Every year, all the birds in the world get together for a potluck. You may not have known this. You may not even believe it now.
Indulge me—it’s kind of essential for the joke. Some folks call it willing suspension of disbelief. I suggest you try it.
And at each year’s banquet, which always begins at 11:00 a.m. sharp, each bird brings a dish for one of the other birds. That way every feathery attendee is guaranteed something to eat—a real necessity, given how ravenous some birds can be. Especially the raven.
Now, you may be wondering how each bird knows what to bring, and who gets which dish. Well, these birds are freakin smart—they hand out assignments at the end of each potluck for the following year’s event. And every bird tingles with anticipation during the announcements, because all of them really, really want to get the bratwurst next year. Birds just love bratwurst, after all.
But there’s a catch. If any bird fails to arrive by 11:00, on the nose, then the food brought for him or her can be shared by all the birds that ARE present. A communal dish, if you will.
So here we are at 10:45, and this year’s banquet is about to begin. Here comes the cardinal with the quesadilla for the condor. And the blackbird, carrying the baked beans for the blue-footed boobie.
10:50. Hundreds of birds have gathered. The hummingbird delivers the hummus for the heron. The sparrow cries out with glee, for the starling has arrived with his sushi.
The mockingbird brings the meatloaf for the magpie.
10:55. The assemblage gasps: look, it’s the blue jay with the bratwurst for the Arctic tern! Ahhhh, the bratwurst. The birds drool … and scan the horizon for the as-of-yet absent tern.
10:56. No tern. 10:57. The birds start to fidget, anticipating the chance to bite into the delicious bratwurst. 10:58. The tern is nowhere to be seen; the warbling, chirping, and tweeting becomes overwhelming.
10:59. The birds shuffle closer to the bratwurst … but, just as the clock is about to turn, the tern swoops in.
And all the birds cry out in unison:
“Oh no—it’s a tern for the wurst!”