“Here we go again. Opus XVXII of why it’s so difficult being you,” says Mr. Octopus, holding up a hand mirror to examine his upturned moustachios, while humming Speigle im Speigle in a squeaky mouse voice, imitating the world’s smallest violin.

“Stop it,” I say.


“Don’t make fun of my musical choices.”

“I was merely–”

“Music nazi.”



“Just say what you want to do and then do it.”

“Easier said than done.”

“True, but first there is the worrrd.”

“Ok. I…want to stay home and write more…and…”


“Make money doing it.”


“Do you think I can? I mean that I’m good enough?”

“You see? That is not the point. Not the point at all.”


“You are missing the point…point…point,” he says, like an echo.

“And what is the point?”

“The point is that it’s not about whether or not you write. It’s about how you live. Stop trying to solve the question of what to do with your life. You stopped dancing and now you want to be a writer, as though that will somehow answer your need to achieve something. Ask yourself, did dancing answer anything? Or is that something still there, gnawing at you? Obviously, it is still there wreaking havoc on your nerves. That achievement thing is just ego.”

“But I have an ego.”

“No kidding. What I meant is, just be of service. Give what you can and then don’t write a movie about it in your head. You are all so bloody infected with hollywood. Just give what you have to give without expectation.”

“Well, we do need a dog park in my neighborhood…”

“See? That’s the spirrrit!”

“Just this morning I really got into it with an animal-control officer who was screaming at me to–”

“Story-telling. Would you please stop it with the storytelling?” It wasn’t a question.

“Oh. I see what you mean.”

There is a long silence. I thank Mr. Octopus. He gently plants a tentacle on my third eye. When he withdraws it, it makes a loud pop. That is our way. No matter how bad it gets, that popping sound always makes us laugh. I turn to walk away.

“And rememberrr,” he says.


“Life is not always safe. It is not meant to be. Oh, you Americans!”

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