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Octopus vulgaris

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    When I was younger, I had several of what I would call “Octopus Friends.” An Octopus Friend is a type of friend that is always successful at pulling you into their drama. You could be sitting down watching television in your underwear, minding your own business, and with one text message Octopus Friend sucks you in. You can almost feel his or her tentacles latching onto your easy breezy, lemon squeezy existence and pulling you into a world full of misinterpreted pauses and OMGs. Much like a real octopus, Octopus Friend will eventually strangle you to death.

    Take for instance a friend I had sophomore year of high school named, Grizabella. We weren’t friends for very long, but the short time that we associated with each other was fraught with misunderstandings, manipulations, rage, an abundance of swear words, and unwarranted hatred. 

    Around the time that we became friends, Grizabella’s relationship with a guy we’ll call Rumtum Tigger was in the skids. They were fighting constantly, she thought he was cheating (he wasn’t), he thought she was crazy and jealous (she was), and she hated all of his friends (they were quite fun, but much wittier than she was which was the cause of the contention). I would say that Grizabella and I officially became friends the day she and Runtum Tigger broke up. They broke up and all Hell broke loose.

    Everyday I would meet Grizabella by our lockers in the morning and our conversations went something like this:

    Grizabella: You’ll never guess what that (beep) Rumtum Tigger said to me yesterday on the bus.

    Me: What did he say?

    Grizabella: Nothing.

    Me: But I thought-

    Grizabella: He just looked at me sideways out of his eyes and said nothing. Can you believe that? We dated for six months and now all he does is look at me.

    Me: (pause) I’m confused.

    After lunch, our conversations went something like this:

    Grizabella: Did you see him staring at us the entire time? Seriously, get a life. He stares at me all the time now. Probably regretting everything he ever did to me. I know he wants me now that he can’t have me.

    Me: Was Rumtum Tigger at lunch today?

    Grizabella: He was sitting at the third table from the back door close to the window behind that kid with the shaggy black hair.

    Me: Oh. (hoping to change the subject) The fries at lunch tasted a little funny today.

    Grizabella: Ugh, one of his friends was eating fries today. His friends are such (beep). That should have been a sign right from the very beginning with Rumtum Tigger; the fact that his friends were such (beep). Have you ever talked to one of them?

    Me: I have gym with one of them.

    Grizabella: Which one? Frisky Whiskers?

    Me: I think that’s his name.

   Grizabella: Well, he’s a total (beep), right?

   Me: I’ve never talked to him, I-

   Grizabella: But he’s a total (beep), right?

   Me: Did you always have a tentacle sticking out of your hip like that?

   As our friendship progressed, the drama escalated. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I started doing an extracurricular activity with one of Rumtum Tigger’s friends (it’s not what you’re thinking. We were both in the school play). As it turned out, Frisky Whiskers was amiable, polite, and quick-witted. We got along really well and would say “hi” to each other in the hallway during school. However, because I’m a complete coward, I didn’t tell Grizabella that Frisky Whiskers and I had become friends. She did, unfortunately, find out.

    Frisky Whiskers: (walking through the hallway) Hi Gyasi!

    Me: Hey Frisk- oh crap.

    Grizabella: What the heck was that? Are you friends with him now? I thought you hated him? You definitely told me you hated him.

    Me: Where in the heck are these tentacles coming from? Huh, what? No, I never said that.

    Grizabella: I bet he talks about me all the time.

   Me: He never talks about you with me.

    Grizabella: Of course he wouldn’t, he knows you’re my friend, but I bet when you’re not around he talks about me all the time.

    Me: Seriously, where are these tentacles coming from?

    Grizabella: He talks about me right?

    Me: (struggling to free myself from the tentacles’ grasp) Yeah, sure whatever.

    And that was how I got sucked in.

     Not long after that Frisky Wiskers and the rest of Rumtum Tigger’s friends stopped speaking to me and avoiding me after school. It took weeks for Frisky Whisker’s to tell me that Grizabella had let it “slip” on myspace (remember when we used that site?) that the two of us were making fun of him behind his back.

    Me: (stumbling over tentacles that are continually wrapping themselves around my legs and arms) Did you tell Frisky Whiskers that I was making fun of him?

   Grizabella: Well, yeah, that was really mean of you to do that.

   Me: Do what?

    Grizabella: Be two-faced like that and tell me what he said about me after he told you not to.

    Me: (to tentacles) Back demon! Back! (to Grizabella) What are you talking about? You’re the one that hates him. I’m friends with him- back demon! I’m the one he talks to.

    Grizabella: Look, if you’re going to insist on being two-faced, I don’t know if I can be friends with you anymore.

   Me: What?

   Grizabella: I lost a part of myself when I was dating Rumtum Tigger and I think I need to put my life back together before I start hanging out with people who feed off of drama.

   Me: We’re fifteen! What life?! 

    Grizabella: See ya.

    Me: (suffocating) Can’t-breathe-tentacles-(gasp)- too -strong.

     Before you start thinking that I’m a mean, self-involved individual (I am, but I like to give the impression that I care) I must tell you that Octopus Friends are not bad people; they just don’t know how to leave well enough alone. They don’t know how to call someone else when their best friend doesn’t feel like going out that night. They don’t know how to go about their day when Angela sends them an iffy text message. They don’t know how to get over a break-up in a way that doesn’t result in an arrest and possible assault charge. No one ever taught them how. It’s not their fault.
    The reason I bring this up is because I’ve noticed that for the last four years my life has been relatively drama free. I can honestly say I no longer have any Octopus Friends. There was one little hiccup about two years ago, but other than that I’ve been living a nice, cookie cutter life (my cookie cutter is shaped like a Jane Austen novel) filled with peace and harmony. Of course now that I’ve written this I will most likely make an Octopus Friend tomorrow and be sucked into a chasm of 12 page text messages forcing me to analyze banal conversation focused entirely on he said, she said bull fakaka.

    Also, some of this may have been exaggerated for comedic purposes.

   I always aim for the laugh, people.

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