Hypallage


Hypallage (hy-pal’-la-ge): Shifting the application of words. Mixing the order of which words should correspond with which others. Also, sometimes, a synonym for metonymy (see Quintilian).


The roof was pitched almost straight down. Sent, I was, by my family to put up Christmas decorations for the upcoming holiday. It was November 15th. Early, to say the least, for a holiday arriving on December 25th. Every year, I do this under protest. At least there’s no snow yet, but it is very cold. At least I won’t be sliding to my death, just freezing my ass off. Once again, I have two bushel baskets of lights that I duct tape to the chimney so I can string them as I pull and they come uncoiled from the baskets. I must say, the baskets were a brilliant idea, in fact, I was thinking of contracting somebody to manufacture the baskets and sell them full of lights. But now, it was time to hang the lights. Ten years ago, I had put screws into the house’s gutters to hang the lights from,

Up the ladder I go with one basket and the roll of duct tape. I crawl up the roof dragging the basket. I tape it to the chimney. I scootch back down the roof to the ladder, climb down it, grab the second basket of lights and climb back up. I crawl up the roof and start to tape the basket to the chimney. Somehow, my cat has managed to get up onto the roof. There’s a tree branch that hangs over the roof. He probably climbed the tree and jumped off the branch onto the roof. He wanted to play. He kept batting at the tape and trying to pull it away from my hand. He managed, somehow, to do it. The tape rolled down the roof and lodged in the gutter. Now, I had to crawl down to retrieve it. I leaned the basket on the chimney and started down. The cat jumped in the basket and started biting the lights and shaking his head. Grabbing the whole string of lights, he jumped out of the basket, and dragged the lights across the eave of the house. The basket came free and rolled down the roof. It came directly at me. It hit me in the butt and knocked me off the roof. I landed on the huge inflatable Santa I had installed earlier. I bounced off, and hit the ground hard, I was knocked unconscious, but at least, due to Santa, I wasn’t dead.

In my unconsciousness, I had a vision of me murdering the cat. We were in ancient Egypt, where cats were venerated. I was going to take the cat out behind a pyramid and bury him up to his neck in sand and let nature take its course. The cat was bound in Christmas lights. I didn’t have a shovel, so I was digging with my hands. My cat said, “Come on, it was an accident man. It was like my cat nature cut loose. If you hadn’t left that limb over the roof, it never would’ve happened.” “Oh, typical cat bullshit. Go ahead, blame it on me,” I said. Just then the Pharaoh came around the corner to take a leak behind the pyramid. “What’s this?” he asked when he saw the cat. I told him the cat had tried to murder me. When he finished peeing he said, “Let him go. He was just being a cat.” Then I woke up.

I could hear the air hissing out of Santa. The cat was sitting on my chest doing his clawing-kneading thing. As usual, it hurt. I said “Ow,” but I didn’t push him away. I was going to saw the limb off the tree tomorrow and finish stringing the Christmas lights.

Santa had saved my life. I was grateful. My cat was a different story.

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

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