The Other I

March 25, 2010

Octopus hook

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 3:19 pm

As children we used to play a game called “how many things can you do with…?”  Fill in anything at all in the blank space – hangers, egg boxes, an old boot, keys that don’t fit any known lock.

One  item we never actually put in the blank space was an octopus hook.  In fact, my limited experience on a farm in Ohio did not include an exposure to an octopus hook.  So I was well into my adulthood before it ever occurred to me to wonder about even a single thing that might be done with an octopus hook.

But several years ago Peter and I were driving in a rented car through the mountains of  Puerto Rico.  It was one of those roads in which I close my eyes and think about eternity a thousand feet below which is the only method I have found to keep from completely distracting the driver with my gasps of fear.

Then my worst nightmare materialized.  As we were rounding a hair pin bend, we got a flat tire.

Peter and I tend to take turns in being competent, and in this case I am grateful that he was able to open the trunk and begin to pull out the spare tire and car jack while I hugged the wall trembling with vertigo.  At that point, a couple of young kids – about 14 – came round the corner on their bikes.  Seeing us, they stopped, and more or less took charge, changing the tire, putting the flat into the trunk, and closing the trunk.  We thanked them profusely and waved them off as they raced on down the mountain.

We got in the car, and Peter put out his hand for the keys.

“I haven’t got them,” I said.

“Neither do I,” he said.

Long silence.  “They’re locked in the trunk,” I said.

We are still sitting on the edge of the mountain.  “Okay,” I proposed.  “You stay here with the car, and I’ll hike down the mountain to that gas station.  I think I know the Spanish word for key.”  Peter flatly vetoed this idea but as he was not proposing anything better, we were gearing up for a stand-off.

And then three fishermen came around the corner.  They stopped their car and got out.  With a little help with my fractured Spanish, we were able to communicate our difficulty.  Well, it was pretty obvious.  Our hope was that they would be willing to drive to the gas station and send help.

They would have none of it.  They were going to solve the problem for us themselves.

Out came the back seat of the car, to reveal a hole about 3 inches in diameter into the trunk.  We could see the keys lying there, smugly inaccessible.  The fishermen were undeterred.

One went back to his car and retrieved his octopus hook.  He used it to pull the keys out to cheers.  If it had not been on the edge of eternity, I would have toasted him with the best drink on offer.

So what can you do with an octopus hook beside hook an octopus?

I’ve got at least one idea.


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