Tag Archives: elocutio


Dilemma (di-lem’-ma): Offering to an opponent a choice between two (equally unfavorable) alternatives.

Boss: Making choices is what we’re all about. I say yes. You say no. I say maybe. You say certainly. I say, you better agree with me or I’ll kick your ass. You say, you and who else. Look, you can have your ass kicked, or find a job somewhere else. Look at me—i work out every day from 7:00-11.00. My biceps are bigger than your thighs. Your arms are like broom sticks with hinges. Mine are like tree stumps with fingers. I will pound you into the ground like a tent stake and use your head as a swivel stool. You better just run away to your mommy baby boy and hide behind that stupid baggy dress she wears all the time. There she is over there, coming our way, waving her cast iron skillet. She should be in the kitchen with that thing. She is too stupid for words.

Worker: I’m gonna fight for my job, Cold-hearted Boss. You know damn well there aren’t any jobs within a thousand miles of this place. Even though I work here, I’d rather work somewhere else—making mop handles 12 hours per day 7 days a week makes me want to puke, but it is a job. The income is meager, barely enough for my family to afford one meal per day, and a bad meal at that: a bowl of cabbage soup and a crust of bread. My children are all bowlegged and my wife is saggy and cranky all the time. Our younger son, Milo, fell off the back of a wagon and was run over and killed by Lord Helmsly’s speeding carriage—he was late for his weekly poker game. He blamed my little boy..

I learned Karate when I was in the Queen’s service stationed in Japan. It is deadly. Most likely, I will kill you with two or three blows. Or, my mother will whack you with her cast iron frying pan, leaving you with a cracked skull and dimwits. Step over here to this level ground and we shall commence our fighting.

The fight: Boss started toward the level spot to fight his worker. The worker’s mother jumped out from behind a tree, whacking Boss on the side of his head, cracking his skull and turning him into a drooling idiot. Boss became the mop handle factory mascot and would grovel for bits of candy carried by the workers in their pockets.Worker kept his job. His mother was sentenced to one month in jail for “over aggressive self defense.”

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

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Enigma (e-nig’-ma): Obscuring one’s meaning by presenting it within a riddle or by means of metaphors that purposefully challenge the reader or hearer to understand.

I’m tall when I’m young and short when I’m old. What am I? I don’t know. I lost my book Why Riddles: Wrestling With Obscurity. I think I left it under my pillow. It’s the only place I haven’t looked. I’m sure I’ll find it when I go to bed tonight. If I do, I’ll text you the answer to the tall-short riddle. It might be like the “How many toes does a crayon have?” riddle. My quick answer is “none,” but that thwarts the riddle and displays an immature drive to kill that particular riddle. It thwarts the spirit of the riddle that has carried people beyond the vagaries of literalism, to the hallowed heights of metaphors, and similes and puns for millennia.

When I was in the Army, I knew a guy who worked in the message vault. He carried a .45 and picked up and delivered messages in his own Jeep. When he was working spoke only in puns or obscure pronouncements. I though he had gone crazy spending his time in the message vault when he wasn’t picking up or delivering messages. The vault was like a big bank vault with stacks of messages scattered around. I asked what he did with the stacked, undelivered, messages. He said: “The flight of the bluebird is aimless.” I could sort of understand him—maybe the bluebirds were the messages, flight was delivery. But aimless was pretty much beyond me—maybe it meant that the addressee was unknown, so they couldn’t be delivered. I asked him if I got it right and he said: “You are taking a tour without a compass.” Well, that was clear—I was not right and I was headed in the wrong direction. I asked him if I was right about being wrong. He said: “Apples and tomatoes can be red or yellow.”

My visit with my buddy was going south. I was headed down a dead end street. I was dancing in the dark. I was on a treadmill. I was running on a Hamster wheel. I’d been dealt an empty hand. The chain was off my bike. My shoe laces were tied together. My brain was in neutral.

I was frustrated, but he was my buddy, and I could still remember him before he was put in the vault. Maybe his purposeful obscurity was part of his training to keep from inadvertently disclosing top secret message content. Anyway, I visited him after the war. He was living in the psychiatric ward of his local VA hospital. They didn’t know what to do with him, so they kept him. He wasn’t dangerous, but he made people angry with his crooked talk. I sort of knew how he felt. My head was full of secrets too, but I didn’t care. I would blurt them out. As a consequence, a lot of people were afraid of me. Secrets are secrets for a reason.

I’m going off course. My GPS is smoking. My roadmap is blank. I am lost in space. My bulldozer is stalled. I am drowning in memories. But, I’m ok. When I think of Cinderella I am calmed. When I think of Porterhouse steak, I develop an appetite. When I think of dreams, I want to go to bed. When I write, I’m quite clear. When I talk, not so much. When I sing, I am an angel spreading light.

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

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Enthymeme (en’-thy-meem): 1. The informal method [or figure] of reasoning typical of rhetorical discourse. The enthymeme is sometimes defined as a “truncated syllogism” since either the major or minor premise found in that more formal method of reasoning is left implied. The enthymeme typically occurs as a conclusion coupled with a reason. When several enthymemes are linked together, this becomes sorites. 2. A figure of speech which bases a conclusion on the truth of its contrary. [Depending on its grammatical structure and specific word choice, it may be chiasmus].

Me: It is 115 degrees outside. You better wear shorts to work, along with a T-shirt. The blue T-Rex t-shirt would be perfect! Given this climate stuff, we’re going the way of the dinosaurs, pretty soon we’ll all be crude oil or tar balls jostling together in a bubbling pit. If we lose our electricity, we’ll die. They’ll find you clutching a beer on the couch, shriveled up like a piece of dried fruit, like a fig with ants crawling all over you. And, oh, nobody will find you because they’ll be shriveled up on their couches too. Yup, it is the end of the world. We’re headed for extinction, Maybe before the end of the summer.

You: I can hardly be in the same room with you. You never stop. When we were kids it was the atom bomb. You refused to get under your desk during the school drills that were supposed to save us from the bomb. You would sit there saying “If the bomb comes here, the school will be leveled. If we survive that, we will all be turned to ashes cowering under our chairs.” Everybody started crying and tried to get out the door at once. There were injuries and our teacher, Miss Roper, was demoted to classroom aide.

Your hysterical harangues were dangerous back in the sixth grade, and now even more so, given the ubiquitous bullshit flying around—pushed by fake scientists so they can make money while scaring the holy hell out of average Americans and their children, like Joan and Bill’s who, by the grace of God go to a private school where climate change crap is not permitted to be taught, along with other evil brain poisoning ideas like Critical Race Theory. I don’t know what Critical Race Theory is, but it must be bad if it’s banned from “Himmerler Middle School” where my neighbor’s kids go. They’re not going to be fooled by the communists aiming to destroy America by destroying American values. So, why don’t you just can it and go on with your life, such as it is, filled fear and unfounded predictions. Go home and put some clothes on. Tightly-whiteys and sandals are so wrong, no matter how hot it is.

Me: it’s nice to see you’re running with the Lemmings toward the cliffs of denial. Does it feel good to be a part of the pack? All together. Eye to eye. Perfect harmony until death do you part. It is supposed to be 130 degrees tomorrow! I’m headed north to buy myself some time. If I’m going to die, at least I’ll be in a beautiful place. I mean, the sidewalks are starting to crack here in Manhattan and the streets are buckling. I can’t take a shower and I’m pooping in plastic bags and dropping them off behind trees and bushes in Central Park.

Uh oh. Hear that? It’s quiet. The electricity has gone out. No A/C. 130 degrees tomorrow. Let the looting begin! Let the home invasions begin! Let the City burn. Let the “normal” people who’ve ignored the climate change warnings for the past 20 years die without dignity in the coming conflagration. They willfully ignored the hard truth, opting for the soft comfort of lies because the lies aligned with their hopes and stilled their fears.

Goodbye. I’m headed to Alaska. I’m wearing my tighty whiteys. I hope my old VW Bug makes it. I’ll never forget driving it to Woodstock with you and Beth. Do you want to come with me now?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Epitasis (e-pit’-a-sis): The addition of a concluding sentence that merely emphasizes what has already been stated. A kind of amplification. [The opposite of anesis.]

I was on my way to Barty’s Ark, the wildest bar in the Tri-state area. That’s saying something—New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Three states populated by crazy people. There’s a shooting every night at Barty’s and a couple of pole dancer kidnappings. These guys think that because these girls are totally naked they can take them. It’s biker gangs that do the kidnapping, especially the “Swamp Trompers” from Green Village, NJ, “Satan’s Dancers” from New York, NY and the “Conventions” from Philadelphia, PA. The girls are never harmed. They aren’t mistreated in any way. They come back to Barty’s wearing expensive designer clothes. I guess, what you should call what the gangs do “recreational abduction.” It gets Barty mad to be down at least three dancers every night. But what can he do? Especially since he’s not interested in losing his business, and committing “suicide.”

I have been hired by the “Tri-State Commission for the Study of Corruption, Crime, and Catastrophes.” I’ve been hanging out at “Barty’s” for two months running my undercover operation. I’m under cover as a 65-year-old lech. It’s easy for me to affect this identity because I am a 65-year-old lech. I didn’t want this assignment to ever end. Sitting on my spinning stool night after night, watching the nude dancers and befriending violent psychopaths, was nearly my idea of the perfect assignment. If only the bikers would go away. But they wouldn’t.

