Erotema (e-ro-tem’-a): The rhetorical question. To affirm or deny a point strongly by asking it as a question. Generally, as Melanchthon has noted, the rhetorical question includes an emotional dimension, expressing wonder, indignation, sarcasm, etc.

I made this fly swatter sculpture entirely out of matchsticks and Elmer’s glue. Isn’t it lovely? It’s lines are sleek and there are only a few glue drippings hardened on the handle. Don’t they look like decorative jewels? Like intentional dribblets of decorative domed opalescence? Along with my other matchstick artifacts, the fly swatter is already accruing value. Two weeks ago, a collector offered me $5.00 for my matchstick shoe (size 8). Isn’t that something? The shoe was modeled after the one worn by the muffin man who lived on Drury Lane in London, England. Although nobody knows what the shoe looked like, I speculated that it would have dough stains and would’ve been well-worn from door to door muffin sales. The buyer changed his mind in the last minute because I had made only one shoe. I offered to throw in my matchstick BB and lower the price to 4.95. My counter offer didn’t fly. But, he bought the Matchstick BB for 1.25!

Now, I’m working on a full-size ride mower on commission from the local hardware store. I am being paid 99.00–beyond my wildest dreams. It is modeled after my own mower—an antique Peterbuilt. They only make trucks now, but they got their start in mowers. It will probably take at least 15,000 matchsticks to build the mower. It could take a year to complete it.

Did I mention? Matchsticks are a real fire hazard. Foolishly, I had made a matchstick ashtray as a joke. I’m a traditionalist—I don’t clip the tips off of my matchsticks. Can you tell where we’re headed here? Last night, we had a little accident. My cousin Jimmy was visiting. He smokes. He put his cigarette out in the matchstick ashtray. My house burned to the ground. Everything went up in smoke. My matchstick creations fueled the fire. Also, the 15 cases of wooden matches in the basement moved things along very quickly. My house burned down in twenty minutes, a record the Fire Chief told me. It was the saddest day of my life, especially since I lost my matchstick bust of Elvis. I made Elvis with loving care—if you saw the bust on the street, you’d think it was Elvis reincarnated and fall down crying. But, now he’s gone—ashes somewhere in the pile of charred wood that used to be my home.

Now, I’m thinking of building a matchstick house with the insurance money from the fire. I will definitely clip the tips of the matches I use to make the house and all my future creations.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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