Birds, Hands & Bushes

Okay, time for a reality check.

Unless you are a magician or something and unless you can make birds appear where they normally shouldn’t appear — you need to stop telling people (as you cradle that one bird in your hand) that somewhere nearby there are definitely two birds in a bush.

It’s a lie, plain and simple — and it must stop.

First and foremost — having a bird in your hand in this day and age while we’re out and about near other citizens isn’t the smartest idea with this whole bird flu thing about to kill the entire population of the globe. But even worse than carrying foul in your fingers is the fact that you proclaim at the top of your lungs no matter where you are that there are also two birds in a bush. And what’s this whole thing with a bird being WORTH two more in the bush? Everyone knows that if you go to a pet store to buy birds, this whole proclimation is revealed as a total sham.

Here, let’s look at the math before continuing:

Bird #1: $15.99
Bird #2: $15.99
Bird #3: $15.99

Assuming we are only purchasing the same kind of bird, and they’re all priced out at a reasonable $15.99, we can most likely come up with this conclusion:

If Bird #1 is worth $15.99, and Birds #2 and #3 (collectively) are worth $31.98 (without tax or supplies) then it is plainly obvious to me and all of you that $15.99 is not worth $31.98. I mean, look at those two numbers. It’s obvious someone wasn’t paying attention in first grade math class.

Sure, some may say that the bush itself is worth something as well, and if you go to some kind of garden center you’ll see that most average-sized bushes that you’ll install yourself usually run about $40. That being said, if we update our math here we’ll see that if Bird #1 is worth $15.99 and Birds #2 and #3 and the bush are now collectively worth $71.98 (without tax, supplies or planting soil) that $15.99 definitely is not worth $71.98.

Thus, a bird in the hand is NOT worth two in the bush.

Some real big proponents of the bird in the hand scenario will probably say that, well, a bird in the hand can possibly be treated as performance art. I.e., you could go out in the public, set up a little cardboard box (for donations) and then do little performances with your bird. Standing outside in a busy area of Hollywood, one might pull in about $25 a day doing mini-bird in hand performances. This, of course, will offset the math we’ve been working with.

In this scenario, a bird in the hand (now worth $40.99) is still nowhere near being worthy of the two birds and the bush (worth $71.98). Some may say that if the person with the bird in their hand actually goes out and performs more than one day they will eventually make way more money than the $71.98 — but as we all very well know, the burnout rate of people/bird in hand performers is extremely high and when push comes to shove you’re going to end up being faced with a person/bird washout who is now unable to make any money, has a dead bird on their hands, and that such a thing definitely has no worthiness compared to two birds and a well-manicured bush.

That being said, I think Mr. Bird In Hand has some “classic-phrase” revising to do.

11 comments on “Birds, Hands & Bushes

  1. H.F. Peterman - March 4, 2006 at 9:26 am -

    Thank you! as a recovering bird-in-hand-performer (5 years feather free) I can’t thank you enough for your harsh, but needed words.

    If this post saves just one cockeyed optimist, who gets himself mixed up in the high stakes game of avian diplomacy and international birding…then, damn it, it was all worth it.

  2. nic - March 4, 2006 at 9:58 am -

    Funny how no one ever bothered to work that out before. Or even questioned it, for that matter.

  3. Pauly D - March 4, 2006 at 9:59 am -

    I tackle the tough questions, Nic.

  4. Dave2 - March 4, 2006 at 10:21 am -

    Now if you could just get down to the bottom of this “a penny saved is a penny earned” thing, I’d be most grateful.

    Don’t you have to earn the penny BEFORE you can save the penny? Or maybe it’s all backwards, in which case if the saved penny wasn’t earned… was the penny stolen? I guess it could have been a gift, who gives a penny as a gift? Did they find the penny? Maybe they took it from one of those “have a penny give a penny, need a penny take a penny” jars that sit at the checkout?

    I suppose that this could be one of those sayings whose real meaning has been lost in the antiquities of time (and falling penny value), but it’s always confused me greatly.

  5. Michael O'Connor - March 4, 2006 at 12:13 pm -

    I grew up with two catch phrases my father believed were pure gold:

    1. “It’s six of one, half dozen of another.” (Silent retort: Yeah, big guy, but what does that MEAN?”)

    2. (After complaining he let the juice from the peas run through the crispy shoestring potatos on my dinner plate, thereby rendering them soggy and hopelessly inedible) “It all goes down the same pipe.” (Silent retort: “OK, Dad, let’s go down to Dairy queen and have you test that theory out on a chili sundae or hot fudge dog.”)

    Some forty years later I am still haunted by the specter of these meaningless phrases. Thanks for your good work, Dr. Paul. You bring healing to the sick of heart and broken of spirit. If only “Words For My Enjoyment” had existed back in the Sixties the world might be a saner place.

    Oh well . . . better late than never.

  6. PatsyAnn - March 4, 2006 at 12:31 pm -

    big bubbles, no troubles

  7. Bre - March 4, 2006 at 3:04 pm -

    Being a bird owner, I myself see the incredible wisdom in this statement. I’ve had to crawl on my hands and knees through sticker bushes to get to an escaped pet…not a good scenario!

  8. annabel lee - March 4, 2006 at 3:32 pm -

    You’ll be happy to know that all of the math in this post is correct. Yes, I checked it as I read it. But for the record, I can, in fact, prove that 1=2. (When I taught calculus in college, we’d start off with an algebra review, and I’d write the proof on the board, and I told my students they couldn’t leave until they found the flaw. Inevitably, one of them would say, “There’s nothing wrong in the proof,” to which I’d respond, “OK, give me $2, I’ll give you $1 back, and we’ll be even.”)

  9. Elizabeth - March 4, 2006 at 7:22 pm -

    Yes, but does a Stitch in Time really save Nine? Is there one perfect stitch that saves you having to make nine stitches later? I don’t sew, so I never really got that one.

    Belinda sent me, I’m hooked, and will be standing outside Barnes & Noble tomorrow morning first thing to get a copy of “Mental Floss”. Well, there’s a Starbucks there too, so I’d be going anyway.

  10. Belinda - March 4, 2006 at 9:21 pm -

    Been sitting on my hands as long as I could stand it over this little phrase–it’s from back when there WASN’T a “bird store,” dude! And don’t act like you didn’t know that perfectly well when you wrote this. All it means is that a sure thing (the bird you’ve already shot, killed, and have in your hand to take home and eat) has more value to a hungry person than those two wiley fowl hiding in the brush, which you have no idea whether you’ll be able to find in the first place, much less flush, hit, find again, and bring home. Now imagine that this aphorism originated before the advent of gunpowder, and, well…it gets clearer all the time! Better to have something small and reliable than a chance at something bigger but riskier? How about changing it to, “I’d rather have $100 in my hand than a raffle ticket for a chance at a $200 prize?”

    There. I am officially the dork who’s been goaded into “explaining” what everyone already knew. Mock me at will.

    Remind me to never take you quail hunting (you never know who might go all Cheney on you) or shopping for chicken.

    And Dave, you knucklehead, the penny you save will eventually earn another penny’s interest…it’s money that can be used in the future instead of being spent and gone forever, and besides, it’s a…oh, never mind. You guys are just sucking me into making an ass of myself.

    Elizabeth, I’ll email you about the stitches. 😉

  11. Boogie's Mom - March 6, 2006 at 9:26 am -

    You have a strange mind.

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