I grew my hair long and pulled it into a ponytail. I got a couple of fake tattoos. On my left shoulder I had Freddie Kruger with his hand-blades dripping blood. On my right shoulder I had a fake tattoo saying “1/6.” The tattoo is captioned “Let Freedom Ring.” My tattoos create a strong positive impression when I show them to the bikers. When they ask me what I do, I tell them I’m a mercenary & I’m home for a few weeks resting up before I go back to Ukraine. Works like a charm! I carry three concealed pistols: 1. One Glock on the shoulder, 2. Two Astra Cubs (one on each ankle). I also carry a 9” OTF switchblade, a box cutter, a blackjack, knuckles and an edge-sharpened credit card—buy you dinner? Slit your throat? Also, I had a load of cash—$200,000. It was almost to heavy to carry.

I won’t need any of this stuff—it’s a quiet assignment. Well, maybe I’ll need the money. A thirty-year-old dancer named “Spotify” has fallen in love with me. I told her I’m 45 and I love her too. I don’t know what I’m going to do with her. We haven’t been intimate yet. We’re waiting until we leave and start a life together. I haven’t seen my wife in 30 years. A divorce should be easy.

So, my assignment ended. Spotify and I took off in my Maserati for Morristown, NJ where her mother lives. She says she has to pick up some clothing and “belongings,” and say “Hi and Bye to her Mom. So, we finally get there. I have to pee really bad, so I run in the door fervently asking where the bathroom is. As I’m running past Spotify’s Mom, I realize that she’s my wife from 30 years ago, that Spotify’s my daughter, and that this is really insane. So, I peed, ran back out of the house, jumped in my Maserati, and drove away as fast as I could. “Just think?” I thought in terror as I hit 110 MPH. “Shit!” was all I could say.

I’ve started a new assignment. We’re looking at the son of a high profile, wealthy, public figure. It is alleged that he has a vast and illicit network of nefarious dealers in black market pink ballet slippers. That’s all I can say there. The second, tandem case, involves lumberjacks. They’ve been doing unfathomable and uncalled for things with their wood chips. I can’t talk any further about this.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Exergasia (ex-er-ga’-si-a): Repetition of the same idea, changing either its words, its delivery, or the general treatment it is given. A method for amplification, variation, and explanation. As such, exergasia compares to the progymnasmata exercises (rudimentary exercises intended to prepare students of rhetoric for the creation and performance of complete practice orations).

Time to go Christmas shopping! It’s always fun buying Christmas gifts for people you love, and more or less tolerable for people you could give a damn less about, like the mail carrier, my cousin Lavern, or my friend from high school who works at MacDonald’s—a total loser, but I don’t want him spitting on my burger patty. It is a real challenge choosing gifts for people you think you’re obliged to buy gifts for—that you are coerced in some social way to give gifts to—that there are unpleasant consequences involved in not giving gifts to. It involves some kind of extortion, mainly because you get nothing in return except US mail, an appeased cousin and a spit free burger at MacDonalds. Merry Christmas.

So, I went on line. First, I Googled “gifts for US Mail carriers.” Google told me it was illegal to give gifts to federal employees. So, I tried Canadian mail carriers. Boom! Jackpot! There it was: a collapsible snow shovel! But wait, bear spray! I bought my mail carrier two cans of “Crying Ursine Bear Spray.” I’ll wrap them and put them in my mailbox on Christmas Eve. I think that might be illegal, but I don’t care. Next, I Googled “gifts for looser cousin who swears a lot.” 100s of hits came up, but one caught my attention. It was a kit for making signs to use to beg for money on the street. It comes with fifty clever messages and 100 more are available for a “low cost” on their internet site. One of my favorites was “GIMME 5 DOLLARS.” It is straightforward. I didn’t get this one: “Homeless! Need Credit Card!” Anyway, my gift may help lift Lavern out of her ditch. If I gave her no gift, she would throw rocks at my house again on New Year Day. She’s a tough customer. Then there was Giles. He’s been working at MacDonals ever since he graduated from high school in 2015. We were friends in high school, but we’ve drifted apart since I’ve made something of myself and he hasn’t, and for some reason he blames his failed life on me. Maybe it was the college scholarship we competed for. I won it, but didn’t really need it. As a consequence of losing, he couldn’t afford to go to college, and in his mind, it was my fault. So, I Googled “What gift do you give a man in a dead end job who blames you for being there?” I got fewer hits than the other two searches, but there was one that stuck out: Very expensive tile cleaner that Giles could use on his day to clean the rest rooms at MacDonalds. The tile cleaner comes with a special “absorbent” washable rag that “helps fights streaking.” By using Shinhonian, he may get a promotion or pay raise for extra good work, and, I’ll be relieved of worry about eating spitty burgers.

So, I finished shopping for my challenging gift recipients in 20 minutes. I hope the gifts get me off the hook again for another year. Now, it is time to shop for people I pretty much care about. First up, my girlfriend. Asking Goggle: “What gift do you get for somebody you are stuck with because of promises you made, her violent brother, and her allergies that require you to rub her back with terrible-smelling medicated cream twice a day?” Google referred me to Duck Duck Go for answers to my query. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what I bought for her, but I can give you a hint: Hisssss.

Merry Christmas!

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

Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99. A Kindle edition is also available for $5.99.


Hendiadys (hen-di’-a-dis): Expressing a single idea by two nouns [joined by a conjunction] instead of a noun and its qualifier. A method of amplification that adds force.

Night and day. Day and night. Which came first? I don’t care. Or, put another way, what difference does it make? That’s the trouble with numbers. You can count with them, and that’s it. 1, 2, 3 blah blah. And now, with computers, everything can quantified, from the bullet hole in your arm, to the hat on your head. 1, 2, 3, blah blah. Counting can be a waste of time—if you have a bunch of beans to count, why not save some time and decide that you have “many” beans? You don’t count your problems, do you? Instead, you have “a lot” of problems.

Counting everything can lead to greed and excessive worry. You look at your bank account. It has a lot of money in it. The bank counts it and gives you statement reporting with a number the amount of money you have. You see that big number and you want a bigger number Now, you have entered the greedy zone. You have to have more, more, more. You start a real estate scam, you lie to the IRS, you lie to everybody so you can have more, more, more. Now you are all alone. Due to your constant lying, nobody knows who you are any more. You won’t even share your French fries at MacDonalds any more. You are alienated, alone, miserable, all because counting your money made you want more, more, more when you didn’t need it.

And then, there’s the anxiety. You look at your bank account and it says: “Balance, $63.00.” Your rent is due next week. You’re out food. You haven’t paid the utility bill. Your car payment is due tomorrow. Your student loan payment is due in two days, as is your credit card bill. Your phone bill is due today. You get paid $400.00 per week. It is barely enough to pay your bills, let alone, have a life. The crack you expect to fall through gets bigger every day.

Your job is no help. You can’t evade numbers there. You work for “Prestige Pies” making custom pies for the wealthiest people in the world. Some of the pies are named after their noteworthy accomplishments. There’s “The President,” “The FoxNews,” “The Tesla,” etc. At “Prestige Pie’s,” you’re paid by the piece: you get paid in accord with the number of pies you complete on your shift. Your philosophy degree is no good here—here, it’s make the dough fly or you’re fired.

When I talk about myself, it may be in measurable characteristics—shoe size, waist size, weight, head size, etc. We all know this goes nowhere when trying to give another person the means of getting to know you. “You” is a difficult concept to grasp, but it is best done without numbers. You are not your shoe size. You are unique and immeasurable. I learned this in college. When I realized I was not my stuff, it changed my life. I am immeasurable—that means you can’t quantify my being. I am unique, maybe my body is too.

So anyway, when Lawrence Welk used to say “A one, and a two, and a three” and the bubbles started to float from the bubble machine, and the polka music music started to play, it was magical. My sister and I would dance around our tiny living room. My father would yell, “Sit down, you’re blocking the TV.” We knew he was having trouble seeing the woman with the big boobs who was a regular on the show and sang romantic love songs. We would sit down, but we’d still tap our feet and rock back and forth.

Everything can be counted, but it is transformed in the counting, maybe into a collection, like Lawrence Welk’s accordions. But the members of a collection are unique and the same. Maybe unique in essence, but the same in name and number. A one, and a two, and a three.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99. A Kindle edition is available for $5.99.


Heterogenium (he’-ter-o-gen-i-um): Avoiding an issue by changing the subject to something different. Sometimes considered a vice.

He asked me what I was doing in a place like this. I told him I owned it and he told me he was from Yonkers. Then he told me the snow outside was beautiful. I told him he was full of shit and probably wanted to talk about his new living room furniture, or some thing like that. I asked him if he wanted a drink and he told me the bar stool was very comfortable. I asked him if he knew how to give a straight answer. “I could ask you for a job,” he said. I told him I might have a position. He told me he was lonely and wanted to spend time with me outside the bar, in the parking lot, in his car.

He was cute. Black hair, tall, thin, blue eyes, nicely dressed, trimmed beard. But I thought he was crazy—the way answered questions, or should I say, didn’t answer questions. I could imagine if I asked him if he loved me! What would he say? “I had fish ‘n chips for lunch.” But, he wants me to go out in the parking lot and get in his car with him! I am a little crazy, but I told him there was no way I would go outside with him to his car, besides, I was in charge of the bar and couldn’t leave it. I also told him I wouldn’t do anything like that with anybody anyway. I had a reputation to maintain at “Prima Donna’s” if I was to keep packing in the customers.

