Epizeugma (ep-i-zoog’-ma): Placing the verb that holds together the entire sentence (made up of multiple parts that depend upon that verb) either at the very beginning or the very ending of that sentence.

My teakettle squeals. It sounds like somebody stuck a cat’s tail in in it when it hit a rolling boil. It gives me nightmares. But it’s a gift from my sister—my sister from hell. She gives me bad news gifts every Christmas. Last year she gave me one of those Chinese finger puzzles—you know you stick an index finger in each end. If you try to pull out your fingers, it tightens. You get free by pushing your fingers toward each other and then slowly pulling out. Well, the one my sister gave me said “Advanced Capture” on the box. So, I stuck in my fingers thinking it would be like all the other finger puzzles. I couldn’t get free no matter what I did, and worse, there were no instructions on, or in, the box. We Googled it and couldn’t find anything. My sister told me she bought it at a crusty little shop in Chinatown, in New York. So, we piled into the car and headed into the City. It was about a 20 minute drive from where we live in New Jersey. We found the shop. It’s name is “Funny Puzzle Shop” (yǒuqù de pīntú diàn). I didn’t think the puzzle on my fingers was funny—with my hands stuck together I couldn’t even put my coat on, and the puzzle was made of metal—I couldn’t just use a pair scissors to cut it off.

The proprietor came out of the back room. When he saw me he gasped. Then he laughed and said, “Which finger do you want to cut off?” I said “Neither!” He said he was just kidding. “Actually, it will unlock by itself in seven hours. If you had the instructions you would’ve known.” I looked at my sister with all the malice I could muster. “Oh,” she said, “I didn’t think you’d need instructions for a finger puzzle, so I threw them away when I wrapped your gift. Sorry.” There was a letter opener on the counter. For a second, I considered grabbing it and putting a non-fatal hole in her, but I didn’t. I let it ride.

Now, I’ve got the screaming/howling tea kettle to deal with. I have no idea how to mute it, but when I use it my dog rolls around on the floor howling and my cat climbs up on the dining room table, arches his back, bares his teeth and makes a horrible yowling sound I can’t describe. I’m going to have to throw the tea kettle away, or only use it to make tea when my sister comes to visit.

I am already dreading Christmas 2023. I think I’m going to try to talk my sister into donating the money she would’ve spent on my gift to a charity of my choosing. It probably won’t work.

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

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