The Contrary Octopus is a minion we use to keep you ensnared and under our control. He has eight tentacles of contradiction which repeatedly coil around you, keeping you in their grip and squeezing your self-esteem and confidence from you.
1. You’ve put on weight
You haven’t of course, in fact you look fantastic and we resent that because now you look better than we do. If we are inclined to take pride in our appearance we hate the fact that you are outshining us. If physical perfection is not something we tend to major in, then we are resentful of the fact that other people will admire you and give you attention and not us. We once basked in this reflected admiration, proud of how attractive you looked, but that was when we seduced you. Now we do not want you looking better than us or drawing attention away from us or even worse still attracting suitors so you might even consider leaving us. Few people are secure about their weight and with our repeated sniping, this tentacle will squeeze some self-esteem from you as you worry about how you look. You are forbidden from attending the gym or going running though, we don’t want you do anything about it.
2. You need to eat more
You don’t. You had a healthy appetite once and these days it takes more effort to swallow your meals because of the anxiety that grips you as a consequence of our behaviour, but once again the issue of weight is something we know causes people concern and therefore it is low-hanging fruit in terms of undermining your confidence. You may resist, fearing gaining weight and this will only provide us with an opportunity to emphasise how you never do anything that we want and you are so argumentative. We want you cooking hearty meals so that we can indulge in them too. We want you running around after us. Naturally we will have wrapped the first tentacle above around you last week and then follow-up with this one, pushing and pulling in order to maximise your confusion. Don’t even try to suggest we said last week that you have gained weight, you are just being awkward again.
3. You need to dress up
You are so exhausted through our manipulation of you that you rarely wear make-up anymore. It is too much effort and usually attracts some scathing comment if you do so. It is far easier to pull on those jogging bottoms and a sweat top, after all, there are so many chores to attend to, because we will not help, that you are best dressed this way for reasons of practicality. We will criticise you for appearing like this and remark how you once took pride in your appearance. This will be said to make you feel guilty for letting us down because you are our extension and you are expected to look immaculate when we want you to. You of course need to second guess when those occasions will be because you will often be caught between the pull of this tentacle and the next one.
4. You dress like a slut
You managed to order something online for that forthcoming night out. Usually any suggestion of you visiting the shops is met with annoyance and criticism by us. We remark about you spending too much time and money shopping. You needed this new outfit and it fits perfectly, elegant and classy, showing off your legs which you still remain proud of. You have spent time doing your hair and make-up and you smile with satisfaction as you look in the full-length mirror at how you still scrub up well. The smile disappears in an instant as we loom up behind you and ask you where do you think you are going dressed like that? We don’t want you going out and enjoying yourself. We do not want you commanding attention and therefore we wrap this tentacle about you and apply the pressure, denigrating your clothing choice, berating you for wearing “too much slap” and bandying words such as whore and slut around until the tears start to flow.
5. Hurry up
This tentacle will always make an appearance when you are doing something that you enjoy. If you are browsing in a shop, you will be castigated for walking too slowly and told to get a move on. If you stop to talk to some friends who you have bumped into one afternoon we will hover nearby coughing and harrumphing in order to unsettle you in front of those people before taking you by the arm and pulling you away, hissing at you that you are showing off. Whenever it involves you, you are wrenching the spotlight away from us and therefore your event needs to be over as quickly as possible. Expect early departures from parties where you are given more attention than us, from concerts when it is your favourite band playing and from family events where your supporters outnumber ours. The octopus’ tentacle will wrap around you and haul you away.
6. Stop rushing me
Naturally when it is something we want to do or where the attention is on us then we can take as long as we like. It does not matter if we need to go and pick somebody up, reach the shops before they close or get back for dinner, it is our time in the spotlight and we are damned if you are going to cut it short. No matter how politely you may remind us that we need to be somewhere else you will always be cut down for trying to undermine us and rushing us. It will provide us with the basis for criticism, even though we have stood in the bar for an hour longer than necessary regaling our coterie with stories of our brilliance.
7. Shut up
Nothing you say has any value. Who are you anyway? You are nothing without me so shut up and listen. Do not dare to speak and point out my many faults and contradictions, you are not allowed to do that. You are not permitted your own voice or opinion, those are denied to you. Mine is the only voice that must be heard, strident and bragging. You are not allowed to defend yourself when I am wrongly accusing you of something. You are not allowed to talk when I am reading, flirting online, watching a television programme or staring into space as I plot my next move. Your silence is expected and when I tell you to shut up, you had better do it.
8. Well, say something
What’s wrong with you? Speak. Anybody would think that you are not allowed to say something. You stand there mute and idiotic. You are making me look stupid by not joining in with the conversation. This is my evening remember and you had better shine and sparkle so everyone realises how great I am by choosing you. Make them laugh, say something of note and don’t embarrass me. Make sure you speak highly of me and keep the praise going, laugh at my jokes, prompt the praise and fulfil your role as my number one cheerleader. Don’t ever stand there in silence when I am ruling the roost. What do you mean I just told you to be quiet? Don’t start with those games again, how many times have I warned you?