He told me he had a “relevance” problem that he picked up when he was working for the government. He was trained to give irrelevant answers to all question. This was for national security reasons. “Irrelevance” was a key tactic for maintaining secrecy and thwarting the United States’ enemies from obtaining sensitive information. Since he couldn’t tell who were friends and who were enemies, irrelevance soon became a ubiquitous feature of all of his speech. As a consequence he became alone and isolated, unable to build a conversational bridge between himself and everybody he met. All of his relationships ended in catastrophe after 10- or 15-minutes. Some ended worse than others. One time, a date he met on “Woo Woo!” asked him whether she should park in his driveway when she got to his house. His answer was “I had fried eggs.” At first she was confused, so she asked again. He said, “My dog’s name is Pete.” She became angry, pulled in the driveway, got out of her car and hurled the bottle of wine she had brought through the front door’s storm door window. He went running outside, shook his fist, and yelled “My tropical fish need feeding!” His date did a lawn job, peeling across his front yard, leaving two deep ruts and torn up grass behind her as she sped away. He chased her and ran into a stop sign on the corner of his street, doing $2,300 damage to his car, a used Tesla that he’d flown all the way from Massachusetts to California to buy.

Now he is in the process of trying to get disability compensation for his condition—for his “irrelevance syndrome.” The “Syndrome” it is, for all practical purposes, impossible to treat. First, there is no record of “irrelevance” being induced in any government employee, including CIA. Second, with his condition as it is, no progress whatsoever can be made, because everything he says is irrelevant to any questions that are asked by medical doctors and psychotherapists. He is best at angry monologues that are prompted by medical personnel sticking pins in his hands. But Still, although coherent, they are irrelevant—ranging from bird watching with his mother to watching “Magnum P.I.” reruns in bed.

A mild breakthrough has been made recently. Getting him drunk and giving him a pack of Marlboro 27s enable him to capture brief moments of relevance. For example, two days ago he was asked what two plus two equals. In a drunken voice, he said “I don’t know what for.” His use of the word “for” is a homophone for “four.” The Doctors and Psychotherapists say this is a clear bridge to relevance. They will be jointly authoring a research paper titled: “Building Bridges with Nicotine and Alcohol: The Case of Government Agent X.” Agent X is nearly always drunk and smokes three packs of cigarettes per day. I have taken pity on him and will be hiring him at Prima Donna’s. It is probably a stupid move, given his malady. I’m going to have him in work in the basement shining beer, wine, and liquor bottles. Maybe some day he’ll snap out of it and we meet in his car in the parking lot.

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

An edition of the Daily Trope is available on Amazon under title The Book of Tropes.


Maxim (max’-im): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegm, gnome, paroemia, proverb, and sententia.

“Blow your tuba parallel to the ground.” Whenever I was off on my way to do something—play baseball, go to the grocery store, go on a date—anything that took place in public, my father would utter these words of wisdom. When I asked him what he meant, he’d say, “Come on, don’t mess with me. I’m your father shit for brains.” What he did tell me was that “Blow your tuba parallel to the ground” was a saying whose meaning was passed down through the years in the family from the oldest male who was a father, to his oldest male son who was a father, from generation to generation. There would be a secret ceremony in the garage, in the parked car’s front seat, where the saying’s secret meaning was revealed. I was the oldest son, but I didn’t have a son yet.

The years passed. I went to college, and then on to State University for a PhD. in Anthropology. Given my family background, I specialized in “sayings.” I studied the ancient Camdenite culture of Southern New Jersey. They had left inscriptions carved in trees throughout the region. It had taken linguists years to decipher their language. Able now to translate the trees’ inscriptions, I set about compiling their sayings, looking for themes that would shed light on the hierarchy of the good giving meaning to their lives.

The first thing I discovered was their equivalent of the English f-word was most prevalent. It was used in a contracted form to modify nearly each word in a sentence, as in “F-in eat the f-in clam.” This saying, along with a few others like it, appeared over and over again in the context of advice concerning male romantic endeavors. Most of the tree sayings were simple and basic, aside from the romantic sayings (as above) that were oblique, cryptic, and metaphoric and referenced activities of a sexual nature (as above). The more straightforward and utilitarian sayings were clear and down to earth: “Put your f-in spear away on an f-in rainy day.” “Don’t f-in piss on the f-in fire.” “F-in go outside to f-in fart.” I think these sayings can be taken literally, but they may also have deep figurative references that speak to the soul of Camdenite culture—a culture beyond my understanding as a 21st century bearer of a multi-faceted wi-fi and Zoom-enmeshed in all the f-in mind-game crap you have to put with to get a goddamn f-in PhD. So, I finished my dissertation as fast as I could, and graduated. My dissertation was titled “Differently Cultured Differences in Ancient South Jersey Sayings: F-in ‘A’ Mother F-er.” My dissertation won the “New Jersey Cultural Award for Making New Jersey Look Interesting.” There was a $200 prize and I didn’t start my professor job for a month, so I decided to go home and see if I could wrest out of my father the meaning of “Blow your tuba parallel to the ground.” In a way, it would top off my studies.

I arrived on a Friday afternoon. I rang the doorbell. My father answered the door.

So, standing right there on the porch, I asked him about the saying’s meaning for what seemed like the hundredth time, followed by: “All I can say dad is I don’t know the meaning of the advisory saying you’ve been plying me with all these years. How can I take its advice if I don’t know what is?” He put his hands together in a monk-like prayerful pose and said “That’s the f-in point, son.” Now I was even more confused. I was angry. I turned and stomped off the porch and headed for the bus station. As I turned the corner, I heard him yell, “Blow your tuba parallel to the ground.”

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

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Mesarchia (mes-ar’-chi-a): The repetition of the same word or words at the beginning and middle of successive sentences.

My hats are my passion. My hats are my inspiration. My hats are my corridor to what I can be. I started collecting hats when I was 10 years old. I got a set of electric trains for my birthday. Along with the train set, my father gave me an engineer’s hat. It had black and gray pinstripes and a tall floppy brim. The town’s train station was about two blocks from where I lived, It was a key stop for the commuter train going to and from New York City. I had a squirt can of “3-in-One Oil.” I’d walk up and down the platform in my hat pretending I was a railroad engineer waiting for my train. I’d tell people in thick railroad jargon that I was waiting for a “Brass Collar” (Railroad Bigwig) so we could have a look at the Clown Wagon” (Caboose) behind the “Battleship” (Large Locomotive) when it arrived from Hoboken at 3:30. Some people would laugh, others told me to go home where little boys belong. I understood that when I fell off the platform one day. People were screaming and yelling. The 2:30 from Newark was only 100 ft away, so nobody could help me. I laid in the middle of the tracks until the train stopped. I crawled out and the Conductor reached down and pulled me back up on the platform. He yelled, “You’re lucky to be alive!” as I ran for home, crying. My Mom asked me what was wrong, and I told her I had been tun over by the train from Newark. She smiled and said “You’re just like your father: an idiot! Have some milk and cookies.”

My second hat was a Union Soldier hat. Our family had taken a spring road trip to Washington, DC. We stopped at Gettysburg along the way to visit the famous battlefield where Lincoln had delivered his “Gettysburg Address” to dedicate a cemetery there. There was a museum there. It was a tribute to how crazy the US had gone, dividing into two separate countries and going to war. There was a gift shop attached to the museum that had a lot of Abraham Lincoln souvenirs—rulers with the “Gettysburg Address” printed on them and pencil sharpeners in the shape of Lincoln’s bust. There were placemats imprinted with photographic images of battlefield carnage, red white and blue garters, and cheap bourbon called “Famous Grant.” Then, there were the hats!

There were Union hats, and Confederate hats. I wanted a Confederate hat—I begged. My father called me a traitor and gave me his signature karate chop on the back of the neck. I blacked out for a second, like I always did. When I snapped back, I was wearing a Union soldier’s hat. “We won that damn war, and don’t forget it. Your great great great grand Uncle was killed by a Rebel—shot in the back and left to bleed to death on the battlefield at Shiloh. Never forget that. As we came out of the gift shop I saw a kid at the other side of the parking lot wearing a Rebel hat. I was mad after what my father had told me. I ran across the parking lot to kick the Rebel boy’s ass. I slipped on an oil spot, fell, and cut my knee. The Rebel boy came over and asked me if I was ok. I told him I was fine. He was from Fishhook, North Carolina. He told me his great great great grand Uncle was killed by a Yankee—shot in the back and left to bleed to death on the battlefield at Vicksburg. We made friends right there in that parking lot and were pen pals for years: he died on the battlefield at Can Tho in Vietnam.

