**A Word of Friendly Warning**
I wrote this little piece initially way back when I was in the confines of a not-that-great Midwestern Lutheran College in Hypothermia Falls, Minnesota.  Now, I have reedited it a bit, so if you’re one of those ancient folks who remember reading it in the school paper back then, it will be slightly different, but not much.  I did take out the blindingly graphic and blatantly gratuitous sex scene that served no narrative purpose whatsoever.  I was surprised at the time that the editors were okay with keeping it in, but hey, at least it wasn’t something seriously offensive like skipping morning chapel. 

If you’ve never read this before, all I can say is please try to understand where I was coming from at the time.  I didn’t have a girlfriend, never drank, and there was nothing else to do in the dormitories for all the eons I was there.  The winters were blisteringly cold, the food was even colder, and the permeating atmosphere was akin to the cheerfulness of a homey stalag.  Well, enough hedging, here you go!

When I am not actively pursuing my other interests in life, such as collecting commemorative spoons from federal prisons or frantically imploring for world peace through total nuclear disarmament so my army can walk across every border unimpeded to dominate the planet, my free time tends to build up.  Since I hate wasting time with appreciated, beneficial, and constructive projects, I try to look for other ways to mark my time between the cradle and the grave.  Also having been called a procrastinator in the past, I thought that I would remedy the situation right now.  Well, perhaps in a little while.  Later on today.  Definitely by the weekend.  For sure.  Maybe.

In any event, since I have an extremely hectic and lackadaisical agenda, my mind usually wanders.  I usually try to deny my schedule exists or ignore it all together.  During these valiant struggles against reality, other thoughts fight for control of the inner reaches of my mind.  And like any person with idle thoughts, I come back to the same thought that has occupied daydreamers for years: “Why are birds so prevalent in clichés?

Yep, that’s right! You are not alone in your thinking. I share your wonderment and confusion about this topic as well!

Before we go any further, the definition of what a cliché is should be established.  In 1769, Mitch Cliché, a resident of Montréal, Quebec, (as opposed to Montréal, United Arab Emirates) decided that he was tired of using his own original thoughts to describe common situations in life.  Frankly the exercise was taxing, and Mitch was looking for an expression shortcut as it were. 

Then an epiphany!  Mitch impulsively decided to take whatever phrases his mentally disturbed half-nephew Bertram would blurt out during the day and apply them randomly in whatever circumstances arose.  And then Mitch repeated them.  And repeated them.  And repeated them.  In fact, because he repeated them so much, Cliché became more irritating than the average French Canadian.  (That is except for William Shatner as I heartily enjoy the work of Montréal’s most famous son!)

All throughout Quebec they love the New Orleans Saints for some reason.

To brutally muscle his way into everyday parlance, Mitch Cliché would stretch these sayings to the limit of applicability.  For instance, when Bertram heard that a woman named Marie Schipps had been caught cheating on her husband, he said, “Loose lips sink Schipps.”  Mitch took this phrase and somehow shoehorned it into being applicable as to how loose talk and gossip can ruin projects and relationships.  What a reach!

At any rate, clichés are everywhere now and for some reason birds became involved in them.  To decipher these sayings, I went to the original source material to let the expressions interpret themselves.  In other words, I let Mitch Cliché’s mentally disturbed half-nephew Bertram interpret Mitch Cliché’s mentally disturbed half-nephew Bertram.  Now that hopefully I’ve made all twelve of the Lutherans reading that last sentence mildly chuckle, my findings can finally be revealed to a wider and far more enthusiastically apathetic audience.

Apparently, lovely women were the reason
for immeasurable sunken Allied tonnage.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

My first thought when I read this one was, “Oh, really?  What backwoods country uses that exchange rate?”  But as I had to take this cliché at its word, I went bird hunting.  Armed only with a shopping cart, I intrepidly went straight to my grocer’s freezer.  After yelling at me to get out of his refrigerator, my grocer gave me directions to an actual grocery store where I bravely bought three 26-lb. Butterball turkeys.  Departing the establishment, I looked for a bush somewhere nearby.  Then after unwrapping the turkeys, I flung two of them at the bush.  The other one stayed right in my hand as I waited patiently for the results.

