Human Idioms – Barking up the wrong tree

Quatittel and Steven were walking through their designated area on the second moon of the second planet, designated Tobeornot 2b, taking samples and readings as it had been several hundred long-cycles since the last expedition. As they meandered through the forested area, Quatittel asked “Steve, we have been working together for a couple of short-cycles now and I have been curious of something. Is the reason you wear so many clothes a modesty thing?”


This took Steven aback. “Yeah, I guess. Humans cover up for warmth and protection from the elements, but a lot of it has to do with modesty.”


“We Sudopodians never developed the concept of modesty since we are all both male and female and since everyone is the same there is nothing to hide.”


Steven knew that Quatittel was both male and female, but he hadn’t thought about the fact ze was naked. Now he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He wanted to look, even though he has seen zim plenty of times before, he had never looked in ‘that’ manner. His thoughts wandering is probably why he didn’t notice one of the local predators approach. Luckily Quatittel had a few eyestalks scanning around and saw it in time to pull Steven out of the way of an initial attack. Steven moved to position himself between Quatittel and the animal and yelled “Get up in that tree.” indicating toward the closest one. “The datapad said they travel in packs, so there’s probably more around.”


Quatittel started climbing, wondering why Steven would put himself between the predator and zimself. Once up, ze said “I am up. I can see three more about thirty steps out.”


Steven backed up toward the trunk making sure to keep eye contact with the predator. It was canine like, but covered in feathers, with a mouth full of sharp teeth. Steven jumped up, grabbed a branch and pulled himself up with ease. The gravity on this moon was only about half of earth’s so he could move nearly effortlessly. By the time he got situated, the others had arrived and they were roaming around the base of the tree growling and snarling, occasionally trying to jump up and snap at dangling limbs.


“What do we do now?” asked Quatittel.


“We wait until they figure out they are barking up the wrong tree.”


“But they are below the one we are in. Do you think they will move to a different tree?” Quatittel inquired confusedly.


Steven laughed. “That is just another idiom. It means they are mistaken about their course of action.” he explained as he grabbed a piece of unripe fruit and threw it at one of the animals below hitting it hard in the head causing it to run off yelping. “They don’t realize we are not prey.”


“How long do you think they will wait?” Quatittel asked as ze grabbed a piece of fruit and threw it, with less force than Steven, hitting one that just shrugged it off.


“Probably not too long.” Steven answered and grabbed another piece of fruit and hurled it down at the same one Quatittel had hit, causing it to yelp, but not run. “But, predators on old earth would sometimes wait for days.”


“Let us hope it does not take that long.” Quatittel sighed which was followed with a howl that was heard coming from one of the creatures on top of the hill, fifty steps away. This caused all the other creatures under the tree to run off and disappear over the hill. After a little while, when they were sure the predators were gone, they climbed down and resumed their work.


“Why did you get between me and the animal?” Quatittel asked when they next stopped to rest.


“Well, it looked like it had sharp claws and teeth and I wasn’t sure how you would fare if it attacked you. I knew that I would just get a scratch, or maybe a cut, but I would live.”


“What about its poison?”


“Poison? I didn’t think about that, I just reacted.”


“For future reference, my outer membrane is extremely flexible and can only be cut by the sharpest of surgical instruments or lasers. Also it is impermeable so the poison in their saliva would have no effect on me.”


“I will keep that in mind next time.”


“I do appreciate the thought though.”


“Anytime Quel, anytime.”

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