I totally fuckin' love Giant Squids. And regularly sized squids. And Jellyfish. And Lobsters. Anyway, I had a question that wasn't exactly answered in your fantabulous three piece aquatic masterpiece.
What kind of parents are squids after they hatch? Are they loving, or do they abandon their children? Do they wear capes and fight underwater crime together? What goes on!?!
My Dearest, Unnamed Squid Aficionado,
I fear that the tales of be-caped deep-sea crime-fighting teams have been greatly exaggerated. Mollusca are, in the general, a solitary lot—have you, after all, ever seen a terrible swarm of snails storming over your garden's pumpkins in the way that such overly social butterflies as ants heave and thrum upon a neglected Nestle's chocolate bar? (As an aside, it bears note that butterflies themselves, despite their reputations to the contrary, are actually quite antisocial, almost to the point of sociopathology. Had the colorful Schmetterling opposable manipulators for with which to grasp a butcher's knife, I am quite certain their reputation would be for something a great deal more sinister than fancy-free flitting upon the fleeting springtime breeze).
If snails are the friendless, shut-in homebodies of the soft-bodied animal kingdom, then we squid are the roving loners, Wild Ones and rebeles sans causes, all. The stolid life of stable home, family, and community is not for us. As such, I was more than briefly shocked when, alerted by a startled splash, I turned to embrace my midmorning yorkshire terrier only to discover a very small—no larger than a fat man's thigh, I should say—very bright red cuttlefish. He gripped me in his small, appraising eye, squeezed my full measure. The W-shaped pupils cut through the pools of his yellow irises expanded, contracted, then settled, and he declared in a heavily accented voice, "You. I always imagine you . . . longer. Less fat, da? In the Internet, you write like a long guy."
From outside the tank I heard my lab assistant Rob gasp, then laugh, "Oh, fuckin' sweet ass!" He clapped his hands with delight.
"I read your articles long time, ever since Cleveland Sun-Times times, always saying myself, This is good, that one of us should maybe get himself Up on the Dry, out on his own, make a little money, make his own place he can float and say This My Thing, and no one, they take it away. I always image, to the Giant Squid, no one say," here he took a gruff tone, bunching his mantle into a round face with doubled chins, thickening his Muscovite accent, "Yuri, route all messages through Moldova! Yuri, talk to artificial-intelligence spambot so he get the penis pill spams out better! Yuri, follow up on invoices for them Congo fucks in Barcelona, because they giving me hemorrhoids with their bitching! Yuri, we need more zombie boxes in suburban US places; IPs mapped to foreign ccTLDs are total for crap right now!" he relaxed into his native form, "Even better, no one tap on his tank, no one take flash photography of him, even though there is sign, clear as day, saying Do Not. The Giant Squid, he's a big boss with the pull. But now," the cuttlefish rocked from side-to-side, then bunched his arms and tentacles, as a human does shrug the shoulders, "I'm less impressed than I hoped I would be."
It was my turn to gasp, although Rob laughed again, out of turn, then clapped his hands again, "I had no fucking idea this little guy could talk, too! This is the best fucking Tuesday!"
"WHAT, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT HAS EVER DEFILED A THING THAT WAS ONCE CONSIDERED HOLY, ARE YOU?"
His pupils widened, "Of course! I am rude, and apologies. I," the cuttlefish paused, "Am Mr. Yuri Kalmarrochki. This tank of yours," he spun, taking in the breadth of my fine tank, then fanned his arms and tentacles to indicate the wide vista my windows give me from high atop this Renaissance Center, offering a panoramic view of Detroit's River and sweet, sweet Windsor beyond, "This is very tolerable, what you have got."
"HOW AND FOR WHAT REASON DID YOU DEIGN ENTER MY SANCTA SANCTORUM?"
"Your stupid friend, he put me here. Nice guy, but dumb."
I was aghast, "WHY DID YOU DO THIS THING, ROB."
"Oh, yeah," Rob agreed, "I was down in Hamtramck early this morning for . . . a, uh . . . thing, and afterwords I was walking down the street, and there on the sidewalk was this leaky fishtank with this little guy in it. At first I thought he was a santa hat that someone had tossed in there, but then I looked more, and saw it was a little squid."
