I had a dream where I was the host of a weekly podcast show where I gave advice to listeners who wrote in about things seen and unseen. Because the sponsorship came from an art grant, I included critiques on the images people sent in. In the dream it was fun, which means I may do it for real.

The dream went something like this…

What is That Thing? – Episode #1012

Hello, it’s Todd Vinson with this week’s episode of, What is That Thing? Betty, a widower, age 47, wrote in from Southern Bent. Ever since first frost, Betty says she’s had a strange creature visiting her front porch. She wants to know what it is, if it’s dangerous to let it in, and if she can feed it leftovers.

Betty sent in three photographs of the thing, and I have them here in front of me. This is bad. It looks like two of the photographs were taken through her peep hole, so let’s trash both of them. Too gimmicky. The third photograph appears to be a quick snapshot through her decorative beveled glass side panel.

Let’s analyze this one, since that’s all we’ve got. Betty, your need of a tutorial in the basics of photography aside, what I see in the remaining image, in the blurry, poorly-composed, approximately one-and-two-thirds-stops-too-dark image, is what I believe to be a Great Northern Mating Octupan. It is that time of the season.

The giveaway is the bright orange and purple plumage above the Octupan’s muscular wide-winged shoulders. If I see what I think I see in the embarrassingly bad photograph, this Octupan is obviously a male. Assuming a standard door frame for reference, he’s at least seven feet tall. He’s probably young, maybe only 800 years old or so, but no more than 1000.

You were right to not answer the door, but you’re not in any immediate danger, as long as you remain indoors and no one visits or walks or drives by and no planes fly overhead. These things startle easily, and when startled, they become thrice strong, as we say in the business.

Octupans don’t fully comprehend the concept of rotation, so while the youngster may leave deep claw marks on your door, most likely, he will keep pulling on the door knob until boredom sets in, and the parents call him home. Speaking of the call, you may want to carry ear plugs. When he’s not at your door, he can be found hunched on your garage, perched like a gargoyle.

Here’s an interesting note about the Great Northern Mating Octupan. Look closely at the claw-hand that’s out there tugging on your door knob. See the expansive webbing between all six of the Octupan’s fingers? Even his middle two fingers are connected by a bat-like webbing.

It’s mostly a blur in your lousy photo, but if I squint really hard I can just make out the webbing. If the webbing were missing between the two middle fingers, what you would have on your porch would not be a Great Northern Mating Octupan at all, but a Great Northern Devourer Octupan. In that case, it would already be too late for you at this point. The Devourer species knows how to rotate door knobs.

About your leftovers, it’s best not to mess with their natural diet. the Great Northern Mating Octupan lives solely on the birds and the bees found in your yard. Speaking of sex, Betty, as the name suggests, the Octupan typically offers a mate eight aggressive reproduction opportunities per nightly visit.

I’ll give you a moment of silent contemplation…

So, if you feel so inclined the next time you see that beautiful mandible through your peep hole, or hear a foreclaw on the other side of the door, turn the knob for him. I’d recommend asking nicely to become his incubating receptacle.

Studies show that a low soft tone works best. In case your poor image is has misled me, be sure to check that webbing between the Octupan’s two middle fingers first. Otherwise, that incubating receptacle idea could get ugly.

In summary, Betty, I suggest that you stay indoors for another three or four months, and please take a photography class as soon as you are able to leave the house without fear. Most of all, enjoy your seasonal visitation of the Great Northern Mating Octupan. You’re one of the lucky ones.

If you decide to open that door, write in and tell us about your mating experience. Try to include better images, if you make it through, that is. Studies suggest people your age seldom do.

Thanks for writing in. Until next time, keep asking, What is that thing?