Synzeugma


Synzeugma (sin-zoog’-ma): That kind of zeugma in which a verb joins (and governs) two phrases by coming between them. A synonym for mesozeugma.


I didn’t know what to do. I was cold, going into the cold, hard night, following nothing, aimless, rootless free of all restraint yet lost like a puppy. I wanted to whine—to sing the song of lost souls, to bang my head on the sidewalk, to tear at my already tattered custom-tailored suit, so lovingly and joyfully purchased in Paris last spring. I wore it to the opening of my play: “One Size Fits All.”

The play was about the invention of Spandex, and the threat it posed to cotton, linen, polyester, silk, and even leather. Tailors, cutters, and fitters would be doomed by a material needing none of the above to be made and sold. It was attractive and could carry any shape, color, or design. People started wearing Spandex “onesies” imprinted with the NYC skyline, their pets, themselves, and anything else that could be custom imprinted—some of it fairly disgusting. Spandex went to war with cotton t-shirts as a canvas for self-absorbed images. It was brutal and unprecedented in the history of fabrics. Cotton fields were poisoned. Spandex, being a polyether-polyurea copolymer, was impossible to easily destroy. It’s manufacturers’ factories in the US became armed garrisons, surrounded by electrified barbed wire fences, trenches filled with acid, and .50 caliber machine guns arrayed along newly constructed ramparts.

Of course, as any idiot could easily see, “One Size Fits All” was totally fictional! It is an allegory of capitalist competition run wild. It was intended as entertaining with a slight didactic edge. But the world we live in is crazy. An anonymous conspiracy theorist, whose screen name is Dr. Bite and who is remarkably influential, claimed on his website, “You Don’t Know, Do you?” that my play was a communist inducement to the Apocalypse—he implicated me as a propagandist and aspiring contributor to the end of the world, claiming that “one size fits all” is a cryptic reference to communist ideology, advocating the death of individualism; the first sign of the Apocalypse. Given the politics of the 21st century, my play was closed. The script was burned in public all over the US, and it’s burning had become the grand finale of torchlight parades. I was stripped of my MFA, and I was forever banned from the Dramatists Guild of America. But I was going to fight back!

Despite being, lost, alone, and depressed, and the Pariah King of New York, I had a handful of faithful friends who were funding my exit of the US and supporting my sojourn in Cuba, where I was to be protected like Salman Rushdie. I was supposed leave in one day.

I looked up from my pitiful reflection in the muddy puddle I was standing in. There was a man standing in front of me in a Spandex suit imprinted with a picture of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Also, he was holding a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. We locked eyes. I was terrified. He smiled and pointed a chicken drumstick at my head. “Here, take it. You must be hungry.” I recognized the voice—it was a guy I went to high school with—we called him Dimmy. He was stupid. He was on the football team, He was always weird. This was a coincidence from hell. I thanked him for he chicken and told him that I had to go and secure my place under the bridge underpass for the night. He said: “No, you’re leaving tonight.” I got an instant rush of total joy. We went to Newark and boarded a chartered jet. When I got off the jet, I knew I wasn’t in Cuba. It looked more like Texas, and I was introduced to Dr. Bite. “You work for me now,” he said with a grim look on his face. I got down on my knees and started banging my head on the tarmac, hoping my head would crack. It didn’t.

I have everything I need here except my freedom. I’m writing another “apocalyptic” play for Dr. Bite. He’s going to have it translated into Arabic and claim he found it in Saudi Arabia on the site of an excavation for a used-car lot in Riyadh. The play’s title is “Oil and Water.” It’s about Arab countries cornering the market on bottled water, charging outrageous prices, and forcing half the world’s population to die of thirst. Who would believe it? Would you believe it?

Hovering everywhere in Dr. Bite’s lair, there is a very old man in a wheelchair who’s clad in a sort of olive-brown suit. He is small and skinny. He said to me one day: ‘You know, son, in political speech, effectiveness is more important than the truth.” I could hardly understand him through his accent. His name was Glubbles or Gobbles or something like that and he had been “rescued and reincarnated” by Dr. Bite so he could continue his “good works.” I thought he was crazy like all of Dr. Bite’s associates. He looked familiar, though, but I couldn’t place him. He had a weird tic. When he would get excited, he would stick his right arm up in the air. Sometimes, even though he was in a wheelchair, he would click his heels together and yell “yah vol.”


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

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