In a way, my hat collection is a repository of memories—some good, some bad. I have 106 hats in my collection. When I put one on, it can be like flipping a switch on a time machine. I guess my most important hat is my Davy Crockett “raccoon skin cap.” Mine had a snap-on tail and glow-in-the dark eyes. It also had tuck-in ear flaps. When I put it on, I became “king of the wild frontier.” Knowing Davy had “killed him a bear when he was only three,” I was deeply disappointed that there were no bears in New Jersey that I could kill, but I went bear hunting anyway. I had a bow and arrow set that I had pulled the suction cups off of and sharpened the arrow shafts’ tips with my pencil sharpener. There was a patch of woods near were I lived. That’s where I went hunting. I never saw a bear, but once I saw my woodshop teacher Mr. Rippey with the girl’s gym teacher Miss Meedle. Miss Meedle was holding onto a tree while Mr. Rippey hopped up and down behind her. Now that I’m older, I know what was going on. At the time, I didn’t. When I told Mom what I had seen, she said “Oh my!” Nearly immediately, she called my school and asked for Mr. Rippey. When she got him on the line, she told me to leave the room.

Anyway, when you put something on your head, you put something in your head. Hats can affect your identity. Where would Napoleon have been without his hat? Mickey Mantle? The Cat in the Hat? Earnest Hemingway? Chico Marx? Tom Mix? Benny Hill? Queen Elizabeth? The Mad Hatter? There are hundreds more. Get a hat. Take a break from being you.

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

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Pareuresis (par-yur-ee’-sis): To put forward a convincing excuse. [Shifting the blame.]

I was selling paper airplanes at the Meander Brook Mall. I had a cylinder-shaped stand that the mall had loaned me to use as a counter. Everybody else who was selling stuff in the galleria had a big red pushcart with wagon wheels, slanted display cases, and big light blue umbrellas, making it look like they were at a park, selling stuff to passers by. One guy was selling sticky notes in different colors and sizes. What would you use an 8X10 orange sticky note for? A suicide note?

The guy on the other side of me was selling battery-powered, rechargeable “universal” car jacks. They could also be plugged directly into your car’s former cigarette lighter—a nice touch. He had invented the electric car Jack after his wife had died of a heart attack jacking up their car. They had had a blowout on I-90 on their way to Albany, New York, to the New York State Museum. He told me his mechanic had noticed the bald tire, but had assured him it had another one-thousand miles on it, more than enough to get him to Albany and back to his little town in Central New York. Tears welled up in his eyes, and he turned a little angry as he said: “I never should have listened to that damn mechanic.” “But what about your wife?” I asked “Didn’t you know she had some kind of heart condition?” “It wasn’t my fault. She loved her Crisco Cakes and Lemon Puckers: one dozen per day. If I mentioned that she might want to quit them, or cut back, she would call me names like “Hitler” and throw her pink hair curlers at me, and then, eat a Crisco Cake with two hands.”

Then I noticed, some kid was wrapping his gum in one of my paper airplane sheets. I went back to my kiosk, and chased him away, but not before I made him unwrap his gum and give me back the paper, which was a little damp, but would dry out quickly. The name of my business was “Flying Paper.” I had a problem from time to time with people thinking I sold kites. But, as soon as they saw my display, they knew I was selling paper airplanes. I sold airplane paper—special ultralight—tissue paper lightly seasoned with organic mucilage glue that reduces the paper’s limpness, and gives it light weight stiffness. I also sell a little booklet titled “Bold Fold” that gives instructions on how to fold a variety of paper airplanes: from the “Migrating Goose,” to the “Fighting Falcon.” I also have this powder you can snort called “Diminuating Dust.” One snort, and it will make you tiny for fifteen minutes so you can take a ride on your own paper airplane. Get a loved-one to launch you, but make sure you have enough time. If you get big again while you’re ten feet up, it could kill you. I had gotten the dust when I was dealing drugs in the 80s. I was in the middle of the jungle in Bolivia looking for the Holy Grail of cocaine. I was laying on my back in my tent when I felt something pulling out my eyebrows. I sat up and a tiny man tumbled down my chest. He had a tiny dot of white powder on his fingertip. He shoved it in my nose and I felt like a contracting rubber band. I was tiny for fifteen minutes. Lucky for me, I was in my tent and there were no insects. I took 100 kilos back to the States. Customs had no idea what the powder was, so I had no trouble. I made the paper airplane connection on the way home. Flying toward New York was my inspiration. I had a vision of Tiny Me straddling a paper airplane, flying around my living room.

I have given the gift of flight to 100s of people with no major mishaps. The only downside is if you use the dust too much, you stay small. I have succumbed. When working at the mall, I wear a Big Man hydraulic shell with controls in the head. I look like I’m trying to be a robot, so the ruse works as an apparent attention-getting gimmick. Outside of work, I ride on a little saddle on my assistant’s shoulder. All I have to wear are Chelsea Boy Doll shorts, t-shirts, and trainers. In fact, my furniture and dinnerware are all from Barbie’s house. But, I have a tiny girlfriend named Shiela that is stuck tiny like me. In fact, there is a growing community of Tinys that is slowly organizing and demanding the same rights as Bigs.

I have to return to Bolivia next week to restock my supply of Diminuating Dust. Another 100 kilos should do the trick for another 20-30 years. I’ve hired a mother and daughter to pack me in their carry-on luggage, where I’ll pose as Barbie’s Chelsea Boy “friend” with the brunette hair. As long as I stay stiff and keep my eyes open, I’m good to go.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Synaloepha (sin-a-lif’-a): Omitting one of two vowels which occur together at the end of one word and the beginning of another. A contraction of neighboring syllables. A kind of metaplasm.

It was Halloween. The kids were finally old enough to go out on their own. Mickey was going trick or treating as a mower man, pushing our old broken rotary lawnmower around the neighborhood, wearing overhauls, boots, a t-shirt and a New York Yankees ball cap. Our daughter Roxanne was going out as a big lump of bituminous coal with “No Coal” painted on the front and back. We were left at home alone with two big bowls of candy—one filled with little ‘mprinted heart candies left over from Valentine’s Day, the other, filled with homemade candy I had made—cubes of sugar soaked in cherry Kool-Aid with a raisin on top. The raisins had kept falling off so I had glued them on with maple syrup and kept them in the freezer overnight. We were dressed all in black to try to be scary. We were a little eccentric, but that’s what we liked about us. The children headed out, each carrying a laundry basket for the candy they would collect—a family tradition. About five minutes later, the doorbell rang. Three little costumed guests pushed through the door and stood silently by the candy bowls.

They were weird looking. They wore black robes touching the floor, a small fire extinguisher on their backs, eye-masks, and knitted hats with a logo that looked like a liver with feet and raised arms with blue, very hairy, armpits. “What team is that on your hats?“ I asked. Their little eye holes flashed twice, once green once blue. I thought how clever they were to use solar-powered Christmas lights that way, but they didn’t answer my question. I was starting to think they were rude—they barged into our house and didn’t answer my innocuous question. I looked at my husband and he just smiled. I asked them if they were going to take candy. Once again, their eyes flashed twice, this time once red and once yellow. Then they immediately and simultaneously drew what looked like 1950s Buck Rogers Sonic Ray Guns from their robes. Playing along, I raised my hands and cried: “Ooh, don’t shoot me little Moon men!” That was a mistake. There was a flash of light and a tickling feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t move or talk. My husband was gone. A least I was conscious.

I was being dragged toward an old, rusted, dented up green Jeep Cherokee. It had tinted windows all the way around and NY vanity plates reading “BLASTOFF.” After a bit of a struggle, I landed on my back, buckled into a reclining seat, like a chaise lounge. I was shocked when I looked around. The Jeep was loaded with lit up consoles, some with what looked like typical computer and video screens, others I guessed, after all that had happened, with some kind of extraterrestrial technologies. That is, I came to the realization that my cute little “trick or treaters” were abducting me, and there was nothing I could do about it. They were actual space aliens on a mission to earth.

Suddenly I felt I had turned into a warm ocean wave. I closed my eyes and I could see my brain pulsing wildly, pushing out aloha shirt prints and finally turning into a baked ham with pineapple and maraschino cherries. Then it all stopped. We had arrived. My restraint unbuckled. The door opened and I stepped out. It was a beautiful day. The air smelled like jasmine and there was a tall woman walking toward me. She was smiling. It was Amelia Earhart! She reached out and we shook hands. She told me the “one good thing about this place is you don’t age—you’re immortal.” I was completely taken aback and thought I was hallucinating. But I wasn’t. Amelia was really there, but nobody knew why we were there. She invited me to dinner that night with Jimmy Hoffa and Anastasia Romanov. We had a wonderful time and I couldn’t help but wonder why a nobody like me had landed here.

I miss my family, but the longer I am away from them, the less I miss them, especially my husband who is a certified asshole. I have been dating D.B. Cooper for 4 years. We went parachuting again last week. I loved it. He is hot with the parachute and the sunglasses. He wants to get married. I told him I wouldn’t marry him in 100 years. He took off his sunglasses and said, “I can wait.”

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

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Synzeugma (sin-zoog’-ma): That kind of zeugma in which a verb joins (and governs) two phrases by coming between them. A synonym for mesozeugma.

I didn’t know what to do. I was cold, going into the cold, hard night, following nothing, aimless, rootless free of all restraint yet lost like a puppy. I wanted to whine—to sing the song of lost souls, to bang my head on the sidewalk, to tear at my already tattered custom-tailored suit, so lovingly and joyfully purchased in Paris last spring. I wore it to the opening of my play: “One Size Fits All.”

