Adynaton (a-dyn’-a-ton): A declaration of impossibility, usually in terms of an exaggerated comparison. Sometimes, the expression of the impossibility of expression.

I can’t tell you what I feel right now, Filling my mouth with those words is like trying to juggle water. It can’t be done: I can’t pour out my soul. I would choke on it. But anyway, I don’t know how to do it. In fact, I don’t think it can be done. I don’t even know where my soul is located. I tend to think it is somewhere in my chest—maybe in my heart. People do talk about pouring their hearts out. I think what usually follows is an oral ‘outpouring’ of something that matters to them and the target of their outpouring. Now that I think of it, I think I may actually have poured my heart out once.

It was Christmas, 1957. My mother took us to Santa’s Workshop. It was a little—more like a shed—erected on the town green. Santa sat in the shed waiting for children to come in and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. The kid in front of me in line wanted a BB Gun. He was a real doof, with his glasses held together with adhesive tape and a stupid red sweater with reindeer on it. When it was my turn, I think I poured my heart out. I told Santa how much I loved Miss Pennywink, my 5th grade teacher and how I wanted her for Christmas. Santa said “Pennywink? Ho Ho Ho! She’s my girlfriend little boy. We go for rides down by the river in my car and sometimes camp overnight at the Swan Dive Motel. We are getting married in two months.”

I was outraged. I pulled out my battery-powered Buck Rogers ray gun. I turned it on and pulled the trigger, The siren went off and it flashed red and green at the end of the barrel. I turned it up all the way to “Fry” and started beating Santa in the face with it as hard as I could. People screamed and ran from Santa’s shed. By the time the police showed up, Santa was unconscious on the floor. He had a bloody nose and his head was starting swell.

I was charged as a youthful offender with attempted murder. My case never went to trial. Charges were dismissed because it was decided that Santa provoked me. Also, my dad was Fire Chief. He threatened to “hose Santa off the face of the earth” if he didn’t drop the charges.

It is hard talking about the Santa episode. After all these years, I remember the pain Santa inflicted. Beating him half to death was nothing compared to it. I saw him at the mall every Christmas until he died 15 years ago. He never had his front tooth replaced and had a scar across his forehead. But I am scarred too. I can’t pour my heart out. I have been a prisoner of reticence for 70 years. Luckily, my undisclosed innermost thoughts and feelings are intangible, or I would explode like an overfilled balloon.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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