I didn't know that the plural of octopus is neither octopi nor octopuses, but rather, octopods or octopodes. It doesn't much matter because this is indeed a story of just one octopus, a baby one.
On Orthodox Christmas Eve, I asked my daughter, Rose, and her young man, David, to take the children home from church after the morning liturgy. Instead of going home, David took them all out to eat so they could go Christmas shopping before the evening vigil. Since this was the final day of the Christmas fast, they went to an Eastern Buffet. One of the items on the buffet was baby octopus, which of course delighted the children--especially the crocodile hunter himself.
Max put a few on his plate. After eating one leg he decided it was less appealing in his mouth than on his plate.
During their shopping trip David overheard the Marko whispering intensely to his brother, "Put it back in your pocket!" Max put "it" back, but David was suspicious, thinking the boys were shoplifting.
"Max, what have you got in your pocket?"
"Max what's in your pocket? Take it out."
Out came the octopus to the amusement of everyone around.
"Max, put it back in your pocket."
However, a few hours later, at Christmas Eve vigil, David recalled that the octopus was probably still in Max's pocket.
Orthodox canons restrict any blood in the altar; neither are dead animals allowed. Despite this dead animal not being bloody, but lightly seasoned and probably linty, it was still a dead animal.
"Max do you still have that octopus in your pocket?"
"You need to get rid of it. Throw it in the men's bathroom trash."
So like a good little altar boy, he got rid of it.
Later on in the evening, as David shared the tale with Josh. Josh said he had seen it in the trashcan and had thought to himself, "Hm. That's either a very fleshy spider--or an octopus."
Although this made me laugh when Margaret retold the story to me this morning, my lingering thought was something my husband often says: "however bizarre some of the Orthodox canonical regulations seem, they are written for a spiritual or practical reason, and probably had a particular historical event guiding their origin."