Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Stuff of Nightmares

Time for a confession about an obsession. I am terrified of giant squid and have been since seeing the Disney film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” when I was seven.

I suffered terrifying nightmares for weeks after seeing Kirk Douglas and James Mason battle the sea monster on the screen of my neighborhood theater. I could not sleep with the lights off because I was certain the horrid creature with its grotesque, beaked mouth was right outside the my bedroom windows, tentacles waving. 

The truth is, I have refused for fifty years to eat squid in any form. I cannot eat the stuff of my nightmares and, with this gesture, am paying homage to the terror suffered by that young boy in Michigan, living 600 miles from the nearest deep-sea creature.

(Photo at top is from the Disney movie, with a squid crushing one of Capt. Nemo's submarines. Scene at right shows James Mason as Nemo as the monster tries to destroy the Nautilus.)

This morning I read where marine scientists in New Zealand are thawing the corpse of the largest squid ever caught. They want to examine its anatomy, remove its stomach and beak and do DNA analysis. This particular monster weighs almost 1,100 pounds and is 26 feet long, although the species is known to reach nearly double that length. Technically, this one is a colossal squid, a breed even larger than the giant squid. Each of its two eyes is eleven inches across, making it the largest animal eye in the world.

The colossal squid’s usual habitat is more than a mile beneath of ocean’s surface, but fishermen netted this one in 2007 off the coast of Antarctica while it was dining on hooked toothfish. One scientist commented that if calamari rings were made from this squid’s suckers, each ring would be the size of a tractor tire.

To which I say, Let the nightmares begin!


Anonymous said...

For many years I swam freely everywhere. Mostly in Lake Ontario/US side...ok, the beaches have been closed for years and Kodak paid off everyone before going down to South America to do biz. But in my late teens I met this guy (WHAT A GUY!) and 4 hours later went home with him, which was 3-4 hrs away as the crow flies.
I spent quite a few years with him, every spring till fall (8 years) During that time I met most of the kids raised on the islands in 1000 Islands NY, St. Lawrence Seaway. Back in the 70's the new Clean Water people would come in and fly these boys to parts unknown for oil spill after oil spill. These boys had boats while the rest of us rode tricycles with training wheels. No lie. They were/are the best with water/boats. BUT they taught me something that even they feared...Sturgeon. These bottom feeders would grow to huge size at the bottom of what seemed to be quiet waters. So the guys who had been hired to dive the NYC harbors were not just flipped out by the amount of floating fetuses (hospitals just dumped at will wherever they could), they feared the Sturgeon's mouth looking for a bite of their feet.
Knowing that the St. Lawrence also had its share of monster size Sturgeon, I got squeamish to swim with such abandon. Moral of the story, no matter where/what or when, there is always something below the surface that you can choose to fear and the fear itself, that is the stuff of nightmares. By the way, that hot boy I loved, he's a Captain of one of those huge ships at sea in foreign countries. I talk to his Mom annually. Young love, hot. That boy and his boat, hot. Lonely seamen's wives, not so hot. So what all is really beneath the surface of our psyche's? That's the real monster. Anyone see the San Diego news this past week? The triathlon man who was taken out by a Great White Shark while swimming? Now all the beaches are closed. Anyone want to rent "Jaws", I think it's on DVD now.

KarenK said...

I know why you never eat squid. Because it makes your arms go like "this."