Paul the Octopus Deserves a Hand

Two-legged celebrities could learn something from the clairvoyant calamari-fodder's graceful exit

You've got to hand it to Paul the Octopus: the clairvoyant calamari-in-waiting, unlike many flashes in the frying pan, is quitting while he's ahead.

The German sea-loving seer, who made international headlines by correctly predicting eight World Cup results through Sunday's final match, reportedly is retiring as an oracle – returning to a stress-free (and presumably death threat-free) life as an aquarium attraction.

Paul has emerged as a hero of sorts for our times, and not just for his psychic ability: today's celebrities and wannabes could learn a thing or eight from his graceful exit from the world stage.

Even with eight legs (or is it arms?), Paul apparently couldn't bear to run the gauntlet of degradation facing those desperate to reach or cling onto fame.

He easily could have snared a couple TV show guest appearances (perhaps showing up as Squidward's madcap German cousin on "SpongeBob SquarePants" or as a fish out of water on "Squidbillies").

Reality TV certainly would have beckoned – "Paul and Kate and Two Times Eight." A contestant with eight legs (uh, arms?) would add new steps to "Dancing With the Stars" (Esther Williams aquatic tribute, anyone?).

Offers for infomercials (Paul can wield eight ShamWows at once!) and game shows ("Are You Smarter Than a Magic 8 Ball?") surely would have poured in.

But by quietly fading into the ink, Paul will retain his dignity (no gossip items about him groping starlets, thank you very much) and maintain his place in the popular imagination as an unlikely star of an event that briefly brought much of the world together.

Not that his talents won't be missed – Paul could have saved us from last week's LeBron James infomercial by changing sports, just once.

Paul realizes what a lot of folks can't seem to wrap their tentacles around: when you're a one-trick pony (or one-trick mollusk), it's best to do your act and get off the stage. You don't have to be a psychic to know the end of the story for those who go to foolish lengths to extend their 15 minutes of fame.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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