This Is Getting Out Of Hand And Hand And Hand…

My fascination with octopuses must be an inborn trait. It’s not something I learned because as far as I can remember I’ve considered them amazing creatures and if, with their remarkable intelligence and dexterity, they were to replace us—unlikely, I know, since their copper-based blood makes them tire easily, and true oceanic blue bloods—I for one would welcome our new octopus masters.

The first time I ever went to a library I wanted to find a book about octopuses and checked out Octopus Lives In The Ocean by William and Peggy Stephens. Then I kept renewing it so many times I wonder why the library didn’t just let me keep it. And it was a terrifically honest and detailed book that led to me explaining octopus sex in great detail to my grandfather. He was impressed but unsure what to say so I added, “That reminds me of a joke. What did John Lennon say to the octopus? I wanna hold your hand and your other hand and your other hand…” He chuckled and said he preferred The Rolling Stones, so we listened to Let It Bleed together, but that’s another story.

There wasn’t a lot of cephalopod swag in those days because you can’t always get what you want, but octopuses finally seem to have gotten a hold in the public consciousness. Almost every aquarium I’ve been to has an octopus t-shirt so I’ve built up quite a collection. And one of these was a gift from my mother. Yes, I have enough octopus t-shirts to wear one every day of the week without repeating.

shirt5 shirt4 shirt3 shirt2 shirt1shirt6

shirt7

Thanks to the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Dauphin Island Estuarium, the Florida Aquarium, the Tennessee Aquarium, and my mother. I would thank the Oklahoma Aquarium but their octopus t-shirt was the same as one of the ones from the Aquarium of the Pacific and they also didn’t have a real octopus on display, but I do want to thank The Happy Octopus, also in Dauphin Island, even though they don’t have any real octopuses either. And now–true facts about the octopus.

17 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    According to that video, the octopus has “distributed intelligence.” Thanks for distributing intelligence here, Chris.

    Here’s some Octopus News from Boston:

    https://www.boston.com/culture/animals/2016/04/11/giant-pacific-octopus-species-coming-to-the-new-england-aquarium

    The new “Tentacles Take Hold” exhibit at the New England Aquarium is a great reason to visit Boston, don’t you think?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’d call that eight more reasons to visit Boston–in addition to a dozen or more I can already think of.

      Reply
  2. Margot

    I LOVE everything about this post, Christopher! And I don’t even think that you put it into the wrong pile (i.e. submit for publication/run past Margot). Your grandfather preferred the Rolling Stones to the Beatles? That man had excellent taste, in my humble opinion. I preferred the Monkees to the Beatles, since I was pretty much in love with Mickey Dolenz (and, yes, I’m still holding a grudge against the music teacher who came into our classroom when I was in the 3rd grade and asked us if we wanted to play an instrument. I said I wanted to play the drums, and he said I couldn’t because drums were only for boys).

    I can’t wait for my son to get home so that I can show him the octopus video. He’ll love it even more than I did. (Tis a pity y’all didn’t meet up when the rest of the Capers clan was in Nashville). Also, the video is from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium?! I was in the second or third group to visit it after it opened. Very cool!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      On the bright side you have somethings in common with Mickey Dolenz: neither of you can play the drums. (I kid because I love, Mickey!)
      And you’re very lucky to have been to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. I’d love to add it to my collection, although octopuses tend to be nocturnal so they’ve almost always been asleep when I’ve seen them.

      Reply
  3. halfa1000miles

    Not “octopi” huh? It’s funny because I work for a major childrenswear company. Our clothes regularly have crabs, whales, lobsters — all kinds of sea creatures, but never an octopus. Why do you think that is? (I am not in the Design division).

    Reply
    1. Margot

      Ha! We cross talked by accident this time, Linda.

      Also, I had the exact same thought about “octopi”. (By the way, I believe that the quotation marks belong outside of the period, but CW always puts them inside. My theory is that it’s a UK thing he picked up and refuses to put down.) (Where the fuck does the period go if your entire sentence belongs in parentheses?!)?! (!?!%&@#!)

      Re: puses instead of pi, I called him on a similar grammatical issue once and he said that he was too much of Southerner. I’d said that I pegged him for an “an historical” guy instead of an “a historical” guy. Either he’s full of shit or the US of A uses different grammar based on region.

      Reply
    2. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      From what I understand “octopi” would only be correct for a Latin derivative but it’s a Greek word. Or the other way around. But I think either one works.
      Why no octopi in the kids clothing? It seems like they’d be perfect being so grabby-grabby.

      Reply
  4. Chuck Baudelaire

    I too love the little ‘pus-fellers. Have you seen the commercial for (I think) Rocket Mortgage with the woman who falls in love with the house that has a huge bas-relief octopus over the fireplace? I would totally buy that house.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I haven’t seen that–just from your description I’d buy that house. Or that fireplace. Getting one installed would be cheaper than moving.

      Reply
  5. Gina W

    OK, my first thought was, “I thought it was octopi?” and then I see that others made the same comment. Clearly your readers are an intelligent bunch. Probably an overly picky bunch, but still…

    We agree on many things Christopher but I will never share your love for Octopuses/Octopi. It’s OK though, we can still be friends! Like the video says, to me they’re floppy spiders of the sea. And I just remembered that you love spiders too. I’m noticing a theme here.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s an eight legged theme too. But I’m okay with not everyone sharing my love of various crawly things as long as we can all live together. Heck, I’m fine with people who keep ferrets as pets even though I’m convinced those things are evil.

      Reply
  6. Sarah

    This absolutely cracked me up! I love that image of you trying to explain octopus sex to your grandfather. Oh man. I don’t even know what to say about that. (I’m also strangely curious to know how it works, actually. I’d never given it a second thought and now I’m pretty sure I’m going to Google it after I leave this comment.) Anyway, well, if you’re going to have an obsession with something–why not octopuses/octopi/whatever it is? So, do people inundate you with octopus related gifts? It just reminded me of that post from Half a 1000 Miles about how she “collects no things.” I love it. 🙂 My husband has an obsession with sharks, which is strange because he was actually attacked by a great white. The friend he was diving with actually lost a leg! But, as you would say, that’s another story.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Fortunately I don’t get inundated with octopus tchotchkes, and don’t collect them, aside from the t-shirts.
      By the way the video at the end explains and even has footage of octopus sex.
      Your husband’s experience of being attacked by a great white reminds me of the advice to divers about how if you think a shark is about to attack you should punch it in the nose. And if that doesn’t work you can poke it in the eye with the bloody stump where your hand was.

      Reply
  7. Spoken Like A True Nut

    “Octopus I Love You” by Dalmatian Rex and the Eigentones.

    That is all.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That is all that is needed. Pure awesomeness.

      Reply
  8. Michelle

    I love the Happy Octopus t shirt! I don’t mind octopuses but I don’t love them either. They’re cute, at least the ones that don’t glow with blue rings and kill you to death. I know a few people who are completely bonkers about anything with tentacles but I only learned of Cthulhu a few years ago… via memes, I think?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yeah, there are a ton of Cthulu memes, although I also remember as far back as the early ’90’s when every election day a friend of mine would wear a t-shirt that said, “Cthulu For President. Why vote for the lesser of two evils?”
      I guess t-shirts were pre-internet memes.

      Reply

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