The case of the naked jaybird.

You’d be surprised what people ask a bird detective. Or maybe not. It’s hard to surprise yourself these days.

But this case isn’t about being surprised. It’s about a silly simile…

I was meeting a college professor buddy for a drink. He usually has all the answers. This time the prof turned the tables.

“Got a bird question.”

I said what no detective should say. “Shoot.”

“This morning, after my shower,” he said, “I walked into the kitchen with no clothes on.”

He added, “Been workin’ out. I’m proud of the old bod. But my wife gives me this shocked look.”

I sipped my shot and beer, a current combo of choice.

“Well, you were giving her a look,” I said.

“Then my wife shouts the words I need to ask you about. She says: ‘Why are you walkin’ around naked as a jaybird?’

Hmm, I think, interesting…

The prof slaps the bar and says, “Where’d that expression come from? Solve that, and your next boilermaker’s on me.”

This got me thinking about why a shot and beer is called a boilermaker, another mystery.

“Meet me here tomorrow.” I said. And get ready to buy.

I went to the detective’s best friend, Mr. Google. He had nothing. Just theories: baby birds being naked, jailbirds being stripped, some others that were too bird-brained to mention.

Nobody knows where the freakin’ phrase started.

But nobody had asked a bird detective, until now.

Didn’t take me long to crack the case without even cracking a field guide.

I just thought of the last blue jay I’d seen.

Or the Scrub Jay in California, the Steller’s Jay in Arizona. Even a tan and blue Jay in Europe.

Each stuck out like a hooker at grandma’s bingo party.

The phrase “naked as a jaybird” came about because people noticed, as I have, that a jay is indecently exposed.

It’s so loud in color and voice, that it can’t hide. It’s uncovered, revealed, naked to the world, wherever it goes.

Naked as a jaybird.

The prof will recognize the naked truth. But will he honor our deal and buy the boilermaker? I have no doubt.

The only doubt I have is that I’ll get to the origin of the phrase “boilermaker.” That’s my next job. But, before I start, I’ll need to soak up a little research.

4 Responses to “The case of the naked jaybird.”

  1. Marc D. says:

    As Guttman told Spade, “You are indeed a character, sir. One never knows what you’ll do or say next, but rest assured it’ll be amazing.”

  2. Marc D. says:

    One more Guttmanism: “Let’s talk about the bird. Have you any idea of what it’s worth? If I told you half, you’d call me a liar.”

  3. John Johnston says:

    I like the word naked. I like it a lot better than nude. Naked is under the sheets with a lover. Naked is frolicking up in the hayloft, making hay. Naked is a moonlight dip in the pond with someone who didn’t take much persuasion.
    Nude, on the other hand, is an oil portrait hanging on some museum wall. If a jaybird wants to be naked, that’s OK with me.

  4. Joe says:

    The Etymology Online Dictionary seems to suggest something otherwise, though I certainly can’t argue with your logic. If the etymology dictionary is right about the phrase’s origins, I wonder where “naked as a robin” might have come from.

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=jaybird&searchmode=none

Leave a Comment