Anacoluthon (an-a-co-lu’-thon): A grammatical interruption or lack of implied sequence within a sentence. That is, beginning a sentence in a way that implies a certain logical resolution, but concluding it differently than the grammar leads one to expect. Anacoluthon can be either a grammatical fault or a stylistic virtue, depending on its use. In either case, it is an interruption or a verbal lack of symmetry. Anacoluthon is characteristic of spoken language or interior thought, and thus suggests those domains when it occurs in writing.
I was trying to—sand dollars! They were worthless. Could I develop a sandbox corps? Seashells everywhere. Flotsam too. A barnacle encrusted piano. A rusted wheelbarrow missing it’s wheel. A plastic bust of Abraham Lincoln. A deflated Happy Birthday balloon. A tennis net. A tennis ball that I did not want to name or develop a creepy relationship with.
I was hang gliding off a cliff in Hawaii when I got picked up by a cyclone and blasted away from land. The wind had stranded me on a small island somewhere in the South Pacific. I was getting along, eating coconuts and raw land crabs. I was lucky to be alive.
I was afraid to wade into the ocean, even at low tide. There were sharks swirling around. When I stood on the shore, they tried to coax me into the water. They made promises I knew they couldn’t keep. Like, “Hop on my back, I’ll give you a ride to Tahiti.” Or, “I just got off the phone with you sister, she wants you to come home immediately. Just wade into the water here and I’ll call you an Uber-boat to take you home. Your sister is quite worried. Please, let me help you.” It was all bullshit. There’s no way I would trust a shark, even though he tried to mimic my North Carolina accent. Very clever. Very devious. Very ruthless. I knew my sister would never call sharks—they were like telemarketers. She was smarter than that. She worked running the bowling ball cleaner at Brightly Lit Alleys in our home town. Bowling ball cleaners are complicated. You start it running, drop in the ball, press the clean button. The machine automatically goes to dry when it is finished washing. When the dry cycle is complete, you pull out the bowling ball (which takes a degree of strength), and polish the bowling ball with the “special” rag made from a carefully torn up bath towel from Salvation Army Thrift Store. My sister had a pretty good set of biceps on her from liftin’ all those balls. She even got to where she could juggle two balls. Her arms were like tractor pistons. And, like I said, she was too smart to be taken in by a shark, who would surely try to lure her to its dinner table as the main course.
Anyway, my sandbox was way bigger than it needed to be. But, there was a lot of sand, and I figured it belonged to me. Then I realized it was too big to qualify as a “box.” So, I just filled the useless wheelbarrow with sand, scooping up the sand with my hands. Once I filled it, I didn’t know what to do with it. So, I sat in it and pretended I was a cat in a litter box. I was meowing joyfully when I was answered back. There was a cat sitting at the jungle’s edge. He said: “I’ve been watching you and you’re a total dipshit. Those sharks won’t eat you. Use that old “tennis net to catch some sardines, and make sure to share with me.”
It worked! Fresh sardine sushi is quite delicious. I named the cat Friday and we had a great time. He helped me build a shelter out of palm fronds and the remains of my hang glider. He also showed me how to start a fire with friction. Then, he disappeared one morning and never came back. The next day I was rescued by a fishing boat named Friday—was it just a coincidence?
I spent two years on that island. People tell me I must’ve been delirious talking to sharks and a cat. I probably was. But, I think my delirium was functional. It saved my life. At least, I think it did. But really, I think it was Friday’s chiding—making me get off my ass and take care of myself.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)
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