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Language of the Wild Kingdom
Oct. 10, 2011
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by Ivan Raconteur

 We humans tend to think of ourselves as superior beings, and yet, we use our animal friends to define ourselves and those around us.

For example, we might lead a dog’s life (which probably isn’t all that bad), and we might work like a dog until we are dog tired.

If a person is gifted in the water, we might say she swims like a fish.

Alternatively, if one consumes a few too many adult beverages, he might be accused of drinking like a fish. I’ve never quite understood that one, but the expression has been around since 1640, so we are probably stuck with it.

In order to illustrate how ingrained animal expressions are in our language, I will share a story about a party I recently hosted at the bachelor pad.

Everyone was there.

My friend Mary Haddalam helped me get ready. She was busy as a beaver all afternoon. She laid out an impressive table, and she looked like the cat who ate the canary when she was done.

Mary is a kind and generous person, although she does sometimes hog the blankets if we take a little catnap.

Moose Lodge was the first to arrive. He said he was as hungry as a bear, which was no surprise, because he has always been an enthusiastic trencherman (although some unkind acquaintances say he eats like a pig).

Moose is in the law enforcement field. He told us about a case he had been working on. He was happy as a clam and proud as a peacock, because he had persuaded one of the suspects to rat out his accomplices. Moose said his stool pigeon sang like a canary when they got him into custody.

It has been said that Moose is on the awkward side, and he can be like a bull in a china shop when he is off duty.

Moose is a big fellow, and some people say he looks as dumb as an ox, but he is no bird brain. He is actually as wise as an owl.

Willy Orwonie and Bob Uppandown showed up next.

Willy shared an off-color anecdote that sounded a bit fishy.

Bob said it was just another cock-and-bull story.

While they were sorting that out, my foxy friends, Amanda Huggankisse and Kari Onnalot, showed up, followed by Warpin Youngmynds, the school teacher.

From then on, the guests began to multiply like rabbits.

Bill Ulottabux, the engineer, was one of the next to arrive.

There was a time, back in the days he was being henpecked by he ex-wife, when he used to knock back the drinks as quick as a bunny, and he always ended up drunk as a skunk and mean as a snake. Fortunately, he gave up the hooch cold turkey a couple of years ago, and has been a welcome guest ever since.

Bill headed for the buffet table. One wouldn’t say he pigged out, but he did wolf down some snacks in a hurry.

Then, Bill went over to talk to Warpin, who was craning his long neck as he looked around the room.

Warpin is blind as a bat, but he is too vain to wear his spectacles at parties.

Amanda, in contrast, has an eagle eye.

She came over to chat, and observed that Ann Anotherthing, who was across the room talking to Mary, was eating like a bird and had lost some weight.

We caught up on the news of our mutual friends.

Then, Amanda reminisced about the night years ago, when we were all young and free as birds, when we went for a nocturnal swim like a bunch of jaybirds.

She opined that we were all as loose as a goose and happy as larks in those days, and I couldn’t disagree with her.

Kari joined us and cackled like a hen when we reminded her about the midnight swimming party.

She made reference to a certain member of the group who she used to think was slow as a turtle. She said she found out that night that he was slippery as an eel.

Amanda called Kari a silly goose, and said she had told her that all along.

As the night went on, the adult beverages went down at a brisk pace. Some of the guests began to act squirrelly.

A couple of the fellows started to horse around, and a lamp got knocked over.

Mary, who is normally as gentle as a lamb, got mad as a wet hen about the lamp.

Willy, who was responsible for the incident, looked sheepish and was as quiet as a mouse.

Bob was quiet for a minute, too, then started to laugh like a hyena, and Willy joined in.

“Let’s have a little less horseplay,” Moose suggested with mock severity.

Bob can be bullheaded, and Willy is as stubborn as a mule, but owing to the fact that Moose is healthy as a horse and strong as an ox, they calmed down in a hurry, because they didn’t want to get his goat.

Willy always says (when Moose isn’t around) that he is no chicken and isn’t afraid of Moose, but we all remember the day he met Moose. He thought he had Moose buffaloed, but he soon realized that old Moose is as sly as a fox, and Willy was sweating like a pig when Moose caught Willy trying to play a prank on him.

We stayed up late and the evening was a success. We had a lot of fun, but no one went hog wild.

All the guests said they had a whale of a time at the party.


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