Anacoloutha


Anacoloutha (an-a-co’-lu-tha): Substituting one word with another whose meaning is very close to the original, but in a non-reciprocal fashion; that is, one could not use the first, original word as a substitute for the second. This is the opposite of acoloutha.


There is a trellis outside my window entwined with blooming roses, velvet red, soft, twisted, filling my room with breeze-driven shadows brushing along the walls. I can hear the waves hitting the beach. The tide is coming in.

I lay there wondering about hope and it’s vague projections of wobbly futures, trying to form a hope: something to want, but not to need. I could only conjure what I had lost, especially my dog “Goddamnit“ who ran away during the 4th of July fireworks. I was yelling “Goddamnit” out in my yard for two hours and then gave up. I yelled “shit” and a big expensive-looking dog shot out of the bushes by my house, knocked me down, and licked my face. I thought about the one-two-ness of it all. I missed Godammnit, but Shit was a pretty good replacement. But, I hadn’t hoped for Shit. I just wanted to bring Godamnit back home. Laying there, I realized that hoping was a waste of time, that something always comes along to fill the gap. In my case, right then, it was Shit. Who knows? In your case it could be a raccoon or a man or a woman. And, I think you can be optimistic without being hopeful. That means you think good things can happen without knowing what they are! In fact, you may not even think they’re good.

I met my first wife when I got a flat tire outside of Bakersfield. She pulled up in a dune buggy, we got married, and the rest was misery until we divorced three weeks later—barely missing the annulment deadline. But, the first two days were bliss at a motel near San Luis Obispo. On day three, she tried to smother me with a pillow because I remarked on her hairy armpits. It was like she had two lumps of coal grafted to her armpits—I called them her “coal pits.” I yelled “shit!” when she came after me with the pillow, and Shit bounded through the open motel window and growled and barked at her. She got off of me, threw the pillow at Shit and ran out the door. She took the car, and disappeared. I was marooned at the motel with Shit. I got $100 out of the motel’s ATM and packed Shit’s dog dish along with my clothes in my rolly-bag, hooked up Shit’s leash, and Shit and I started walking toward Santa Barbara. We got about 100 yards when an Audi convertible pulled over and the driver asked us if we needed a lift. She was beautiful and kind looking. Shit and I climbed in the car and we took off toward Santa Barbara. She asked me my dog’s name and I told her “Shit.” “That’s fantastic,” she said. I felt like a door had opened in my soul, letting in light, clearing out the darkness. I told her what had happened and she invited us to stay with her for a couple of days. That was one year ago. Nancy’s out of town on business right now and Shit and I are in charge of the villa. Nancy and I are going to have a baby girl. We’re going to name her Hope.


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

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