The Tough Guy and the Octopus

A while back, I stared at a restaurant menu that featured octopus. My mind immediately went back to the day my sweetie pie and I were scuba diving when we came upon a small brown octopus. The little guy didn’t sail away in a cloud of black ink, instead he puffed himself up and faced us down. His strange eyes flitted back and forth. Perhaps he wondered what these giant, bubble-blowing creatures might be.

Believe it or not, octopuses are quite cute. They kind of look like benevolent aliens.

Later, I decide the wee animal was quite cute. Not like a kitten or a koala bear perhaps, more like a benevolent-looking, cartoon alien. I didn’t know much about octopuses at the time, aside from their inclusion on menus.

“Want to try the octopus?” Ryan asked.

I creased my brow. While the garlic and herbs and olive oil in which the octopus was prepared sounded lovely, I  struggled. Finally, I shook my head. “It doesn’t bother you to eat octopus after meeting that little guy?”

Ryan stared at me. “I don’t have a problem with it.” Still, he didn’t order the octopus.

Let me interject here that Ryan is generally considered a tough guy. In a former life he did security and worked as a body guard for rock-and-roll bands and sporting events—including eight Super Bowls, NBA and NHL All-Star Games and soccer’s World Cup—and, in my favorite job, he stood backstage at countless performances of Phantom of the Opera, in an effort to keep rabid musical theater crowds—You know how dangerous they can be!—from mobbing Michael Crawford. The point is, you wouldn’t think Ry would be the least bit sentimental.

While watching My Octopus Teacher, Ryan and I learned just how brilliant and friendly an octopus can be.

Recently, I convinced him to watch the documentary My Octopus Teacher, which is up for an Oscar this year. The story is about a filmmaker who is going through a mental health crises. He lives in South Africa and swims in a beautiful kelp forest every day. There he meets an octopus.

Over time, he and the creature become friends, which seems astounding for an animal that is primarily water and is essentially a snail without a shell. We learned that the octopus is quite brilliant. When attacked by a shark it can gather shells and rocks in seconds to create a place to hide, for example. Once the octopus trusted the man, she would often cling to him and let him pet her, which made me stare at the two cats in my lap.

It was fascinating and heartbreaking that even though the man was devoted to the little octopus—he swam with her every day for a year—he did not interfere with nature. It was difficult to watch as the animal was attacked by a shark and lost an arm. She hid for two weeks and the man grieved, but when she finally came out of her den, he could see a new arm growing where the lost one had been.

The octopus and the beauty of the kelp forest healed the man and made my sweetie pie cry.

Of course, there would be no happy ending, because the lifespan of this type of octopus was just one year. After mating and reproducing the creatures generally die of starvation. We watched the moment shortly after she’d laid her eggs when she came out of her den and gave herself up to predators, eventually being taken away by a shark.

As the final beautiful shots of the kelp forest and the fascinating creatures within rolled by, I looked over at Ryan. I watched as he swiped at his eyes with the back of his hand.

“Could you eat an octopus now?” I asked.

He didn’t respond, but I’m pretty sure I know the answer.

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Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here:

4 thoughts on “The Tough Guy and the Octopus

    • annemontgomeryauthor2013 says:

      “I’d like to be, under the sea, in an octopus’s garden in the shade…do, do do.” Oh no! Me too! 😉


  1. annemontgomeryauthor2013 says:

    Exactly, TS. I had the great thrill of diving with wild dolphins, which made me consider that humans are nowhere near the smartest creatures on the planet. 😉


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