I like exaggerations, similes and metaphors. They allow you to be expressive and create word associations that add an extra layer of description. I've talked about spiders enough for you to know I hate them, and because I hate them, I like to overstate their size by suggesting they're as big as a state in the union just so you know I'm not talking about any old house spider you could squish with your thumb. There was a hairy one the size of Montana in the pool last week, and the men who were treating the water and folding up the winter cover laughed when I said that I could never go outside again.
My news editor sent an email the other day asking me to write about an event in Small Town, and she said we need to cover it "like dew on Dixie." That simile was new to me, and now I can't seem to stop using it. "Like white on rice" means the same thing, but that has been used up, and it doesn't have the bonus of alliteration that the Dixie line provides.
Over the weekend, a cashier at Borders talked me into buying The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a collection of letters describing the island of Guernsey during the German occupation. In the second letter, the author describes someone speaking before an audience and taking to it "like a drunkard to rum," and now I've got another simile to add to my arsenal. Doesn't a line like that make the point better than saying something like, "and she related well to her audience," and isn't it more colorful? I prefer gin to rum, but I can imagine how much a drunkard would really really like it.
Speaking of gin, I've heard it described as Mother's Ruin, and I take that as a sort of metaphor. A gin and tonic can hit the spot, and if a mother were to let it hit the spot too often, I can see how she might go to ruin over time.
So, I think the next time I see a spider the size of New Jersey in my back yard, I'll calm my nerves with a tumbler full of mother's ruin. And I'll slip out into the yard either quiet as a mouse or noisy to beat the band, and I'll saturate the place with enough repellent to fill Lake Superior. Like dew on Dixie.
What are your favorite exaggerations, similes or metaphors?