Acervatio (ak-er-va’-ti-o): Latin term Quintilian employs for both asyndeton (acervatio dissoluta: a loose heap) and polysyndeton (acervatio iuncta:a conjoined heap).
I am a big, bold, beer swilling man from Binghamton. I roll my cigarettes with comic book covers—Batman, Archie, Little LuLu, Flash Gordon, and Donald Duck. I eat cold soup from the can. I am the man! That is, until I have to go to the Post Office.
First—there are the wanted posters. I robbed a mail truck five years ago. My baklava got caught on the truck’s door and pulled off. The driver told me he’d “”keep it quiet” and never say what I look like to anybody, not even the FBI. I told him I really appreciated it, and from now on I would send all my mail overnight express, to help the postal service compete more effectively with FEDEX or UPS. Of course, I was lying, but under the circumstances it was all I could come up with. He was lying too. Soon, I saw an artist’s sketch of a guy that looked a lot like me hanging in my neighborhood Post Office. I was described as armed and dangerous—if you saw me you were supposed to call 911. But the only arms I had were hanging out of my shoulders, and dangerous? I was about as dangerous as an earthworm.
Second—I met my 4th wife Luletta in line at the Post Office. I was there to mail mother’s birthday present. I had gotten my mother an electric potato masher. The box said it could be used to mash vegetables, and also provide “a deep massage.” I have since found out what “deep message” means. Mother never complained. Luletta was holding a fairly large, and poorly taped, and scuffed up, and unwieldy cardboard box. It was wet on one of the bottom corners, and it was dripping almost imperceptibly, and I knew that the postal clerk would refuse it. I had my packing tape in my back pack, so I offered to help. Lulleta and I cut out of line and went over to a corner. We knelt down with our backs to the cue and added tape to her box, to try to seal the leak. Weirdly, it seemed to stop leaking. I asked her what was in the box. She looked around furtively and whispered “Stolen snow globes from Macy’s. I’m sending them to the orphanage where my son lives.” “Wait! You’re alive! How can your son be in an orphanage!” Luletta answered, “I might as well be dead. I ran away from an ICU after I fell out a window. I wanted to disappear. They were too understaffed to look for me, so they declared me dead. Everybody felt sorry for the hospital orderlies, so the coroner colluded, eventually burying a big wad of dirty laundry as me.” Luletta’s package passed muster and we left the Post Office and went to my apartment, and smoked some weed, and decided to get married. She was insane and actually thought she was dead. She spent most of her days lying her back on the couch with her hands crossed over her chest, with somber organ music playing on our CD player. I divorced her as soon as I could.
Third—so, between the wanted poster and memories of Luletta, the Post Office repelled me. I was very patriotic, so I did not want to turn to FEDEX or to UPS to pick up and deliver my packages. So, I decided to wear a disguise when I had to go to the Post Office: big buck teeth, thick black rimmed glasses, and a black Beatles wig. I thought I had it covered. When I wore my disguise to the post office for the first time, the guy in line in front of me started pointing toward the wanted posters and nodding his head. The post office clerk was gesturing and speaking excitedly into his cellphone. Suddenly, one of the other postal clerks appeared outside the door and locked it. I looked at the wanted posters and there was one with a man’s picture on it that looked like he had stolen my disguise! We looked like twins. I was arrested. When I removed my disguise, the Fed realized who I really was. I was tried and convicted of stealing US Mail.
After serving 1 year, I was recently paroled. Even though I’ve served my time, trips to the post office still make me shudder. I have started collecting postage stamps as a way of confronting my fears. Today, I found a Pee Wee Herman stamp. It made me feel better.
Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).
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