Several years ago, I successfully listened to an audio book for the first time. It was called "The Soul Of An Octopus" by Sy Montgomery. My eyes were unveiled to the magic of these squishy, magical babies with all of their tentacled-legs. I never knew the intelligence and personality they possessed. I paused every few minutes to tell my husband, "Did you know that octopuses can do THIS?"
The Giant Pacific Octopus lives here in the Puget Sound. The name evokes so much. A KRAKEN. Ever outsmarting man. Menacing and powerful. But stories of these animals' curiosity toward humans makes my heart squee. The idea of an octopus peering up at a human, tentatively reaching out an arm to taste and know the human hand, potentially showing actual affection for us? The tenderness of an octopus. I DIE.
My husband and I recently watched "My Octopus Teacher" on Netflix, which is a documentary about a forlorn filmmaker who slowly becomes friends with an octopus in a kelp forest under the sea. This sweet octopus helps him learn to live again. To know himself. This man straight up lived my dream. "That's sooooo cuuuute," we said over and over again. And when the film had finished, we looked at each other with glassy eyes. "Babe," my husband said. "We literally have two bags of takoyaki in the freezer right now." I nodded my head. He spoke the truth.
Thus, the moral conundrum. Does my appreciation for this intelligent creature trump my appetite for its flesh?
Fresh in my mind, in this moment, I can say, "No, I cannot justify eating this animal anymore." But I may not always be so steadfast and compassionate, and that's just the truth. I suppose that makes me a goshdarn hypocrite regarding this issue.
If I was lucky enough to be a mermaid, I'd hope to have an octopus as my sidekick buddy. We'd glide through the kelp forest, explore every nook, play 'who can find the most pearls,' punch bully sharks in their noses, and snack on fish and clams. But we'd never eat other octopuses. That's the equivalent of a human eating a dog. There's a line one simply does not cross. And that line slides back and forth, depending on who you are.
My octopus sidekick's name could be Romeo. Sebastian, even. And if we ever found out that humans ate octopuses in fried balls of dough with mayonnaise and dried bonito flakes, we'd be horrified. We'd be like, "They're BARBARIC AF."
The more I imagine this scenario, the more I realize that I cannot eat octopus anymore. So there's my final stance. Thank you, imaginary Romeo. Thank you, Craig Foster. Thank you, Sy Montgomery. When octopuses become smarter than humans and take over the world, I know they will not eat me. Me and cephalopods, we cool.