I don't know when or why it happened, but at a certain point in my life I saw an octopus and almost shit myself. There is something about the unnatural number of legs covered in suctions cups that just makes me want to crawl out of my skin.
When I try to think back on when this fear may have begun, I remember a reoccurring childhood dream. I am four years old in my bedroom, which I shared with my older sister. From between the few feet of space which snuggly held my twin bed and her convertible couch-into-a-twin-bed, a huge tarantula crawls toward me. It's a five foot tall spider, with eight huge furry legs and a large set of antennas which are aiming straight at me. I vividly remember that giant spider to this day. It was the founder in chief of my fear of spiders and any bug with more than 4 legs.
When I went to "Camp KV For Kids" in Maine (on poor kid scholarship), the mean boys used to pick the legs off of daddy long legs spiders and throw them in my long hair. The legs would keep moving long after the boys plucked them from the bodies because of the spiders nervous systems, so it was especially horrific. This really took my fear of leggy things to a whole new level. To this day if I see a spider in real life or even a photo of one I basically flatline.
I connect my fear of the Octopus to my fear of spiders. My first important memory of an Octopus is from the Disney movie "The Little Mermaid" with Ursula singing "poor unfortunate souls" and then stealing Arial's voice. I don't remember being scared of Ursula at all. Maybe I was young enough that adult rational fear had yet to take over. As an adult I can't even look at pictures of Ursula where her suction cups are showing. Even the cartoon makes me queazy.
A real Octopus is one of the most disgusting creatures I have ever seen. To me, they look like swimming, squishy heads with creepy eyeballs and too many legs that are going to suction onto my head, eat it and kill me. Yes, I do realized that Octopuses don't actually eat or bite humans, but they do in my mind.
This fear effects me more than you would think in day to day life. Basic things like aquarium visits pose a bigger problem than ever. My aquarium phobia started the one time I unknowingly got near a tank with an octopus. That fucker flew out of nowhere and suctioned itself to the glass right in front of my face, almost sending me into a coma. I have to be really cautious now, but really need a huge warning signs that the next tank :could be holding an octopus: (like people with epilepsy get before flashing lights go off.) During our recent trip to Disney Land I almost didn't ride Nemo's submarine voyage. I was bracing for the inevitabel the entire ride, like I was watching one of the Paranormal Activity movies. Thank god there were no animatronic octopuses in that one. It would have been pretty embarrassing to have screamed louder than the bunch of four year olds sitting around us.
Even grocery shopping can be an issue. My old grocery store sold Octopuses in the seafood department. They used to be sitting there like decapitated heads on crushed ice, each in it's own separate clear plastic bag of tentacles and slime. Whenever I went to get fresh fish or shrimp I had to look in the opposite direction and sprint by them. I had heart palpitations nearly peed myself every time. Once in awhile the Octopus carcasses got moved around and I would find myself starring straight at them. The last time this happened I swear I almost blacked out.
It boggles my mind that people eat octopus and squids and think they are delicious. Once I tried fried calamari to see what all the fuss was about. When I got past the fried part and to the chewy squid body I had to spit out.
Somethings fears in life are temporary. Octopuses are forever.
*****In writing this blog, I tried to search for an image of Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Mixed into the google results were some photos of real life octopuses. I can assure you that I screamed like little bitch, had heart palpitations, and almost threw up, peed my pants and passed out.