The play was about the invention of Spandex, and the threat it posed to cotton, linen, polyester, silk, and even leather. Tailors, cutters, and fitters would be doomed by a material needing none of the above to be made and sold. It was attractive and could carry any shape, color, or design. People started wearing Spandex “onesies” imprinted with the NYC skyline, their pets, themselves, and anything else that could be custom imprinted—some of it fairly disgusting. Spandex went to war with cotton t-shirts as a canvas for self-absorbed images. It was brutal and unprecedented in the history of fabrics. Cotton fields were poisoned. Spandex, being a polyether-polyurea copolymer, was impossible to easily destroy. It’s manufacturers’ factories in the US became armed garrisons, surrounded by electrified barbed wire fences, trenches filled with acid, and .50 caliber machine guns arrayed along newly constructed ramparts.

Of course, as any idiot could easily see, “One Size Fits All” was totally fictional! It is an allegory of capitalist competition run wild. It was intended as entertaining with a slight didactic edge. But the world we live in is crazy. An anonymous conspiracy theorist, whose screen name is Dr. Bite and who is remarkably influential, claimed on his website, “You Don’t Know, Do you?” that my play was a communist inducement to the Apocalypse—he implicated me as a propagandist and aspiring contributor to the end of the world, claiming that “one size fits all” is a cryptic reference to communist ideology, advocating the death of individualism; the first sign of the Apocalypse. Given the politics of the 21st century, my play was closed. The script was burned in public all over the US, and it’s burning had become the grand finale of torchlight parades. I was stripped of my MFA, and I was forever banned from the Dramatists Guild of America. But I was going to fight back!

Despite being, lost, alone, and depressed, and the Pariah King of New York, I had a handful of faithful friends who were funding my exit of the US and supporting my sojourn in Cuba, where I was to be protected like Salman Rushdie. I was supposed leave in one day.

I looked up from my pitiful reflection in the muddy puddle I was standing in. There was a man standing in front of me in a Spandex suit imprinted with a picture of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Also, he was holding a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. We locked eyes. I was terrified. He smiled and pointed a chicken drumstick at my head. “Here, take it. You must be hungry.” I recognized the voice—it was a guy I went to high school with—we called him Dimmy. He was stupid. He was on the football team, He was always weird. This was a coincidence from hell. I thanked him for he chicken and told him that I had to go and secure my place under the bridge underpass for the night. He said: “No, you’re leaving tonight.” I got an instant rush of total joy. We went to Newark and boarded a chartered jet. When I got off the jet, I knew I wasn’t in Cuba. It looked more like Texas, and I was introduced to Dr. Bite. “You work for me now,” he said with a grim look on his face. I got down on my knees and started banging my head on the tarmac, hoping my head would crack. It didn’t.

I have everything I need here except my freedom. I’m writing another “apocalyptic” play for Dr. Bite. He’s going to have it translated into Arabic and claim he found it in Saudi Arabia on the site of an excavation for a used-car lot in Riyadh. The play’s title is “Oil and Water.” It’s about Arab countries cornering the market on bottled water, charging outrageous prices, and forcing half the world’s population to die of thirst. Who would believe it? Would you believe it?

Hovering everywhere in Dr. Bite’s lair, there is a very old man in a wheelchair who’s clad in a sort of olive-brown suit. He is small and skinny. He said to me one day: ‘You know, son, in political speech, effectiveness is more important than the truth.” I could hardly understand him through his accent. His name was Glubbles or Gobbles or something like that and he had been “rescued and reincarnated” by Dr. Bite so he could continue his “good works.” I thought he was crazy like all of Dr. Bite’s associates. He looked familiar, though, but I couldn’t place him. He had a weird tic. When he would get excited, he would stick his right arm up in the air. Sometimes, even though he was in a wheelchair, he would click his heels together and yell “yah vol.”

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

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Tapinosis (ta-pi-no’-sis): Giving a name to something which diminishes it in importance.

I’m 29 and they call me “Goo Goo.” It has got to be the worst nickname ever or anywhere. It is worse than “Dooley Burger” or “Biltong Butt” or, for sure, “Cabbage Breath.” As far as I know, it comes from the sound I made before I could talk. It was cute back then, but now I carry it everywhere—my boss at work even calls me Goo Goo: “Hey Goo Goo, bring me the Potcher real estate file.” The nickname has faded into the woodwork. It just seems “normal” to everybody to call a 29-year-old man Goo Goo. I used to say “please don’t call me that,” but I gave up. People would say “Ok Goo Goo,” or “Whatever you want Goo Goo,” and then just go on calling me Goo Goo. I thought, maybe if I changed my nickname I could escape Goo Goo. My Name is George Matlock. I though that “Mat” would be a good nickname. When people called me “Goo Goo,” I would say “Please call me Mat, it’s short for Matlock, my last name.” Not a single person honored my request, not even my mother. In fact, she was insulted and threatened to die at home instead of St. Martyr’s Nursing Home, where all I would have to do is visit every month, pawning off her end-of-life care on the good Sisters.

After exhausting all my nickname excising strategies, I decided to move somewhere far, far away from where “everybody knew my name.” I settled on Botswana, where I could get a job as a broker working in a diamond exchange. As far as I knew I was a complete stranger to everybody in the whole country of Botswana. I became Mat Matlock. Good solid Mat Matlock. Every time I said my name was “Mat,” a chill ran down my spine. I had “Mat” monogrammed on my shirt cuffs. I had a white hat that had “Mat” embroidered on it in giant red letters. I wore it to play golf. I had a water bottle that said “Mat.” Next, sitting in my living room on a Saturday afternoon, I was considering a “Mat” tattoo. The doorbell rang. I opened the door. It was a postman hand-delivering a piece of mail “forwarded all the way from the USA.” As the postman handed it over, to my horror I saw it was addressed to Goo Goo Matlock and it was from Publisher’s Clearing House. I asked the postman if anybody else had seen it. He said, “Well, Mr. Goo Goo, of course.” When I heard him say “Mr. Goo Goo,” a pain shot through my chest and I fell on the floor. I woke up in a hospital room. My wristband said “Goo Goo Matlock.” I tried to smother myself with my pillow, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. A nurse came in my room to administer my meds. She said, “Now, now Goo Goo, I’ll be taking care of you. We’ll get that mean old heart attack fixed.”

When my nurse said “Goo Goo,” all my anxieties faded away. Her “Goo Goo” had a magical effect. “How did you find me?” I asked. She looked shyly at the floor. She said, “I’ve always been here Goo Goo.” Again, I felt the magical inflow. She told me she was the guardian spirit I had unwittingly conjured as a little boy when I had said “Goo Goo” in my crib. She had nicknamed me “Goo Goo” and had implanted it in my mother’s head, and had spread it far and wide. I was dumbfounded, a little scared, but mostly angry. “Why did you make me suffer all those years, hating it, and being humiliated, every time I was called Goo Goo?” Tears came to her eyes—they were beautiful as they sparkled in the hospital room’s institutional light. “It’s about the lessons we must learn in life” That did it! All the suffering bullshit. It hurt. It was awful. I didn’t learn shit. I grabbed the water bottle from the bedside table, and aimed it for her head. The bottle hit her square on the forehead and her head burst into pastel-colored flames. There was a little man’s head inside her head yelling “Goo Goo” and laughing maniacally. Suddenly, she disappeared and my hospital wristband said “Mat Matlock.” The postman came to visit and he called me “Mat.” I was free!

Everybody was happy to see me when I came back to work at the diamond exchange. A huge blue diamond had been mined while I was gone. I was anxious to see it, so I went down to the vault to check it out. It was in a glass case with a name card leaning against it: “Goo Goo.” I felt like I was falling down an elevator shaft. I was shaking, pounding my forehead, and laughing maniacally. I was given an additional 2 weeks leave from work. I sought out a famous shaman from Zimbabwe. Together, we got on the internet and, along with numerous charms and potions, we Googled, and we found the Goo Goo spirit hiding as a photo of a Caramel Gooey Bite on a Quest Candy site—a very clever ruse for a Goo Goo. The Shaman whipped up a piece of anti-Goo Goo code, spoke an incantation, released the code on the Quest Candy site, and scrambled the Goo Goo once and for all.

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

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Topographia (top-o-graf’-i-a): Description of a place. A kind of enargia [: {en-ar’-gi-a} generic name for a group of figures aiming at vivid, lively description].

“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” I knock the heels of my laceless sneakers together. I don’t even know where home is anymore: not like Dorothy. It was Kansas where she was from and it was Kansas she went back to. I’m not going back to anywhere except a mess hall, a license plate machine, and an exercise yard. But, I can hope. I don’t have ruby slippers, but I can hope.

I shot my boss between the eyes when I caught him with my sleaze-ball wife at a low budget motel—Dream Weaver—on Rte. 46 outside of Dover. I’d bought the Glock down in South Carolina, “just in case.” It was initially for home defense, but it ended up serving a higher purpose.

I’d had an eye on my wife and boss since the office Christmas party when they disappeared just long enough to “do the deed.” So, I started following my wife, and one Saturday, she went “grocery shopping” at Dream Weaver Motel. The boss’s Land Rover was parked next to my wife’s Ford Fiesta. That was it! I jacked a round into the Glock, ran to the door, shot the hell out of it, and kicked it open. The two of them were huddled naked in a corner of the room, begging. I shot out the TV, then I stuck the gun out in front of me, marched up to my boss, and blew a hole in his forehead. At least he said he was sorry before I offed him. The only reason I didn’t shoot my wife was because I didn’t want our kid to end up in an orphanage, or our dog Rusty in an animal shelter.