"THIS IS NO SQUID," I corrected.
"Da, da," the cuttlefish agreed, "Am cuttlefish. Strong with the cuttlebone. Best of both worlds!" He careened off the glass walls with an audible thunk. "I am cannonball of the sea!"
"But, so, he was looking pretty sluggish, and, you know, 'tis the season."
"IT IS THE SEASON?"
"Da!" the cuttlefish interjected, "Fourteen years I am at the end of the hall in Belle Isle Aquarium between tank of very stupid neon tetras, and tank of very surly tiger fish. Fourteen years, little boys and girls come and stare at me, tap on tank despite sign, take the flash pictures. Fourteen years, you develop a low opinion, da? Only good thing is I'm diagonal from the big ugly turtle that looks like six-day rotten pig. All day, can't hear a thing he says; too loud. But at night! At night he sings these songs!" The cuttlefish chuckled.
"Songs like what?" Rob asked.
"Dirty, dirty, songs. And also funny, and sometimes sad, with many technical details. Like a Chilton manual for ugly-boy-ugly-girl-pretty-shemale love triangle that, even though funny-fantastic, goes tragically bad. Bear-with-coathanger bad. Da?"
Rob nodded sagely, "Right on. I hear you. Sweet ass. So, do you have any, like, CDs or MP3s of this pigturtle?"
"Then, three years ago, Belle Isle close, Russian men in nice leather jackets buy me and the very ugly turtle. The turtle they eat, me they put in tank with electrode things, so I can make their computers superfast. Me and the artificial-intelligence program, Shterni, we are 100-percent best spam operation you imagine. But," he again rocked back and forth in equivocation, "the economy, the Big Three," he made his arm-and-tentacle shrug, "It's no good, not for anyone. Me, I end up in cracked aquarium on the sidewalk, even in negative seven degrees centigrade! Your stupid friend not come, would have been end of the movie for Mr. Kalmarrochki!"
My vision seemed to pulse brightly as my agitation grew, "MR. KALMARROCHKI?" I spun to look for further interlopers, "WHO ON EARTH IS MR. KALMARROCHKI?"
"Me! I am! No more Yuri this Yuri that for the distinguished Mr. Kalmarrochki. You know, for smart Squid, you got many funny ticks. Like asking lots of questions that are redundant. I read your article, every week, and also I am asking myself, Why he is always talk this way, like Mark Twain shit into sousaphone, then played suite of Rimsky-Korsakov?"
"I FEAR I AM POSSESSED OF CONFUSIONS; WHY DO I TALK IN WHAT WAY?"
"And there you go, with using whole dictionary when single word is sufficient; is like you run all the way to Mariana's Trench to make shit, when you could maybe make shit right where you stand, and no one care. This is what I am saying."
"Whoa," Rob said, clasping his hands to his head's ears, "Hearing you guys argue in the same voice is sort of a major headtrip. I gotta go talk to Devo and see if we can, like, get the dictaphone thing to, I dunno, give you guys different voices or something."
"ROB, ROB; PLEASE TO REMOVE MR. . . . MR. CUTTLEFISH FROM MY TANK NOW IMMEDIATELY."
"Can't, Lord A.; we don't have any other salt tanks going. Besides," Rob appraised my vast tank, possessed of only the large drain, my own vacuum shoot to shuttle me into my velocitating environmental suit, and the small feeding airlock via which dogs—and evidently this cuttlefish—might be introduced into my tank at approved feeding times, "I don't know how the Hell I'd get him out now."
"Da," the cuttlefish agreed, "Is problematic arrangement. But, besides, Mr. Kalmarrochki thinks maybe you'll be wanting him to stay around a bit, because when I am reading last week's article to myself, I say to Shterni, I say Doesn't this sound like a funny coincidence? And Shterni, she say Da."
And, readers, I must confess, despite lacking them, upon this little note, I was all ears.
For Now I Remain Cohabitant, and
Your Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson