Drug addicts around the world are being advised, in an extraordinary turnabout, to continue using at current levels, or to taper off gradually, thereby avoiding the latest species-to-species migration of the dreaded bird flu. (Yes, yes, still a thing, despite Omicron getting all the press.) Jumps of this sort, from the animal to the figurative realm, are of course rare, and epidemiologists have joined forces with linguists to better understand the phenomenon. The underlying concern is that, by using a portal such as the ubiquitous idiom, the strain could gain access to all but the most plain-spoken and literal-thinking humans, and that they would then be the winners of the evolutionary sweepstakes.
While it’s too early to issue sweeping prohibitions against extended metaphors and figures of speech, scientists are suggesting that poetry readings be avoided until further notice.
To summarize, then, in addition to the commonsense guidelines that in the past have focused mainly on discouraging people from biting the heads off ducks, geese and common yard birds, the following recommendations apply until the danger has subsided:
- Be as old as possible. If you overhear a youngster suggesting that you are “no spring chicken” be grateful that your junior commentator is now more susceptible than you are.*
- Take no measures to improve your golf game, keeping birdies and eagles in either the snowballs chance in hell or the dumb luck category.
- Any birds currently in the hand should be freed immediately. Those in the bush should be left in the bush.
- Jailbirds of a feather should make every effort not to, um, flock together.
- Finally, sleep late—do not fight the early bird for its rightful worm. A growing body of expert opinion suggests that Lumbricus terrestris is next up for infection; then fish, who will need to be re-trained to stay out of schools.
* Might as well go ahead and work this one in while you’re at it:
“Y’know, little fella, sometimes people ask me if I wish I was younger. And I say, well, that depends. Would I have to be that STUPID again?”