The murder earned me a home for life, by the grace of the state of New Jersey. My “home” is about the size of two windowless refrigerator boxes—the whole thing is made of stainless steel, except for the floor, which is sealed concrete. My en-suite toilet has no seat and it affords me the convenience of not having to remember to put anything down after going. I have a narrow bed sticking out of the wall with a 2” thick mattress with no sheet, just a suicide-proof blanket. There’s also a tiny pillow with no pillow case— it’s like trying to rest your head on a doormat. I have a small desk that sticks out of the wall, with a hurl-proof chair affixed to rails. I also have a laptop with no internet connection, and the world’s smallest flat screen TV. I watch FOX News all day, and at night too. I find the truth refreshing.

Believe it or not, my wife comes to visit. It has something to do with her therapy. I ask her about the kid and the dog and if she was able to easily wash off the boss’s blood. She inevitably starts to gag, and then I make my hand into a gun shape and point it at her. She picks up her purse and runs for the exit. This happens every time she visits. Since she keeps coming back, her therapy must be working. I know mine is!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Acervatio (ak-er-va’-ti-o): Latin term Quintilian employs for both asyndeton (acervatio dissoluta: a loose heap) and polysyndeton (acervatio iuncta:a conjoined heap).

I am a big, bold, beer swilling man from Binghamton. I roll my cigarettes with comic book covers—Batman, Archie, Little LuLu, Flash Gordon, and Donald Duck. I eat cold soup from the can. I am the man! That is, until I have to go to the Post Office.

First—there are the wanted posters. I robbed a mail truck five years ago. My baklava got caught on the truck’s door and pulled off. The driver told me he’d “”keep it quiet” and never say what I look like to anybody, not even the FBI. I told him I really appreciated it, and from now on I would send all my mail overnight express, to help the postal service compete more effectively with FEDEX or UPS. Of course, I was lying, but under the circumstances it was all I could come up with. He was lying too. Soon, I saw an artist’s sketch of a guy that looked a lot like me hanging in my neighborhood Post Office. I was described as armed and dangerous—if you saw me you were supposed to call 911. But the only arms I had were hanging out of my shoulders, and dangerous? I was about as dangerous as an earthworm.

Second—I met my 4th wife Luletta in line at the Post Office. I was there to mail mother’s birthday present. I had gotten my mother an electric potato masher. The box said it could be used to mash vegetables, and also provide “a deep massage.” I have since found out what “deep message” means. Mother never complained. Luletta was holding a fairly large, and poorly taped, and scuffed up, and unwieldy cardboard box. It was wet on one of the bottom corners, and it was dripping almost imperceptibly, and I knew that the postal clerk would refuse it. I had my packing tape in my back pack, so I offered to help. Lulleta and I cut out of line and went over to a corner. We knelt down with our backs to the cue and added tape to her box, to try to seal the leak. Weirdly, it seemed to stop leaking. I asked her what was in the box. She looked around furtively and whispered “Stolen snow globes from Macy’s. I’m sending them to the orphanage where my son lives.” “Wait! You’re alive! How can your son be in an orphanage!” Luletta answered, “I might as well be dead. I ran away from an ICU after I fell out a window. I wanted to disappear. They were too understaffed to look for me, so they declared me dead. Everybody felt sorry for the hospital orderlies, so the coroner colluded, eventually burying a big wad of dirty laundry as me.” Luletta’s package passed muster and we left the Post Office and went to my apartment, and smoked some weed, and decided to get married. She was insane and actually thought she was dead. She spent most of her days lying her back on the couch with her hands crossed over her chest, with somber organ music playing on our CD player. I divorced her as soon as I could.

Third—so, between the wanted poster and memories of Luletta, the Post Office repelled me. I was very patriotic, so I did not want to turn to FEDEX or to UPS to pick up and deliver my packages. So, I decided to wear a disguise when I had to go to the Post Office: big buck teeth, thick black rimmed glasses, and a black Beatles wig. I thought I had it covered. When I wore my disguise to the post office for the first time, the guy in line in front of me started pointing toward the wanted posters and nodding his head. The post office clerk was gesturing and speaking excitedly into his cellphone. Suddenly, one of the other postal clerks appeared outside the door and locked it. I looked at the wanted posters and there was one with a man’s picture on it that looked like he had stolen my disguise! We looked like twins. I was arrested. When I removed my disguise, the Fed realized who I really was. I was tried and convicted of stealing US Mail.

After serving 1 year, I was recently paroled. Even though I’ve served my time, trips to the post office still make me shudder. I have started collecting postage stamps as a way of confronting my fears. Today, I found a Pee Wee Herman stamp. It made me feel better.

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

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Anamnesis (an’-am-nee’-sis): Calling to memory past matters. More specifically, citing a past author [apparently] from memory. Anamnesis helps to establish ethos [credibility], since it conveys the idea that the speaker is knowledgeable of the received wisdom from the past.

“My grandmother’s over eighty and she doesn’t need glasses. She drinks out of the bottle.” Henny Youngman

When I first heard this, I thought of my own grandmother, holding a bottle with two hands and taking a shot. She’d do that three times a day—breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Due to her age, she could hardly walk, but she took a walk every day up and down the driveway shuffling along supported by two aluminum canes we had found cast off by the curb on the day of the month when people are permitted to put non-garbage in the gutter. One day on her morning walk, Grandma tripped over my brother Billy’s toy truck. As she was falling, she yelled, “Who the fuck left that goddamn piece of shit in the driveway?” Then she hit the pavement. Billy peed his pants and ran away. He didn’t come back for two days. The police found him hiding in the rubbish pile by the middle school. He had gone a little crazy after the incident. He had smashed his toy truck to pieces at the playground parking lot and was wearing only white socks, and had covered himself with mud. What’s worse, Billy had gotten really bad diarrhea from drinking out of the little creek that runs through the playground. Dad brought Billy home from the police station with a blanket wrapped across his shoulders, containing the smell and affording him some warmth and coverage.

I was shocked at Grandma’s swearing. But it will always be hard to understand why Billy responded like he did. I can see being very upset and begging Grandma’s forgiveness, but what Billy did was crazy. And this was just the start. Billy started making snorting sounds at the dinner table and sticking his face in his dinner plate like a dog would stick it’s face in it’s dog bowl. He would go out in the back yard when he thought nobody was watching and do his “thing,” actually taking off his pants and lifting his leg toward the big maple tree. Billy was institutionalized when he started sniffing his classmates’ butts. We never had a dog, and hardly ever saw a dog. We always wondered where Billy’s dog identity came from. Then one afternoon, I noticed a picture of a dog by Grandma’s bed—it was Whizzer, her companion for many years. Maybe Billy became a dog because he wanted to take Whizzer’s place as a way of atoning for the driveway incident. I asked Grandma what she thought of my theory. She said, “Keep that up and you’ll be sharing a room with my nutcase grandson.” Then I asked her why she swore like she did that day. “None of your fucking business,” she said as she looked out the window.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Gorgias has inserted the bracketed words [apparently] and [credibility].

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Anaphora (an-aph’-o-ra): Repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines.

I fell from grace like tumbling dice, loaded and rolling into the curb, and bouncing one last time before they rested, showing their illicit dots from 1-12.

I fell from grace like a gambler with a magical hope, a special design, an intuition promoting confidence in winning my bet, stuffing bills away and paying my debts to the man with the handgun standing against the wall smoking a cigarette and squinting.

I fell from grace not long after I had obtained it, like an old man with a broken memory unable to recall his own name, living in a cruel nursing home with nothing but swirling fog in his head that would clear for a minute or two when he spoke to his granddaughter on the phone or watched Gilligan’s Island reruns with the other residents in the day room. He took 11 tablets per day—his breath smelled strongly of vitamin B and his nose would not stop dripping.

What does it mean fall from grace, to slip away from what ought to matter—taking an Uber ride off a cliff and sailing toward the bottom of a canyon where a glistening river runs through the rocks scattered below? The river, the water, has worn the canyon into the earth, turned boulders into gravel and given beautiful fat fish a home, a place for deer to drink, and a brink at the canyon’s edge—a launch pad for bungee jumpers and a step into death for the bereaved.

I stand at the brink bereft of a stretchy cord. I am graceless beyond measure. I can’t cry anymore. I jump. There is a rock ledge 2 feet below the cliff’s edge. I land on it feet first and regain my balance. I climb back up on the cliff. I take one last look and head for my car. It’s a long drive home, and I have a lot to think about.

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

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Anastrophe (an-as’-tro-phee): Departure from normal word order for the sake of emphasis. Anastrophe is most often a synonym for hyperbaton, but is occasionally referred to as a more specific instance of hyperbaton: the changing of the position of only a single word.

