Dear Cephalopods

24 Jul

Dear Cephalopods,

So I did a report on giant squid in 8th grade.  I wanted to do it on giant octopi, because I like eating octopus, and squid kind of freak me out with their wacky shape and all (and octopi are totally normal, duh), but it turns out giant octopi are like 8 feet big and giant squid are maybe reallyreallyreallybiggerthanthat, which is cooler, so I did my report on them.

If I were less lazy I would go find the report in my parents’ attic, where I am sure it is, because it was accompanied by a story, and my parents saved all of my reports and stories, obviously, and because of course all academic reports need to have a creative component because we have to teach our kids young that research and learning in and of itself is not valuable, also because we have to make all kids feel loved and accomplished, even those who can’t look up a marine animal in the encyclopedia and change a few words around (“paraphrase”).  But they can do a super awesome collage!  And get 10% for that.  And for those of us who hate arts and crafts (see arts and crafts, hate, Appendix Things MM Hates and Gets Stressed Out Over Primary Example Arts and Crafts), well, we can lose 10% or slap together a crappy 10 page 8th grade version of Moby Dick.

Oddly enough, I was just in Rome, where we talked about cephalopods a lot.  More than one would expect.  This was partly because of the psychic octopus that was predicting the World Cup Games.  Which I never read about or watched on YouTube or anything, because I like the mental image I’ve got going in my head (and did I name him Frank or is that actually his name? Who knows?) of the octopus hanging out, making people wait around even though he so knows the answer come on it’s not like being a psychic octopus requires thinking about the answer, he just knows it, and then all languidly reaching out to take food from a bowl with a little Spain flag jauntily sticking out of the top of something that looks an awful lot like wet dog food.

[I was not, however, impressed by the psychic canary or parakeet or whatever that got the final game wrong.  Clearly not psychic at all.  And the psychic frankfurter? Please, people.  Call me a skeptic, but I still have no patience for the psychic frankfurter that sizzled in a specific direction or some such made-up crap and then possibly stopped predicting things because it got eaten.  Sure, blame it on the hungry person. Like a psychic frankfurter couldn’t work in a stomach–if it was really psychic, which it clearly wasn’t.]

Also maybe we talked about cephalopods in Rome because one night I ordered rigatoni polpo al ragu, which would be pasta with tomato sauce and an entire octopus stuffed with cheese sitting on top. I made lots of people try it and poked at the tentacles with my fork a lot to make them dance. It was also delicious.

But this got us started on a few things: a) that one of our group, the lovely S, is in the Cephalopod Appreciation Society, which I also am not going to look up or find a website or link to or anything because I like the mental picture I have.  Namely, of a group of people getting together and sitting in folding chairs, or sometimes cushy grandma-patterned armchairs if meeting at a member’s house, and talking about their appreciation of cephalopods.  Sometimes with guest lecturers or slideshows.  Sometimes telling giant squid battle stories, where they always root for the giant squid against the huge old pirate ship, and talk about how the squid was just defending its home and it only ever attacked pirate ships, obviously, what fabulous moral compasses they have.

b) this conversation led another S (also lovely) to talk about something about childhood (I wasn’t really listening to the first part of the conversation) yada yada and I tuned in here:

“I mean, cuttlefish! It’s in the name! You’re supposed to cuddle them!”

To which I replied (I’m a quick thinker): “Wait, what??”

“I had a toy cuttlefish, and I would cuddle it.  You’re supposed to.”

“Was it soft?”

“No, it was hard plastic…”

“You know it’s spelled tt, right?”


Anyway, the point is, they just discovered a new octopus species.  I mean, that’s not really the point, but it’s another point. Also they think their venom can be used for all sorts of things, including curing cancer and maybe saving the world, I’m pretty sure. This is cool.  It’s another reason to appreciate cephalopods.  Even if you don’t join the society because you really really like eating them.

Ocotopi are basically Superman.

Giant squid are terrifying and you shouldn’t look them up unless you want nightmares and phobias about ever getting on boats in southern waters (especially around Australia, never get on a boat around Australia, do you even understand how big those things are? They used to take down East India Trading Company Ships.  They show up when you google search for Kraken!) (Or they don’t exist.  One or the other.)  Other cephalopods are probably all right.  Such as cuttlefish.




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