The Octopus

Although I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I couldn’t work there.  It makes my blood boil to watch empty-headed tourists take one flash photo after another straight into the aquarium glass, scaring the fish.  Not only are the fish learning to avoid the glass, the tourists are getting nothing but photos of flashes reflected in the glass.  Ugh.

We took the family to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for Labor Day weekend.  Although we’ve taken Maddie there before, we knew she’d get much more out of it on this trip.

Before we left, we explained to her how we’d take her to see fish, turtles and otters.  Before long, the anticipation began to take hold of her.  She’d ask us if she’d see, “Fish?”  “Yep,” I answer.

  “Turtles?”  “Yes, Maddie.”

  “Otters?”  “Yes, Maddie.  It’s going to be fun!”

  “Birds?”  We roll our eyes at each other.  The aquarium does have birds, though.  “Yes, Maddie.  Birds, too.” 

  “Birds!!”  This will apparently be the highlight of the whole trip.

  Yep, whatever, Maddie.  Like I have to drive you over an hour away to see birds.

  Anyway, we get there, and we take Maddie straight to the Outer Bay exhibit, where they have big sea turtles.  She likes them.  Then, we take her straight to see the sea otters.  She likes that, too.  This trip is going pretty good!

  Next, I take her to see the octopus exhibit.  The big octopi are always hiding, and never moving.  It’s actually a lot more rewarding to watch the cuttlefish.  At least they do something.  But this time, the Giant Octopus is resting in plain view, and it’s white, in stark contrast with the surroundings.  What an opportunity!  I lift Maddie up, and she identifies it immediately.  I look for my wife for a split second, and when I look back, the octopus turned a deep red.  Wow!  I wonder what that means.

  Then the octopus lunges for Maddie!  It grabs ahold of the glass right at Maddie’s face.  Maddie gets a little nervous, so I back away from the glass.

  Then she starts wailing and reaching for the octopus!

  I bring her back to its tank, and she can’t get enough.  Every time I said, “Ok, that’s enough.  Bye bye octopus,” she’d start tearing up and asking for “more octopus!”  I had to hold her there for the better part of half an hour, even though the octopus didn’t do much else.

  We never made it to the bird exhibit, and Maddie never noticed.