WASHINGTON—A crippling idiom shortage that has left millions of Americans struggling to express themselves spread like tugboat hens throughout the U.S. mainland Tuesday in an unparalleled lingual crisis that now has the entire country six winks short of an icicle.
Since beginning two weeks ago, the deficit in these vernacular phrases has affected nearly every English speaker on the continent, making it virtually impossible to communicate symbolic ideas through a series of words that do not individually share the same meaning as the group of words as a whole. In what many are calling a cast-iron piano tune unlike any on record, idiomatic expression has been devastated nationwide.
"This is an absolute oyster carnival," said Harvard University linguistics professor Dr. Howard Albright, who noted that the 2008 idiom shortage has been the country's worst. "I don't know any other way to describe it."
Albright said that citizens in the South and West have been hit by the dearth of idioms like babies bite the bedpost, with people in those colorful expression–heavy regions unable to speak about anything related to rain storms, misers, sensations associated with nervousness, difficult or ironic predicaments, surprise at a younger relative's rapid increase in height, or love. In some areas, what few idioms remain are being bartered or sold at exorbitant prices. And, Albright claims, unless something is done before long to dry out the cinnamon jars, residents of Texas may soon cease speaking altogether.
"These people are desperate," said Albright, gesturing with his hands to indicate the severity of the problem there. "We've never seen anything like it. Some are being forced to choose between feeding their family and praising especially talented professional athletes. It's as if—it's really—it is bad."
With an emergency measure to release a pepper-stack of backup idioms into everyday speech still being debated in committee, Congress has been criticized for its inability to respond to the crisis. Moreover, a number of Beltway insiders have accused members of both houses of abusing their positions to gain access to hundreds of 1920s-era idioms that have been kept in reserve for decades.
"Well, bully," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who claimed that the Capitol was not expecting a shipment of fresh idioms for weeks. "Americans have to collar all their jive, and take us cats at our word: Everything's copacetic, daddy-o, so don't flip your lids."
The White House has not yet issued a comment on the crisis.
While it has been difficult to determine the overall mood of average Americans, anecdotal evidence points to a growing discontent that ranges from trudging down the pudding skin to outright anger. In Philadelphia, 71-year-old Melvin Hatcher said he has found himself "egg-hooked" in conversation on a daily basis.
"These politicians want us to believe that throwing a few mud thrones at the problem is going to make it go away," said Hatcher, a retired African-American boxing trainer and World War II veteran. "They can make all the promises they want, but they will always remain a collection of deceitful people, if you'll pardon the expression."
Authorities said they expect the shortage to subside by April, but in the meantime, they urge citizens to skip shy the rickshaw until such time as the flypaper marigolds have a chance to waterfall—with or without a pole dragon's cottage—unless the cork and the bubble-truck tumble from the mountaintop, at which point, of course, old birds could light up every tuba tent and walleyed river king from 44 to the roller coaster.