Hysteron Proteron

Hysteron Proteron (his’-ter-on pro’-ter-on): Disorder of time. (What should be first, isn’t.)

I put on my shoes. I put on my pants. I put on clean underwear and I dried the floor and mopped it. It was 10.00 am. Then, it was 6.00 am. Then it was 9.00 am. Then, I had supper followed by throwing my hat at my dog Hogan. I don’t know why things go this way—sequences out of sequence, an inability to follow steps or experience time like everybody else. I am the subject of cruel ridicule. If I could put my underpants on first instead of last, I would. But I can’t. No matter how many times I say it to myself: today they go on first, they don’t. When I’m in my room naked and I go to reach for them and pull them over my naked butt, I start to shake all over—so much so that I can’t get my foot in the leg hole. It’s like I’m haunted by an evil spirit whose main goal in haunting me is making me wear my underpants over my pants. One time, I actually saw him. He was wearing his underpants over his pants, had really messy hair and two left hands. He snapped his underpants’ waistband and said “Fruit of the Loom” in a scratchy voice. It scared me. I tried to run away, but he grabbed my underpants from behind and gave me an atomic wedgy. He hoisted me two feet off the floor with one hand. He looked a little bit like my uncle Mel who had passed away 6 months before I was attacked by the wedgy monster. Was it Uncle Mel? He was a joker and I could see him doling out wedgys, but from the afterlife to his own nephew? As mystifying as it all was, everything was about change.

On top of the wedgy monster, there is the warping of time. I will get up at 8.00 am for work, but before I can take a shower it gets dark—moon out, stars twinkling. So, I go back to bed. I look at my clock and it says 12.00 am. I pull back my bedroom curtain and it’s broad daylight outside. So, it’s 12.00 pm. Time for lunch, not bed. I go downstairs and there’s dinner on the table. Mashed potatoes and roasted chicken. My mother admonishes me for wearing my bathrobe to dinner. Then, everybody disappears and it’s 2.00 am and I’m drinking a glass of water from the kitchen sink. Then I see the wedgy monster leaning against the refrigerator. “I don’t see your underpants, boy” he says in a low growling voice. I am terrified. I throw my glass of water at him and it hits him between the eyes. He howls, goes up in flames and turns into a small pile of ashes on the kitchen floor.

It’s over! I rush upstairs to put on my underpants first. I pull a pair from my dresser and stick my feet through the leg holes. I get tangled up, hopping, I trip and fall out my open bedroom window. The reconstituted wedgy monster grabs my twisted underpants before I hit the ground. I am saved. The wedgy monster says: “You’re a good boy. Your Uncle Mel tells me you’re his favorite. That means a lot to me. Mel is one of our top wedgy men and dos not mince words. So, I ‘m letting you go. The order of things will return to normal. Goodbye.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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