Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tangled in the Eyes of a Mixed Metaphor
I am a great fan of the mixed metaphor. Especially when I'm on a crunch to finish a manuscript and need some serious distraction (like now). There’s something so fresh, so invigorating about blending two wildly disparate bits of description. Oh, the visions that arise. The provocative new understandings of our world.
“You’ve buttered your bread; now lie in it!” (Jiminy Cricket.)
Sometimes such phrases slip from one’s mouth unintentionally, craftily created by the subconscious. (You’ve got to wonder about the subconscious. Methinks they’re sleeping giants ready to explode.) One of my faves blurted from a friend of mine during a discussion of a decision she faced: “But that would be putting the cart before the egg.”
How profound. Can you envision the scene? The little red cart, the bridle lines, the dragged egg, now worn and cracked? 'Tis the ultimate picture of poor planning.
Then there’s this one: “I’m going to stick my neck out on a limb.”
“If that were true, why are such sanguine voices shrugging it off?”
“This job is a real albatross around my neck.”
“Yeah, yeah, but an open mind can be a double-edged sword.”
“That’s a lot of baggage for a sitting duck.”
Other times mixed metaphors slip into writing—and unfortunately, past the editor’s eye.
In the chasm between them, his belated apology made not a single dent.
The bonfire of his desire could not quench the fear in her heart.
In the sea of life, there are many crossroads.
Hey, even Shakespeare managed a mixed metaphor: "... take arms against a sea of troubles."
When I need some serious procrastination, I’ve been known to make up a few mixed metaphors of my own. In fact, such pursuits can entertain me for hours. (Somewhere along the way the budding wires of my emotional development must have knitted when they should have purled.)
The tracks of her empathetic tears cemented their friendship.
That politician is too lame-duck to take this hot-button bull by the horns.
Her cheeks blossomed with color, erasing the fire in her eyes.
He’ll take you down a rosy path, then turn it on its head!
That white elephant in the family living room is the ball and chain of his existence.
The stain of his guilt sank talons into his soul.
The sputtering engine of his wild choices hung him on the wrong side of the fence.
A diamond in the rough can’t afford to spit into the wind.
Okay, enough already. I’d better cut this off or I’ll be at it all day. The call of my manuscript gestures for my attention. And the weight of my responsibilities smoke-signal me back to work.
Oh, no, too late. A caravan of mixed metaphors now sails through my head, lifting me to greater nonsensical heights. I ride the wind of their Siren song, drift their ocean of tempting word morsels. Their magnetizing power pulls the rug out from under me. I am awash in their blazing hypnotism, captive to the tide of their fiery darts, crushed beneath the heat of their—
Agh! Fingers of panic scream at me to stop.
Somebody. Please. Help.