Scesis Onomaton (ske’-sis-o-no’-ma-ton): 1. A sentence constructed only of nouns and adjectives (typically in a regular pattern). 2. A series of successive, synonymous expressions.
“There was only so much I could do.” Gross failure. Losing again. My favorite excuse relieved me from responsibility. It made it sound like I tried, but whatever it was, was beyond my limits. Then, I would become an object of pity instead of scorn. I got so good at it, no matter how trivial a given failure event was, “there was only so much I could do” got me off the hook every time.
It all began when I fell out of my car in my driveway followed by an empty clanking vodka bottle.
I had hit my mailbox pulling into my driveway, drunk on my ass. A police car pulled up. An officer rolled down his window and asked me if I was ok. Out of habit I said “There was only so much I could do.” He said, “Ok. Take care.” and drove away. I woke up in my driveway the next morning with wet pants and a headache. My head had slammed into the concrete. My ears were ringing and my vision was blurred. There was my car, sideways with the mailbox under the front wheel. I couldn’t believe the cops had bought my excuse. It was basically unbelievable. What had happened? Was it an anomaly, a one-off, a stroke of amazing luck?
After the driveway episode, I had a theory. I went to the mall. I went to the cookware store “Cook It” and picked up a $200.00 saucepan, held it over my head and walked toward the exit saying “There was only so much I could do” over my shoulder. As the alarm went off, the clerk smiled and made a waving gesture, like she was pushing me out the exit. The security guard tipped his hat and said “Have a nice day sir.” “Indeed!” I thought as I headed to “Blingo’s Jewelry Store.” I was looking at a tray of diamond rings—in the $10,000-$12,000 range. I scooped up a handful and said “There was only so much I could do.” The clerk nodded her head and said “I understand sir. I hope you have no trouble fencing them.”
I understood now, that for some reason my excuse applied to anything untoward I wanted to do. It enabled my “victims“ to accommodate my wrongdoing and smooth it over with deference to my feelings. It was like having a desire license and it was open season on whatever I wanted.
Next stop, politics. I had run for mayor several times but was always defeated. There was an election for mayor coming. If I played it right, I couldn’t lose. But how could I reach everybody with my spellbinding excuse? I had learned early that I had to say it for it to work. Brochures, billboards, or campaign buttons wouldn’t cut it. So, I rented a truck with four giant loudspeakers on it and drove it up and down every street in town at least five times blaring my eloquent excuse, followed by “Vote for me, Carl Prontor.”
I was sitting at home watching the returns on TV. I was losing—losing by a lot. Then, there was a flash of light in the hall closet like a bulb blowing out. A squeaky voice said “Our experiment is over.” That was it. I wanted to cry as I watched the election slip away. I opened the closet and nothing was there. I was losing my mind. Everything was collapsing. I had no idea what to do. I went to my campaign headquarters to give my concession speech. I began by saying, “There was only so much I could do.” Somebody threw a folding chair at me. Another person yelled “if that was all you could do, no wonder you lost, shithead.” It went on like that for 20 minutes. I left.
Experiment? It must’ve been a failure, given how it ended up: my life more or less destroyed. I suspect the experiment was conducted by space aliens, and that’s my new excuse: “I’m sorry, but it was the space aliens.” It’s not too successful at building bridges after I’ve burned them, but presently it’s all I’ve got, although the voice in my closet actually sounded a lot like my therapist. I’ve come to realize that some things are meant to remain mysteries, like the past five years of my life.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).
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