Apothegm (a’-po-th-e-gem): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, gnome, maxim, paroemia, proverb, and sententia.

“If you can’t stand the heat, sit down.” This is one of those enigmatic sayings you’re supposed to figure out on your way to enlightenment. It is so humorous to see people eating vegetable, getting rid of their shoes and wearing exotic clothes discussing this and other sayings with their doped up friends, saying “Wow” over and over while they speculate on the sayings’ meanings. They are like crackpot kindergarteners, sitting in a circle on the playground, practicing their animal sounds. Oink. Moo. Baa.

This morning I heard this one: “When your soup is cold, heat it.” They tried to figure out what they thought were the saying’s metaphors by focusing first on “soup,” the saying’s key term. Instead of taking it literally, with their brains fogged with THC, they had to go down the road of free range speculation as if did not really matter if they derived meaning from the saying at all. It was like the communal querying was an end in itself, where generating a quantity of meanings was more important than generating “the” meaning.

I confirmed this with the group’s leader Elvis Mandela. He told me: “The storming of the brain is like the storming of the sky. Trying to make sense that satisfies most people but collectively bruises the brain like a blow to a banana. We want a disparate jumble of non-synonymous, non-commensurate, clashing, yet peacefully offered meanings that get to our uniqueness as human life-forms, oops, I meant to say “human beings.”

I noticed there was a poorly concealed zipper on Elvis Mandela’s forehead. I reached for it and was able ti zip it down to his upper lip before he squirmed away and stood up. “Fool!” he yelled. “Now, The Dogs Will Eat Their Plastic Bones.” I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. His follows were coming toward him. They were gnawing on plastic bones and moaning in unison. At this point, I yelled as loud as I could, “Cut the shit!” They immediately dropped bones. The started chanting, “Elvis Mandela is a fraud. He hides behind a zipper.” I looked at his unzipped face again—it was Mow Carlisle, the boy who had gone missing 10 years ago when he was delivering papers on his paper route. I asked Mow what had happened. He said he found the rubber suit in a trashcan and put it on. Wearing it, he felt safe. It stretched with him over the years as he grew. From his paper route he learned to respect cryptic headlines as inducements to read what was below. So, he started making cryptic sayings and yelling them to people as they passed by. Soon a crowd gathered and he herded them to the park, where his theory of heterogenous interpretationism was born.

I zipped Elvis’ face back up and his followers started peacefully returning. As I walked away I thought to myself, “The bird is the word.”

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

An edited version of The Daily Trope is for sale on Amazon under the title the Book of Tropes.

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