To muscle in on someone else’s action. To take a piece of the pie.
So when someone makes an honest (or dishonest) dollar, someone who wets their beak is a guy who takes some unearned cash from that person. Simple enough to understand. But let’s dig a little deeper.
What I’m having difficulty understanding is how it even came to be an expression. People don’t have beaks, and getting a beak wet would have little monetary value to anyone. I thought you were a guy trying to horn in on my cash, not a dehydrated chicken.
Maybe, many years ago, a guy lived in a slum where his landlord was a giant, gruff, overweight pigeon who sweated a lot. One month the pigeon comes to collect, only this time his meek tenant has no more money to pay him with. Destitute and out of options, the tenant scrambles to think of an equivalent payoff that will satisfy one of his landlord’s dire needs without lightening the man’s already meager account balance. “I’m really sorry sir, I have no more money to my name…”
“…but I do have this moist towelette.”
Also, for some reason, I imagine the giant pigeon looks like Dennis Franz.
Another way to look at it: perhaps having a wet beak is an indicator of great wealth within the bird community. I envision two down on their luck, unemployed vultures sitting on a tree branch lamenting: “Did you see how much water that eagle had on his beak? If only we were so lucky. He must be one of those trust fund douchebirds.”
It makes me think that the two biggest things in the bird universe must be extortion and having a wet beak. Like those are the two biggest status symbols in the community. I imagine birds shaking other birds down for money, then depositing it at their “bank,” which is really just a repository of water tubs lined up where birds go to dunk their beaks. Then they stroll outside, or fly, and show off their newly wetted beaks to all the adoring ladybirds.
So, in closing, I’ve deduced that the phrase “wet my beak” came from the fact that birds love to take money they didn’t earn then trade it in for the honor of sticking their bird faces into water tubs filled to the brim. I’d say that’s the most logical explanation for both that and the onset of H1N1.