Metaplasm (met’-a-plazm): A general term for orthographical figures (changes to the spelling of words). This includes alteration of the letters or syllables in single words, including additions, omissions, inversions, and substitutions. Such changes are considered conscious choices made by the artist or orator for the sake of eloquence or meter, in contrast to the same kinds of changes done accidentally and discussed by grammarians as vices (see barbarism). See: antisthecon, aphaeresis, apocope, epenthesis, paragoge, synaloepha.
Things have gone baaad, baaad, baaad. My sheep are in open rebellion. I imagined they were saying, “We herd too much. It isn’t healthy. We all have the same cough and we’re turning yellow.” They were right about the coughing! 645 coughing sheep couldn’t be ignored. It was a loud rasping cough that sounded like 100 giant trapped hamsters scratching from behind a plaster wall, trying to get out. And, they had turned a shade of very light yellow.
Aside from their wool, lamb stew, and lamb chops, the best thing about sheep is their docile herding instinct. They go everywhere shoulder-to-shoulder. My prize-winning sheep dogs move them around the fields in a wooly lump. If anybody breaks ranks, a sheep dog will break ranks too, running down, and herding the renegade back into the flock. But now they were sick, coughing, changing colors.
I had to call the only vet within 300 miles. His name is Dr. Schmoz, His family had first emigrated to the United States from Canada near the end of the 19th century. Dr. Schmoz had graduated from “Fur, Fins, Feet, Feathers, Shells, and Scales School of Taxidermy and Veterinary Medicine LLC,” registered in Delaware. Dr. Schmoz has two specialties: 1. Turtle Repair, 2. Sheep Counseling. He used SuperGlue to repair cracked turtles that were dropped or run over. Of course, many of the turtles were considered road kill. In those cases he needed nearly surgical skills to glue them back together, to take their places under glass domes on the fireplace mantles of their owners. Sometimes he would pose them with dice or a poker hand between their claws.
Given the reach of his “Vet Domain,” Dr. Schmoz had a helicopter. As he landed in front of my house, I caught a glimpse of the full-sized picture of Snoopy on the side, in his WW1 fighter pilot garb. Dr. Schmoz jumped out of his helicopter with a bullhorn in his hand. He turned toward the flock and yelled into bullhorn: “Disperse!” It didn’t work. He said: “Obviously, they can’t be counseled. Why? As I was flying in, I noticed your sheep have Golden Fleece Flu. It starts with coughing, then, unbridled belligerence, then the fleece turns light yellow, and then, boom, all the sheep die. You have so many sheep, I could hear coughing from 500 feet up, and they looked angry too. Their wool is starting to take on a yellow tinge, as well. Luckily, I have a medicated spray mist I am developing that will motivate your sheep to unflock and, thereby, be cured of the flu. I’ll spray it from my helicopter.” I agreed.
After one pass, things started to change. Instead of dispersing, the sheep packed closer together and faced me and the dogs. On the second pass, the coughing stopped and the dogs ran away. On the third pass they turned light yellow and started racing toward me. I caught a glimpse of Dr. Schmoz as he flew past. He was wearing a helmet with ram horns glued to it. He swooped down and pushed back the flock, which was no longer yellow. The sheep were going their separate ways. The dogs returned. Dr. Schmoz’s spraying had cured the sheep. I asked Dr. Schmoz what his secret was. He said, “A degree from a questionable vet school, a good lawyer, and wealthy parents. Their money pays for my legal fees, and the random chemicals I mix together in my basement, looking for cures for animal ailments. We were really lucky with your sheep. My last remedy caught on fire and boiled all the fish residing in a fish tank outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I expect to be indicted.
Despite his apparent insanity, I thanked Dr. Schmoz and paid him, and he helicoptered off to his next adventure: the development of a weight-loss program for a middle-aged female manatee.
After all that had happened, I was looking forward to a quiet dinner. As I crumbled my saltines into my lamb stew and eyed the small pile of lamb chops on the table, a loud banging on the front door began. I got up and opened the door and there was a huge ram staring me down. I slammed the door shut. The sheep had breached the perimeter fence and had surrounded my house. I was trapped! I called 911 and told them I was surrounded by 645 angry sheep. I heard laughter and the phone went dead. I picked up Dr. Schmoz’s bullhorn, which he had left lying on the couch, but I didn’t know what to say. So, I put down the bullhorn and waited to die, certain I would be smothered by the pressure of the wooly bodies of the angry flock, sandwiching me between them.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).
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