As Mad as a Wet Hen


I hope you won’t think me waspish or crabby, but I’m mad as a wet hen. In fact, I may go ape.

Why, I’ve just read — with wall-eyed astonishment — the prediction of the global 2000 study that hundreds of thousands of animal species could be extinguished in the next 20 years. This is no cock-and-bull story, but an official report of the U.S. government. Now, as an animal lover, this predicted loss drives me cuckoo. But the report doesn’t even mention the impact this loss will have on something else I cherish, the English language.

Obviously, English literature derives much of its richness and beauty from the animal world. Think of William Blake without a tiger or Herman Melville without a whale. But what about us ordinary folk who employ homely slang to enliven our speech and expression?

Are we citizens to bury our heads in the sand, ostrich-like, while a bunch of jackasses destroy what’s left of wild habitats? Are we a herd of sheep that will sit idly by like dumb bunnies while corporate sharks and vultures feather their nests and squirrel away vast profits by contaminating the soil and air? Haven’t we had it up to the gills with water pollution? Haven’t we been buffaloed enough by mindless “progress”?

Let me put a bug in your ear. I’m going to talk turkey and give it to you straight from the horse’s mouth. I don’t intend to monkey around , and I will not weasel. And nothing can make me clam up because I’m loaded for bear. Take a gander at what I’ve got to say.

If those old goats in big corporations continue to have their way, soon it will rain acid cats and dogs all over the planet. Let’s not play possum for these skunks. The time has come for concerned citizens to fish or cut bait. We’ve got to outfox these jackals. I’m not talking about merely badgering or goosing them. I think we should make jailbirds of them all, even if we have to hold kangaroo court to do so. If necessary, we ought to hound them to their graves. As you can see, I’m prepared to go hog wild.

Of course, it will not be easy to rescue endangered species, but we mustn’t quail before the difficulties. To win, we’ll have to be as courageous as lions, as cunning as serpents, as stubborn as mules, and as wise as owls. Constant vigilance will be called for. We’ll need eyes like a hawk if we are to mole in and ferret out the information necessary to make our case. And no proceeding at a snail’s pace for us! We’ve got to work like a beaver, float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee!

Also, it will be necessary to raise funds for this work. We should all be prepared to pony up to feed the kitties of animal protection groups. Perhaps we could raise additional funds by sponsoring stag parties and donkey roasts.

Finally, we need to conduct grassroots drives. There’s a lot of potential supporters out there. Virtually every one-horse town has a lodge for the Elks, the Moose, or the Eagles. Then there are the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, the Los Angeles Rams, the Miami Dolphins, and the St. Louis Cardinals. And think of the millions of Americans who, rather than hoof it, have purchased a Cobra, Falcon, Jaguar, Impala, Mustang, or Pinto.

If we could create a stampede by all these people on behalf of animal protection, we could turn the whole thing around in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Unless they are chicken-hearted or have bats in their belfry, they ought to join right up, and if they do, the job would be a lark. Maybe we could actually preserve endangered species! Wouldn’t that be something to crow about?