07 August 2008

"john and mary had never met. they were like two hummingbirds who had also never met."

Dear all of you ~

After I've been writing for a while, invariably I'll wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, thinking, "What's a metaphor? Oh, no, oh no, oh no, I can't remember what a metaphor is, oh no, oh no, WHAT'LL I DO?!"

I wonder if this happens to anyone else, in any other professions. Do doctors awake and think, "What on earth is a fibula? What IS it? WHAT?!" Do bartenders awake and think, "I have no idea where Scotch comes from. Where?!"

Somehow, I doubt it. But such is the nature of writing, for me, at least, who clearly needs to sleep with a Dictionary of Poetic Terms under her pillow.

But I did remember what similes were this morning (relief of the highest order) as I was working on a poem, and trying to describe the ocean. It's a very difficult thing to do, to describe the ocean. For one thing, it's been done for... well, for forever. I was just having a conversation last night about "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Which, of course, reminded me that really good, timeless, brilliant poets (no matter the opium or the other influences) write about the sea all the time, and they've done it better and faster and stronger than you could ever do it.

And so, in lieu of posting the poem I'm working on, which is chock full of words like "delicate" and "linger" and "sluice" (I do like that last one), I thought that instead I'd do that fun little diversion in which you type the phrase, "[your first name] is like," in quotes, into Google, and steal all your favorites and wonder how you ever might have got to be like that. It's also wonderfully narcissistic, hilarious, and invariably--invariably--with the name Sally, you're likely to get phrases about people's favorite dogs ("Sally is like a tornado of fur and slobber") and their oldest aunts ("Sally is like a wrinkled old handbag"). I very much like my name, of course; I just happen to share it with lots Saint Bernards and octogenarians.

So, in no particular order and to avoid all the dumb ones, here are my favorites from the top twenty or so:

1. "Bonfires too are unyielding, unemotional and unresponsive; but neither 'Sally is like a bonfire' nor 'Sally is a bonfire' is metaphorically compatible with the original sentence." (A lesson on similes! This might actually turn out to be helpful, somewhere, someday!)

2. "What I really wanted to say is that Sally is like a Fiat Strada: she was handbuilt by robots." (AWEsome).

3. "I believe that Sally is like a Commanding Officer (CO). If a CO isn't strict, then your forces would fall into complete chaos, correct?" (Correct.)

4. "Sally's is like a transplanted Louisiana roadhouse, full of good music, good people and good food."

5. "Sally is like.... Dopeasaurus REX!!!!"

6. "Sally is like disco. We didn't like it when it was new, but we get nostalgic looking back."

7. "Sally is like the anchorperson in a relay race."

8. "Sally is like a ricocheting bullet, bouncing off walls and furniture and whizzing between my legs like a streaking comet." (I really hope that one's about a dog.)

9. "Sally is like Switzerland."

10. "Sally is like a fireman. She is always ready to go when the bell rings."

11. [An album title?] "Sally Is Like A Lucid Dream."

And, now, almost my favorite thus far, which is suitable for print. . .

12. "Sally is like the imaginary friend gone wrong."

Now, after that faux-exercise for creating similes, I'll go back to trying to generate them out of my own brain, and will stop starting every sentence with my own name. It's getting a little eerie, as though I'm one of those people who refers to herself as "The Queen." (i.e.: "The Queen prefers Junior Mints." or "The Queen would like you to shower.") No, I don't know anyone who does that, but I imagine that, one day, in the senior home, you'll find me saying such things.

And now you want to Google your own name, don't you? Go forth. Tell me what you find.

p.s. The title of this post is the epigram from a poem that's a new favorite of mine, recently sent to me by Hannah and Mamie, and we've read it back and forth so many times we have it memorized. It's genius, and hilarious, and I'm going to post it next, again to remind myself what a good simile is, and what one is NOT.


hannah said...

ok, just so y'all know, in a shop yesterday, sally and i are looking at coffee mugs with words/pics printed to add up to phrases. the word 'spring' hangs over a chicken to equal spring chicken.


sal goes, Oh look! Happy trailer!

happy TRAILER?? sure, sal :) and that's a sweet molar.

George said...

Okay, you're right... This was fun. :)

George prays and prays but it never seems to pay off

George is like, 'oh, bartenda... can I get a drank please?'

George is like my brother now.

George is like a channel suit, never goes out of style [sic]

George is like the Beatles without Lennon

Sunday in the Park With George is like a lovely trip to a museum that lasts 2 hours and 40 minutes. It was a bit too much art for me...

George is like the seventh cast member of 'Friends'

George is like any men that exist today, and also before in any time of history, who blames any other one (or finds in any external cause an excuse) for his own iniquity...

Knowing George is like knowing a team of advisors.

George is like fine wine: Not everyone drinks it, and it is an acquired taste.

George is like a suit or shirt that I once wore on occasion and until the end of my life people may see that shirt and mistake it for me.

George is like a friends old auntie. Both behave quite differently here than they ever did back in their days.

George is like, so over.

George is like a real live encyclopedia, one of those robot commentators from MST3K, and a rock star all at once.

George is like a fine wine intellectually and physically... I heard... I have never had fine wine so what the hell do I know?

George is like, come as you are and do what you feel like doing, ain't nothing but a party!

Charmi said...

Charmi is like... nothing.

Well, I'm not surprised.