After about 20 solid minutes, I admittedly felt rather foolish.  However, this was nothing compared to how I felt when the second hour began and by the time hour 3 fired up, I finally decided to drop the remaining turkey from my hand.  I then left, trying to avoid the curious stares of the children from the library window where the bush was in front of in the first place.

I eventually concluded that the cliché was wrong.  The two birds not only decidedly weighed more than the lone bird I held but they also collectively cost more as well.  Maybe “worth” in the cliché refers to their souls or how they benefit society overall.  After realizing that trying to prove that birds had souls would require the use of flowcharts, diagrams, and several protractors, I concluded my research and went right back to finish reading my book in the bathroom.

I was going to throw turkeys at them,
but they already had plenty of their own after 1994.

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

I have never owned a chicken, so I thought that since I couldn’t apply this one, I would just move on and get back to the bathroom for more reading.  But that would only cheat you, dear reader.  After a trip to a local farm, I emerged with four stolen chickens.  (After all, good and sincere scientific research has no funding to influence the results.) 

My first question was what do chickens hatch?  Does it refer to the hatching of thoughts and ideas?  Are the intentions perhaps more nefarious and chickens plot overthrows or sabotage of some kind?  I interrogated my purloined hens for about 15 minutes and got nowhere.  Plus, under the hot lamps, they only began to smell more delicious.  Tamping down my urge to get a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s, I then remembered that chickens hatch from chicken eggs.  How novel!  (These are the breakthroughs that make that make all the sciencing worth it!)

I bought a dozen eggs from a grocery store.  Of course, I had to take the contents of the carton on faith, assuming that there were twelve inside, since I did not want to risk counting of any sort before they hatched.  Leaving the eggs out on the kitchen counter, I waited for something to happen.  After three weeks, despite a putrid smell and my acquisition of an acute case of salmonella poisoning, no chickens emerged.

Frustrated and distraught with my findings, I then remembered the four chickens I originally smuggled out of the farm.  Since over five months had now passed from when I had placed them in the trunk of my car after my failed but spirited interrogation, they were a little worse for wear, or as we like to say in the scientific community, dead.  Grabbing several thousand air fresheners and dousing the car with enough Febreze to gag a pack mule, I did what any scientist worth his weight in microscopes would do.  I gave up and shruggingly decided that the cliché had to be true because I couldn’t prove otherwise.  (As a footnote, the farm turned out to be unreasonably hostile when I selflessly returned the chickens.)

If Christ didn’t rise, would we ever have chocolate Easter eggs? 
Having said that, I suppose in that context it wouldn’t matter anyway.

“The early bird catches the worm.”

The thought that struck me about this one was that supposedly worms get up early in the morning.  But why would they?  They are in the ground and presumably happy.  Why destroy that feeling by getting up at the crack of dawn like so many ignorant humans do?  Do they have a job to get to?  Are they misguided like so many others who think they can beat morning traffic by getting up seven hours earlier for their commute?  (One might win the occasional traffic battle, but in the long run, we all lose the war…) 

After looking at the best possibly true quote sites on the interwebs, I learned that Benjamin Franklin had originally said this cliché well over fifty years ago.  Franklin, as you might remember, had also discovered that lightning was electricity.  All I can say about that is this: Incredible!  (But come to think of it, what else could lightning be?  Did someone back then truly think that lightning was made up of plywood or Styrofoam or marshmallows?  C’mon, this stuff lights up the sky!  And this was a “great discovery”?  This is comparable to “discovering” land: like it wasn’t there yesterday, Magellan.)

