I’ve interviewed people whose names I didn’t know, and I’ve interviewed people whose names I knew and didn’t print.
But this is the first time I’ve interviewed something that doesn’t have a name.
Heck, we’re not even sure about the gender.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Today we are talking with To Be Determined, one of Akron’s newest residents. He/she is a giant Pacific octopus that has relocated from the cool waters of the world’s biggest ocean to 500 Edgewood Ave., home of the Akron Zoo.
Who says Akron is suffering from brain drain? The giant Pacific octopus is one of the most intelligent — if not the most intelligent — of all the invertebrates.
Unfortunately, these creatures have a life expectancy of only 3 to 5 years, and nobody knows when this one’s meter started running.
So, after briefly mourning the rapid passing of Cora, whom I never met but always admired — Eight arms! Talk about a multitasker! — I thought I’d better hustle over and meet her replacement before it’s too late.
I figured we’d have at least one thing in common: the ability to squirt ink at our enemies.
Beacon Journal: Man, it’s dark in here!
To Be Determined: I don’t hang out on the beach, dude. I live way below the surface, down on the ocean floor. In little caves. It’s dark there.
BJ: Welcome to town. How do you like it?
TBD: It’s a little unnerving. People keep blasting me with camera flashes and little kids keep pounding on my glass. But I’ll adjust. I’m very adaptable.
BJ: I believe I may have interviewed a hermaphrodite early in my career, but I’m fairly certain I have never interviewed anyone whose gender is unknown and undeclared. Care to enlighten us?
TBD: Why? Are you feeling romantically inclined?
BJ: Well, to be honest, my tastes in exotic aquatic creatures run more toward Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. But I would think your gender would be relatively important.
TBD: Not to me. I’m in no hurry to hook up. Reproduction is one of our leading causes of death. Seriously. Males live only a few months after doing it, and females die soon after the eggs are hatched because they’re so busy tending to the eggs that they starve to death.
BJ: So ... I guess you have no plans to become an Octomom, eh?
TBD: Just couldn’t resist, could you? Do you know how many times I’ve heard that line?
BJ: Sorry. Didn’t mean to bore you. But speaking of boring ... when I first got here today, I wasn’t sure you were even alive. You’re barely moving right now. Cora used to bop around all the time. One of the zoo officials actually called her “charismatic.” I hate to make snap judgments, but I’d categorize you as “lethargic.”
TBD: [Yawn.] Sorry. Still getting accustomed to my new surroundings. If you’d get your butt out of bed earlier and visit me in the morning, you might see more movement. Not a lot more, though. Out in the ocean, when we’re not foraging for food, we just don’t do much. Most of us are Dagwood Bumstead.
BJ: You guys average 25 pounds, according to your new owners. Cora weighed 20. But you only weigh 8. Either you’re extremely young or you’re the Mick Jagger of octopi.
TBD: Ease up on the stereotypes, bucko. I’m a lot stronger than I look. I’m 90 percent muscle. Did you know I also have three hearts and blue blood?
BJ: I read that. My scouting report also says you have great eyesight but lousy hearing.
TBD: There’s not a lot to talk about down there on the ocean floor.
BJ: Wouldn’t you want to hear an eel coming? That way you wouldn’t have to detach one of your arms.
TBD: You’ve done your homework, haven’t you? Yes, we can detach our arms like a lizard detaches its tail. The arm keeps crawling around and distracts the predator. Sounds a little drastic, I suppose, but when you’re fighting for your life ... .
BJ: Did they tell you about the contest they’re going to run here?
TBD: Nobody tells me anything. If they told me they were going to pluck me out of the waters off of Vancouver and put me in a tank in Ohio, don’t you think I would have dropped an arm or two?
BJ: Well, I’m giving you a heads up. They say they’re going to hold some kind of naming contest for you, maybe similar to what they did with Cora. They put different names in three different containers, filled them with shrimp and had her choose the name based on which container she unscrewed first. So limber up those suction cups.
TBD: You mean all those highly paid zoo people can’t come up with a name by themselves?
BJ: Hey, with Cora’s contest, they got 2,200 responses from all over North America. You think they’re going to pass up another chance to drum up that kind of pub? They have to draw a lot of customers to justify that $12.8 million expansion they just unveiled.
TBD: Yeah, I noticed a huge influx of Homo sapiens on Saturday. Kind of scary.
BJ: Are you jealous of all the attention being lavished on the grizzly bears, whose debut was billed as the biggest deal in the zoo’s 60-year history? By the way, those guys already have names: Cheyenne and Jackson.
TBD: Pretty mundane. I can do better.
BJ: We’ll see. Not sure you’ll have a choice. Now go back to sleep. I’ve got work to do.
TBD: You call that work? You humans are a hoot.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.