art by andrew salerno
Many mythical creatures have thrived in folklore through years past. The Loch Ness monster, bigfoot, Beyonce. Even Puff the Magic Dragon has his own song. But one creature of the deep has been long overlooked, our dear Champ the Lake Monster.
There is, however, one marked difference between Champ and these others: Champ is 100% real. Sure, no one has “actually” seen him or has “recorded evidence,” but everyone in Burlington knows that he is a reclusive, mysterious reality.
Allow me to elaborate: we know Champ is real because of the clues he leaves us. The shallow depth of Champlain in August? Champ didn’t want to clean. The mountainous ranges lining the sky? Champ needs a hiding spot, after all. The smell of sewage throughout the city of Burlington? I think we all know the answer to that one, even if we don’t want to.
So then why does he never emerge? That, my friends, and not whether or not he exists, is the real mystery. The reason is simple: he doesn’t like people. It’s not like one could blame him, people admittedly suck. We’ve spent years and dollars dumping PBR into his home, peeing in it, and just generally littering, that I wouldn’t exactly want to show my face either. If you come to a party at my house and pee in my air ducts, you probably wouldn’t be invited back.
What does Champ look like? Well, to be honest, you’ve probably already seen him. He’s the odd looking log floating next to North Beach, the piece of trash you accidentally sat on while you were trying to stake out a spot for your low-rent barbecue, the tree turning red in early September.
Champ is all around us; he’s not a physical being as much as he is an emotional, spiritual one. He’s the one that wakes you in the morning with a gentle breeze through your window, puts you to sleep with a warm blanket at night. He’s a state of being: the rush of adrenaline before an exam, the tranquil calm when it’s finished.
So next time someone tells you Champ doesn’t exist, just point them to the horizon and tell them, “there. Right there, at the bottom of your heart, the part you thought was gone forever when you heard David Bowie and Prince died. The part you’d never see again, hidden away in the deep, waiting for the opportune moment to pop out and scream ‘Surprise! You thought you were done with me!’ Champ is there.”
Is that a threatening thought? Maybe. We’ve mistreated the poor bugger for so long, who’s to say that he won’t have a taste for human blood and retribution when he finally surfaces? A scary concept, sure. And of course, now that you’re in danger, you believe me. Just know, Burlington: Champ is real. The truth can’t be hidden forever.