Over the hill I went. It wasn’t an upward incline with with a plummet on the other side. Rather, my 80th birthday it was. I was so old I could remember Roosevelt in his last term as President, and then, Harry Truman—“Give ‘em hell Harry!” That was pre-Fox News, when most Americans had a solid grip on America, knew what was good for them, and could tell the difference between a Commie and a Democrat, shit and Shinola. Now they’re eating shit and enjoying it. The “public” has become a collection of inmates incarcerated by lies, misinformation, and basically, a pile of steaming bullshit. Can you imagine trying to get Social Security through Congress in 2022? People in poverty, people living barren lives, elderly hungry Republicans, and nearly everybody who would directly benefit from a monthly paycheck, would protest its passage. Why? Their brains have been fried by FOX News—you can almost smell it when you get close to them. Whatever FOX says is best, is best. There’s no room for critical thinking in their scrambled brains. They would be on the streets with flags and guns, threatening a revolution if the “commies” are allowed to pay benefits made from peoples’ working-life paycheck deductions. Now we know where their unfounded prejudices come from—opinions with no bases, except other unfounded opinions, ad infinitum. Justifications and excuses are layered on myths and because they are uttered by people wearing neckties/bowties who “know what’s really going on” they are adopted. In their conspiracy-laden wasteland, believers echo the echoes, and the echoes echo each other and transform into accepted truths and foundations for action. They become ubiquitous and are confirmed on Fox News—the enemy of America operating in plain view—while, ironically, hiding behind the US Constitution’s Second Amendment: the very document they’d like to see go up in flames, along with books like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense or Rights of Man.

That’s right. Letting FOX News sling their shit, is like having a Nazi News program airing its bullshit on the radio in the 30s. It’s like having Lord Haw-Haw telling us the “Truth.” But anyway, I’m an old man. Over the hill I’ve gone. Like most old people, I am a certified pessimist. When my great-grandson starts goose-stepping around the living room, I’ll probably start up my truck in the garage, with the garage door closed.


Anesis (an’-e-sis): Adding a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what has been said previously. The opposite of epitasis.

I work in the Cosmic Mirror Factory in Rabbit Drop, Pennsylvania. I think it reflects well on me, except for the horror I’ve experienced in front of the glass. You see, I’m a fog blower—I get one inch away from a newly made mirror and breathe on it, making a small circle of fog indicating the mirror’s viability. If it fogs, I draw a little smiley face in the fog. If it fails to fog, I smash it with a hammer and send the remnants back for recycling. I had to give up smoking to keep the job. My hacking cough kept me from blowing a stream of breath sufficient to fog the mirror. I was 6 months smoke free when it happened.

I was fog blowing a very large mirror that had been made for the lobby of a hotel in Doha. I couldn’t get it to fog and worried about smashing it, given what it had cost to make. I blew one more breath, hoping for it to fog, and it did! But the whole mirror fogged and the fog opened into portal. I stuck my hand into the portal and something grabbed me and pulled me in. When I got to the other side I looked in every direction, and it was a mirror everywhere I looked. But my reflection was not in any of the mirrors. I was invisible. “This is such a cliche,” I said aloud, voice trembling, “What am I, Alice in Wonderland?” The mirrored world briefly turned to clear glass and then it disappeared altogether leaving me in a log cabin on a ridge overlooking a beautiful valley with a wide river flowing through it. I was thirsty, so I hiked down to the river. I cupped my hands and dipped them in the river. Suddenly I was pulled into the river. I became a leaf. I was floating downriver. There was a centipede riding on me. He said his name was Sean and that he worked in a mirror factory in Edinburgh, Scotland and had been pulled through a mirror there 2 weeks ago, incarnating as a centipede when he got here. I was shocked. It was bad enough being some random leaf, but having a talking centipede riding me downriver was more than I could handle. At my first opportunity I would drown myself. Just then, we went over a waterfall at least fifty feet high. Sean fell off the leaf and the wind caught me and blew me ashore.

I awoke, soaking wet on the factory floor. I was holding a small wet maple leaf between my fingers. There was a wet guy standing over me wearing only a tattered kilt. “I’m Sean,” he said, “you saved my life. I hung onto you and let go when we drifted over the riverbank. Now, I’m going to rest under a rock for a few hours, and then, figure out how to get back to Scotland.” I sat there waiting for the next horror saga to hit. But it didn’t—it never did. I had the little maple leaf mounted in a glass shadow box and I keep it in plain view on my mantle. Given the hell I went trough and it’s role in saving me, it should’ve taught me a lesson, but I don’t know what the lesson is supposed to be. I still work for the Cosmic Mirror Factory as a fog blower, but I have vowed never to touch another mirror ever again. Sean has become an entomologist, specializing in the mating habits of centipedes.

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

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Antanaclasis (an’-ta-na-cla’-sis): The repetition of a word or phrase whose meaning changes in the second instance.

It was my room, but it had no room. That’s all I had. It was all I could afford living in New York City. It was like my dorm room in college, only smaller. My bed was the size of a closet door. I had a cube-shaped refrigerator that looked like a black hassock with a door. All my “cooking” was done on a hot plate or in a microwave smaller than my refrigerator. I had one electrical outlet. That’s where I plugged in my appliances. The refrigerator stayed plugged in always. My kettle and microwave changed places when I needed to use one or the other, or to charge my phone at night. I had one chair. It was red and was smeared with different-colored stains from years of use without cleaning. It was a recliner, so I could have a guest visit and stay over night. I had a tray table that I used to eat my meals from, watching movies and scrolling through Instagram on my phone. There was a toilet, a sink and a shower lined up against one wall. The shower was a six-foot high rectangular metal box with a curtain. I had one window overlooking the air shaft and walked up eight floors to get to my little chunk of New York living!

In the past four months I had been gently mugged nine times on my building’s stoop in broad daylight by the same person. I’ve given his description to the police so many times I have dreams about dancing with him at the techno music club around the the corner. My bicycle was stolen when I forgot to bring it up to my apartment, where I kept it hanging from the ceiling. The windows have been broken out of my car twice. Some crazy women keeps jumping out of the alley by my building and yelling at me for not making the child support payments. If she keeps it up, I’ll probably make the payments just to get her off my back. The night before last I saw a homeless man pee on the subway floor, followed by a super-fart that woke a guy up who was sleeping in his seat. He must’ve been a Veteran because he yelled “incoming” and put his head between his knees while the homeless man held out a styrofoam cup and started singing the song about piña coladas.

That did it. I had to get the hell out of NYC before something really bad happened to me—like turning into a paranoid loser, a vigilante, or a cab driver. But then there was Shiela from work. She would sit on my desk and let me look up her dress. I asked her out at least twenty times and she always said “No way!” This morning she was late for work and was not dressed nicely at all. Then, I had the biggest shock of my NYC life: Sheila was the “crazy” women who jumped out of the alley demanding child support payments from me!

That night, l packed my meager belongings. I had heard a song about going to Kansas City on the XM 60s station. It sounded like a pretty cool place. The lyric, “They got some crazy little women there” was a little troublesome. I just had to hope they weren’t as crazy as Shiela. I was going to Kansas City; Kansas City here I come.

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


Antanagoge (an’-ta-na’-go-gee): Putting a positive spin on something that is nevertheless acknowledged to be negative or difficult.

The oceans are rising. I used have to walk 100 yards to the beach from my summer home. Now, I only walk fifty yards to get to the nature-heated 85 degree ocean. These are the fruits of climate change—nothing bad about a hot ocean and a nearer shore! No more freezing chills up and down your spine when you try to swim. No more trudging to the beach and arriving tired from the trek. Then, there’s the diminishing bug population. What can be bad about that? I haven’t had to scrape a messy Monarch Butterfly off my car’s windshield in years! I remember what a pain in the butt it was—all that yellow goo and shattered orange and black wings. Thank God they’re going the way of the do-do. Then there’s birds. Those damn Passenger pigeons would fly over in the thousands, pooping mercilessly on everything below them. Luckily people loved how they tasted and market hunters with their sky canons blasted them into extinction. The last passenger pigeon was roasted and served with new potatoes, coleslaw, beets, boiled milkweed pods, and a bottle of “Dr. Grunt” a popular carbonated beverage made of sugar and water with a hint of ergot fungus. Finally: no more crap on the roof. But also, no more tasty bird on the table. But you know, nobody wants a crap coated roof. If you have to choose, you go for the roof. When the extinction was reported on the news, all the smart people gave a big “huzza” and started scraping the pigeon crap off their houses.

Instead of making climate change into a problem that needs be be solved, we should look at the positive things it has brought our way. Ten years ago, I was chased by a polar bear when I was minding my own business at the North Pole. These kinds of animals are a menace to humanity—they will eat you for God’s sake! Since I was chased, the Polar Ice Cap has melted a lot, leaving the damn polar bears to float around on breakaway icebergs until they drown. To say this is a bad thing is like saying winning the lotto is a bad thing!

Basically, I say you can shove your white rhino and run over a Darwin’s Fox tonight with your SUV! People are at the top of the food chain. Why treat some damn woodpecker or centipede like it was up there at the top like us? Next thing you know, we’ll be marrying Bambi’s mother or competing for jobs with raccoons! I say, look at the bright side. Just think if the only mammals running around out there were deer, cows, horses, sheep, and pigs. Just think if the only insects were honeybees. Just think if the only birds were chickens, turkeys, and ducks. Just think if the only plants were tomatoes, wheat, rice, corn, clover, and potatoes. Just think. A simple uncomplicated world with honey, duck meat, and cornbread is coming our way, courtesy of climate change. Take a deep breath and if you choke, be grateful. It’s the sound of better things coming. It’s the sound of change.

