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Similie for the camera!

Similes have a tendency to become entrenched in the language. Though they may originally be an expression of originality, a creative link between two ideas never before formed, they soon are overused and undervalued figures of speech not given a second thought by users, addicted to similes in the way that other users are addicted to methamphetamine. Because a simile has a set meaning belied by its expression, it refers only to one meaning or sense of its base word, like any unambiguous phrase. Relying on and overfrequently drawing from a well of hackneyed similes may lead to such misuses as the following:

ON RELUCTANTLY BUT GRACIOUSLY ACCEPTING THE GIFT OF AN ALMOST CERTAINLY STOLEN GOLD WATCH FROM A DISHONEST PAWNBROKER AND OLD FRIEND ON THE OCCASION OF MY THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY

    My first mistake was accepting the word
   of a wily member of the local fauna;
   though the watch he gave me as free as a bird,
   all his wares were as hot as a sauna. 

The sheriff invited us later that night o'er for supper; I guessed he'd get violent; I knew that he knew, and he knew that I knew that he knew, but I sat there silent.

    Every bite of the food, of the drink every sip,
   proved the chef was clever as a fox:
   the cheddar was as sharp as a whip,
   the liquor as strong as an ox. 

There was something funny, though, about that whiskey, I thought as my lips I moistened; I woke up that night in a prison cell, and I knew then that I had been poisoned.

    Trapped in this airless and windowless coop,
   my prospects were certainly frightening.
   The chains 'round my wrists were as thick as pea soup;
   I was stuck as fast as lightening. 

My thoughts turned to flight: perhaps I could return to the embrace of my dear old Hillary; but how could I manage to evade the cruel grasp of the joggs, the stocks, and the pillory?

    I wondered if I could escape this dark cell,
   if I could return home: whether
   I could get to where windows were clear as a bell,
   making rooms as light as a feather. 

I worked my hands free, and I cut a long dash through dark: I ran for my life; "Smile! You're on Candid Camera!" shouted the sheriff, the pawn broker, and my wife.

    My complete astonishment must have shone,
   for their smiles were honest and bright.
   Their humor was as dry as a bone,
   but my spirits as high as a kite. 

DANIEL W. GALEF

Montclair, New Jersey

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Author:Galef, Daniel W.
Publication:Word Ways
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2013
Words:500
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