Abbaser [George] Puttenham’s English term for tapinosis. Also equivalent to meiosis: reference to something with a name disproportionately lesser than its nature (a kind of litotes: deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite).
When I was a boy, my father worked as a New Jersey lineman. He climbed telephone poles, which he called “little toothpicks with wires,” and repaired whatever was wrong with the wires and cables. He worked for New Jersey Bell System, driving his truck from Elizabeth to Linden, where he did most of his work. He worked 6 days a week while I stayed with my Aunt Barbara. Mother had died at the shore 3 years before. She drowned when she choked on a jelly donut she had eaten for breakfast along with scrambled eggs. She had just wrapped a towel around my shoulders and ran back into the ocean and started choking, fell down into the water, and died. Me and Dad were lonely.
Dad started taking me to work with him on Saturdays to take some pressure off Aunt Barbara. I would sit in the giant green truck and read comics, color in my coloring book, or play solitaire. Dad taught me solitaire. He said it was a fun game for people who’re all alone. As I was shuffling the cards one day, I saw a dog sitting on the sidewalk outside the truck. It was nodding its head at me! I got out of the truck to pet him and he turned and slowly walked away, looking over his shoulder. I followed him.
We came to an old broken down building. It smelled like cigar smoke. He scratched on the door twice and something scratched back. He gave little yip and the door opened. Inside, there was a group of dogs at a table playing poker. It was just like the picture in Grandpa’s bathroom! And now, the dog could talk. They were a trained troupe of dogs who were rescued by Miss Bruke (an American) after their German master, and her father, Hans was killed in a bombing raid on Bremen at the end of WWII. She had been able to get the dogs into the US by paying off some US Army officers. “She is so lonely,” the dog said. So, we devised a plan to bring Miss Bruke and my father together. As soon as we left the poker game, the dog stopped talking. We got to the truck just as my Dad started climbing down the pole. I told my dad I had found a lost dog, and showed him the dog. He told me I couldn’t keep it, but we should try to find its owner. So, we took off following the dog. We came to a mansion! The dog scratched twice and the door opened to the sound of barking dogs and the face of a kind and beautiful woman. She invited us in, and basically, we never left. I have a baby sister now.
The dog has never spoken again. I’ve never seen the pack playing poker again either. When I say “speak to me,” they all bark. When me and dad first moved in though, I thought I heard the Schnauzer say, “willkommen.”
Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.
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