Friday, January 19, 2007

My One Complaint Against Santa Barbara

In more than fourteen ways, Santa Barbara represents a California ideal — the picture-perfect spot on the coast with all the social and professional opportunities of a larger city but with few of the problems. A mere walk to the post office could easily lead one to believe that he or she had stumbled onto the set of the kind of primetime network TV soap opera that sends the well-dressed, well-coifed and well-bred traipsing about the background as what ever drama presented in the foreground is formed and then solved within the confines of the one-hour format. However, Santa Barbara’s deadly secret has raised its head one too many times during my time here. And my status as an earnest and hard-working journalist means that I can no longer type away about stories of water board meetings and special interest student group fund allocation ceremony pre-shows.

I’m talking about Santa Barbara’s rampant octopus problem.

No less that five times since I moved to Santa Barbara a few months ago has my life been threatened by the sucker-armed menace that these monsters present to the average Santa Barbara resident and their store-bought clothes. I can hear my readers’ admonishments already: “If you’re so frightened of these creatures’ collective ability to remove your head from your torso with one quick snap of the tentacle, then should you not just stay away from the beach? Also, why do you have all those bruises on your arm? Are they from octopus attacks?” To this, I boldly answer that the bruises are from an unrelated drug problem that has no bearing on the matters of octopi. Furthermore, I’ll have both you and your loudmouth wife know that the most recent of these ambushed happened while I has hiking in the Santa Barbara foothills, miles from the cold and salty waters of the Pacific where these beasts no doubt plot our demise every waking second.

I have read literature from the SBSOOP (The Santa Barbara Society Opposing Octopus Predators) that has explained how best to cope with octopus attack, octopus murdering-of-you and, worst of all, octopus personal area violation. I must say that the recommended evasive measures — placing the attacking animal in a choke hold — is not especially helpful. Have you ever looked at an octopus? Can you, sitting at your computer right now, figure out where to place your arms around in octopus to best choke it? Do you think you could do so while under duress, and with tentacles everywhere — everywhere! — with their suckery grip? The answer you would be providing had your mouth not been full of cake would surely be a resounding “no.”

I love my town and the various amenities it provides the socially conscientious adult. Where else can you find the ostrich petting zoo, the famed Trampoline District or world’s largest bottle of Mountain Dew? Indeed, Santa Barbara has its virtues and it’s no wonder that high-profile celebs like author Kernise Jackson-Gallindo, one-time tobacco enthusiast Javier “Doody” de Alba or exotic dancing troupe The Giddy Girls would chose to reside here. But until I know that I can leave my home without the threat of another octopus attack, I will continue to protest, to write, to inform and to wear my shirts as pants, as I believe doing so may repel octopi, or at least those with a sense of fashion about them.

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