Different Drummer

More justifying that English degree

“Never let a fool kiss you or a kiss fool you.”—An example of something in this column you might have to look up.

To English instructors everywhere, this is my gift to you.

Once upon a time, a very nice, sweet, little lady who is occasionally wont to share with me her thoughts on this column, offered the opinion that she likes my “words and stuff” columns better than she does my political ones.

Fair enough, and quite sensible, that. And since I have been chosen to provide some of the entertainment at my 50th high school reunion this weekend (“you know, just remind us of everything that happened in 1969”), combined with the most convenient timing of a fellow lexophile’s having shared some cleverness with me has convinced me that the political science rant that’s been building inside me can wait a bit longer to emerge.

And that’s probably good, considering the number of folks that other one is apt to irritate.

Besides, I was never really adequately able to answer my late, but imminently practical when alive, father’s question of “what the hell do you plan to do with an English degree?,” so I reckon this could be considered another stab at it.

(In addition, you would just be amazed at what my requisite research is turning up. Did you know, for example, that 1969 marked the first time the “f-word” was ever said on American television? Do you know who is credited with having thrown that first televised fbomb?)

And, since those of us of a certain age learned—at least until the tests there upon—the figures of speech (I make no such assumption of those being “educated” at present.) and most of us are familiar with the genre of humor featuring various and sundry examples of living things walking into a bar, an intersection of those two things might prove surprisingly interesting.

You be the judge:

• The past, present and future walk into a bar. It was tense.

• A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

• Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

• An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

• A question mark walks into a bar?

• A hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

• A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

• Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Get out. We don’t serve your type.”

• A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall, but hoping to nip it in the bud.

• A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

• Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.

• A synonym strolls into a tavern.

• At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar—fresh as a daisy, cute as a button and sharp as a tack.

• A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.

• Falling slowly, slowly falling, the chiasmus (see above quotation) collapses to the bar floor.

• An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

• The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

• A misplaced modifier walked into a bar owned by a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

• A dyslexic walks into a bra.

• A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

• An Oxford comma walks into a bar, then it spends the evening watching the television, getting drunk and smoking cigars.

• A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

• A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

And finally, my absolute favorite: A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork and a syndicated columnist.

 

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