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What Was That Again?

What Was That Again?

According to Oettle1, a Zen proverb says that “a good craftsman leaves no traces.” In good legal writing, the prose moves along so smoothly that the reader never stops to admire the writer’s skills. This is the ultimate goal—to focus the reader on the argument, not the writing.

It is refreshing to take a step back and reflect on the process of learning to write. These contributions by high school students2 remind us that it is not easy to create analogies and metaphors.

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a thigh master.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

She grew on him like E. coli and he was room temperature Canadian beef.

She had a deep throaty genuine laugh like that sound a dog makes just before he throws up.

He was as tall as a six foot three inch tree.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.

McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling bowl wouldn’t.

Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.

Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for awhile.

The ballerina rose gracefully on points and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

She was as easy as the TV Guide crossword.

The hailstones leaped up off the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across a grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 PM, traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 PM, at a speed of 35 mph.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids with power tools.

It hurt like the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River .

Even in his last years, grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

He was deeply in love when she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

Her voice had that tense grating quality, like a generation thermal paper fax machine that needed a band tightening.

1.  Oettle, K., “Transition by repetition”, New Jersey Law Journal, Dec 16 2002.

2.  Solares Hill, Key West, FL, Jan 3 2003.


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Filed In: Humor