Monday, June 08, 2009

Exaggerations, Similes and Metaphors the Size of Texas

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?


kyle@sift said...

I have always been fond of...
"Like a bum on a bologna sandwich"

Sister #1 said...

How about one form Dixie, via your brother-in-law. "Finer than frog hair", as in really good.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I often say that the spider I saw had passengers, and bumble bees have flight attendants, not that I'm prone to exaggeration.

I think similes and metaphors are essential for driving home a point without the drive.

Excellent post.

Shannon and Paul said...

As the brilliant philosopher Gregory House once said, "The point of metaphors is to scare people from doing things by telling them that something much scarier is going to happen than what will really happen. God, I wish I had a metaphor to explain that better."

More importantly... did you like the book? I read it last fall and liked it a lot more than I expected. Have been recommending it and giving it around. Hurrah for handselling.

Scout said...

Kyle, that's another new one, and a good one at that.

Sister, I've never heard him say that, but it's makes for an interesting picture.

Cheri, I'll use the passenger thing!

Shannon, I have only read a few pages so far because I'm reading Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate and want to finish it before I move onto the next book in the stack.

lynn said...

I quite like 'mad as a box of frogs'.

Ew, Robyn. Spiders are the most terrible things and yes I agree they are the size of small animals and I'm sure ours in the UK are probably smaller than yours. That's a scary thought.
It was quite bad tonight, on popping out at midnight, to find an exodus of snails leaving the garden and heading for the kerb. Why? Also; Ew. Brr. I loathe all crawlies.

Mark said...

I'd love to join in, but I'm busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest, and the network's slower than molasses in January. And if my daddy heard me say that he'd be madder than a wet hen.