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

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Antenantiosis (an’-ten-an’-ti-os’-is): See litotes. (Deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite. The Ad Herennium author suggests litotes as a means of expressing modesty [downplaying one’s accomplishments] in order to gain the audience’s favor [establishing ethos]).

I can’t believe you’re giving me the Lock and Lord Award for the service I’ve done on behalf of Holy Christ Firearms (HCF). When I first came to work at HCF I was a small self-contained man riven with fear and living in nearly constant anxiety about pooping in my pants on the shop floor. But when it happened, nobody seemed to mind. I was elated that nobody cared, and for the first time in my life, it was ok to poop my pants at work. My adult diaper held the mess from running down my leg, and it’s charcoal filter contained the stink. My colleagues’ selfless acceptance of my health issues made me open my heart, and want to rain down blessings of my own on HCF. My first blessing project, as you all know, was to make an attachment for our Galilee Six Shooter. The attachment makes the revolver into a hammer, a meat tenderizer, a gavel, or a laser pointer—four transformations that versatilitizes the handgun— temporarily turning a “sword” into a “plowshare.” We call the attachment the “Swiss Army Regimenter.” We’ve always heard good things about the Swiss Army, the knives they make, and the Wild uniforms they wear guarding the Vatican. We sent a “Regimenter” to the Pope and he blessed it and put it up for sale at the Vatican’s annual yard sale. Our “Regimenter” landed on a table with a piece of Joan of Arc’s dress, from before she started wearing armor. Next to Joan’s dress was a fragment of a communion wafer that Charlemagne choked on. Finally, there was a glass eye that had belonged to Bishop Fulton Sheen, the first televangelist. We all know he made Billy Graham look like a lost sheep wandering along the Protestant slow lane on the road to heaven. How baaad can it get? Ha ha!

My second blessing project was the “Sinners Around the Corner” rifle. It has a specially bent barrel that shoots around corners. If you’re in a shootout with a sinner, it keeps you out of harm’s way. Since you can’t see what you’re shouting at, there may be the occasional accident, but that is far outweighed by the bent barrel’s around-the-corner safety capability.

Oh darn. I pooped. I have to cut my speech short and go clean up in the men’s room. Let me conclude by saying how undeserving I am of this prestigious award. I am so grateful for your decision and the love that everyone has shown me, especially Ms. Binklo who has literally stood by me despite the gurgling and farting when I’ve had to let one go. Thank you Mindy. Thank you fellow workers. But especially, thank you Holy Christ Firearms—your aim is true.

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

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Anthimeria (an-thi-mer’-i-a): Substitution of one part of speech for another (such as a noun used as a verb).

He was a human “Ho-Ho.” I can’t explain it, but every time I saw Milt I started to laugh. Maybe my laughter came from basic meanness or some kind of incongruity between Milt and the way we’re supposed to look, and the way he looked. Milt must’ve dressed in the dark every morning. One day he showed up at work wearing one black polartec slipper and one patent leather dress shoe, red sweat pants, plaid flannel shirt, a blue necktie with a picture of a smiling Jesus on it, and a hat advertising baked beans. Standing there with his Tiger Wood coffee mug, he gave me a big smile and said “Hi Jim.” I tried to return the greeting, but I started uncontrollably sucking in air and my nose started snoffelling and my throat contracted, then, bam, out came a chuckle that turned into a guffaw, that turned into a roaring belly laugh. After it all subsided, I apologized to Milt and started to walk away. “Wait a minute,” he said. He told me he suffered from sartorial dyslexia (SD): an inability to dress right due to a genetically-based chemical imbalance in the part of the brain that processes wardrobe choices. He told me he inherited it, and that family gatherings were like fashion shows without fashion—everything from bathing suits with sports coats, to total nudity with one black Blundstone, and an Apple Watch. I was totally taken by surprise that Milt had a disease that prompted his bizarre clothing choices. I asked him if there was some kind of foundation I could donate to that helps people suffering from SD. He told me the most help I could give was to “Walk in my shoe for a day.”

So, the next morning I dressed in the dark—putting on whatever came to hand, whenever it came to hand. I ended up leaving the house with a Beatle boot on one foot and a penny loafer on the other, blue compression pants, a hunter orange polartec vest, and a navy-blue necktie with ducks on it (neckties were required at work). When I stepped out my door I instantly noticed that people were staring at me, some were laughing and pointing, same were yelling mean taunts—“Where’d you get dressed? In a blender?” That was the rudest. I didn’t even get to the subway before turning around and running with a shoe-induced limp back to my apartment. When I got there, I tore off my clothes and took a shower. I felt so bad for Milt.

I moved in with him and became his “dresser.” I would properly dress him every morning before we went to work. I even went to one of his family gatherings. It was a combination of a mescaline-induced Mardi Gras and a Hieronymus Bosch painting. I loved it! Anyway, we fell in love and got married. Every once-in-awhile, I get dressed in the dark and we drink beer, and we dance around the apartment and laugh.

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

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Anthypophora (an’-thi-po’-phor-a): A figure of reasoning in which one asks and then immediately answers one’s own questions (or raises and then settles imaginary objections). Reasoning aloud. Anthypophora sometimes takes the form of asking the audience or one’s adversary what can be said on a matter, and thus can involve both anacoenosis and apostrophe.

A: Am I the greatest? No. I’m just a little bit above average with a slight hint of genius.

B: What a crockarola! You’re a poster boy for less than average, if that. Is needing help paying the bills “above average with a hint of genius?” No. Is peeing on the toilet seat? No. Is losing the car keys? No. Is forgetting to pick our daughter up at daycare? No. Is spraying the garden with weed killer? No. I could sit here and cite examples of your loserhood all day long. What makes you think you’re “a little above average with a slight hint of genius?” As far as I can see you’re what people call “differently abled” when they’re trying to be kind.

A: Differently abled? No! No way. I guess you’ve forgotten about my giant rubber band ball? It’s bigger than a basketball and I’ve been meticulously adding to it for the past three years. I finished it last week and it looks great on the coffee table in the living room. Admit it.

B: Nope. It looks ridiculous.

A: What about the time I tried out being a nudist and went to the grocery store with no clothes on? I was front page news and was only fined $200.00. People still yell “Nudy Nudy” when they see me downtown. That’s fame. Is there a hint of genius there? Yes! What about the toilet paper holder I made out of a broom? You can’t deny it. Oh—what about when I got lost on our way to Maine and we discovered a whole new country called Canada? Or. . .

B: Ok, you win. You’re everything you say you are. Take your meds and shut up and I’ll turn on Fox News.

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

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Antimetabole (an’-ti-me-ta’-bo-lee): Repetition of words, in successive clauses, in reverse grammatical order.

I like my swimming pool, but my swimming pool does not like me. It fills with leaves, green slime and drowned mice. I bought a robot pool cleaner for $1,300, but all it does is bubble and ride around the bottom of the pool for hours before it automatically shuts off and I have to haul it in like a lobster trap. So, what do I like about my swimming pool?

My daughter’s 20-something friends! When they come over, they all wear scanty swimsuits and lay around in loose postures when they’re done swimming, and I take pictures with my iPhone. Sometimes they play volleyball on the court alongside the pool. I watch from my living room with binoculars, or I take videos from behind the pool house. You might think I might be a pervert, but I don’t think I am. If I was a real pervert, I would look at the pictures and videos all the time, in solitude, spinning fantasies. Instead, I hardly ever look at them, and I have friended all of my daughters friends on Facebook!

I have two Facebook pages—one the real me, the other, the fake me. I like the fake me better than the real me; fake me has 1,023 followers. Fake me is a 27 year-old test pilot for the US Air Force. Real me is a fifty-eight year-old computer programmer. I wear glasses, am overweight, and have a high-pitched voice. Fake me is 6’2’ with a broad-shouldered muscular physique. My fake me name is Captain Flash Bateson. I photoshopped my head (without glasses) over ‘Flash’s,’ using “youthification” software to make me look in my late 20s. When I log on I’m a kid again, doing something meaningful with my life, even if my life isn’t doing something meaningful with me. Then it happened.

My second wife (of three) Carmen found Captain Flash Bateson. She said he reminded her of a young version of her first husband, Marty Oswald. That was me! I couldn’t block her or she would know that something was up, so I decided to play along. Everything on the page was fake, except my cellphone number. The second I realized this, my phone rang. Trying to talk in a low gravelly voice, I answered. It was her. I told her I had retired from the Air Force and that I was terminally ill—my voice started to squeak as I told her I was bedridden and would probably die next week. She said: “My God. Marty, is that you?” I said “What? Who’s Marty? This is Captain Flash Bateson laying in bed waiting to die.” She hung up.

I liked fake me so much more than real me. Facebook had liberated me—freed me every night from dumb-ass Marty the computer programmer. I changed my cellphone number and booted up my Captain Flash page. With 1,023 followers, there there was surely somebody there to talk to, heaping praise on me for my service to our country, my bravery, and my good looks. It may be fake, but it beats being Marty. I got my first message in seconds. It was from “Fleshy MaMa”—a new admirer. I looked at her profile picture: Holy crap! It was Carmen when she was 25, before she turned into a fatty and started dying her hair bright red. “How’s it hangin’ Big Boy,” she asked. “A little to the left Golden Buns,” I answered, getting ready to fly into the wild blue yonder.

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

Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99.