Exergasia (ex-er-ga’-si-a): Repetition of the same idea, changing either its words, its delivery, or the general treatment it is given. A method for amplification, variation, and explanation. As such, exergasia compares to the progymnasmata exercises (rudimentary exercises intended to prepare students of rhetoric for the creation and performance of complete practice orations).

This isn’t what I thought it would be. Driving across country has been a nightmare so far. In Pennsylvania, I almost ran over a Quaker man pulling a load of oats in a little black wagon. In Ohio, I sat on a buckeye and had to go to the emergency room. This trip has been far removed from my expectations. In Indiana, a man said “ope” to me and pushed me out of his way. I’m still trying to figure this out, but I bruised my elbow when it hit the wall. You’d never expect this in a thousand years. In Illinois, the state dance is the square dance. I stumbled into a square dance den where sweaty men and women were drinking hard cider and doing a suggestive movement called “do-si-do” and “Ladies In, Men Sashay” that mimics the movement of mating Whooping Cranes. This was not what I bargained for. I thought my trip would be joyful with wonderful sights to see. Probably, when I get to the Grand Canyon, it will be closed for repairs. Right now, I am staying in a reconstructed farm homestead in Nebraska. The proprietor took my car for “authenticity’s sake.” His son forced me to wear overhauls and a straw hat for “authenticity’s sake” and they took my cellphone for the same reason. I have to work 3 twelve-hour days in the fields before I can get my car, clothes and phone back. I feel like I’m in a sequel to “Deliverance” without the creepy banjo-playing kid.

After 3 days of bizarre weirdness I am back on the road again. At this point, I wouldn’t recommend a cross-country driving trip to anybody. I thought it was going to be a straight-up fun adventure. So far it hasn’t been, unless you count bad things as adventurous. Nevertheless, I’m pushing on. I bought a Ruger .357 in Nebraska where they have liberal gun laws. They even throw in a free box of ammunition. I learned to shoot guns when I was a Boy Scout, so I can handle the .357. If anybody screws with me in Wyoming, it is likely I’ll threaten to shoot them. After that, I’ll probably turn around and go back to New York. If I follow through with my threat, I can hide out on the Canadian border forever.

Damn, I wish it was different: puffy clouds, shining sun, interesting sites to see. But no, nowhere near it. I’ve taken an unexpected car ride into Hell. I expect to see Satan in the passenger seat of my car grinning like the poorly groomed hitch-hiker I picked up at the Wyoming border.

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

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