Despite my scientific whining, I got up early in the morning anyway to see if any bird was up to indeed getting its presumably early rising worm.  Much to my surprise, the bird wasn’t even awake.  Granted, as it was the middle of December, most birds couldn’t penetrate the 14 feet of snow and permafrost covering the ground where the worms are obviously tobogganing and building snow-worms and having a grand old time.  Therefore, I went back inside to my warm and welcoming bed and waited until spring.   

During the long interval, I forgot that I was waiting for something in the first place.  When I eventually remembered around the eve of Michaelmas, since I was putting up my Michaelmas decorations as we all do, I concluded that if the worms are up that early, they simply deserve to get nailed anyway.  Why can’t they sleep in?  I mean, that’s exactly what I did and for that reason, I can neither prove nor disprove that cliché.

Once the lightning struck, Franklin discovered he had newfound super speed powers!
Here he is pictured with young Wallace West, the Childe Flash.

“Never put all your eggs in one basket.”

Being a human being, I can’t lay eggs like a robin or a blue jay or a duck-billed platypus.  Believe you me, I certainly tried, and all I received for my efforts was a pelvic tear and admittedly bewildered looks from the other people waiting in my section at the DMV at the time.  In the meantime, I reread the cliché and thought that if I got another creature’s eggs, the odds were better that I could follow through on this.  Grabbing a random duck, I experimented over the course of several hours in countless attempts to get the eggs out. 

If you decide to follow in my gallant research footsteps in this area, I have a handy step-by-step process here:

  • Step #1: Grab the duck by the head with one hand. 
  • Step #2: Place your other hand around the neck of the duck.
  • Step #3: Using the same hand around the duck’s neck from Step #2, quickly pull the hand on the neck down while still holding the duck’s head with the other hand from Step #1.
  • Step #4: An egg should be forced out of the duck at high speed.
  • Step #5: Depending on how many eggs you need, repeat Step #3 as many times as necessary.
  • Step #6: When done, release the duck into the wild so it can live free, increasing the chances that a fearless hunter will blow it out of the sky.


Before starting the above steps, please make sure that the duck is female.  (Fortunately, I went through only three ducks before I discovered that mistake.)

Now having several eggs, I found my old Easter basket and decided that it would be more than suitable for this process.  I put some of the eggs in it, with the rest going into the fridge.  Remarkably and apparently despite all my efforts, this cliché did turn out to be true in all aspects!  After some time, the eggs left in the basket on the counter started to decompose and the ones in the fridge managed to stay fresher longer!  There would have been a disastrous result if they were all in the same container.  

I then recalled that I had left eggs out on the counter two clichés ago.  You’d think that I would’ve remembered that, but no.  Regardless of my disregard for my prior research, don’t put all your eggs into one basket.

I was going to use this basket initially, but it was occupied at the time.

These are just some of the literal applications one can use when dealing with clichés.  If only Mitch Cliché were here today to see this incredible amount of scientific research being done in his name!  What would he say exactly?  Probably something clichéd in French, which I do not speak.  Despite the language barrier coming from a dead man, when all is said and done, everyone reading this now knows how to correctly extract eggs from a duck.  And that my friends, is yet another reason why benevolent and incorruptible science should never ever be questioned or examined.  You’re welcome.

As we go to press, my fictional research team informs me that there are more examples on how clichés have infiltrated everyday communication.  I have a hard time believing this report from the team as they don’t truly exist.  However, I will be back in two shakes of a lamb’s tail to investigate these clichés as well.

Published by benjaminawink

Being at best a lackadaisical procrastinator, this is purely an exercise in maintaining a writing habit for yours truly. This will obviously lead to the lucrative and inevitable book/movie/infomercial deal. I promise to never engage in hyperbole about my blog, which will be the greatest blog mankind has ever known since blogs started back in 1543. I won't promise anything other than a few laughs, a few tears, and maybe, just maybe, a few lessons about how to make smokehouse barbecue in your backyard.

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