Support International Mother Language Day. Use A Simile

Tuesday is International Mother Language Day, the day I celebrate the simile, my favorite comparative literary device. Metaphor, simile’s abrupt step-brother, provides decent bang for the buck, but like butter, similes are smoother. Not only do they help distill and express complex ideas. They’re fun language in which to frolic.

While similes mix within other writing as agreeably as spirits in cocktails, sometimes, like shots, they’re fun to take down entirely on their own. International Mother Language Day seems an apt time—perhaps the only time—to test my thesis, dear reader, on you:

  • Siobhan felt frustrated, like the disappointment that follows ordering award-winning chili at a diner without first considering if “worst-chili-ever” is an award.
  • Ella tried to relax at the workplace-offsite but, like hearing “Enter Sandman” at the outset of a deep-tissue massage, she knew something was amiss.
  • Finn appreciated his uncommonly good fortune, but like a man being pursued by a sluggish cheetah, he wondered when his luck would run out.
  • Liam listened to the job-share idea Owen proposed but, like a mime considering whether to attend a silent retreat, he sensed he wouldn’t get the most out of it.
  • Hope knew in her bones, as undoubtedly as anyone who’s ever considered naming a cat Clytemnestra, that just because you can do something does not mean you should.  
  • Casey’s mistake, like expecting legal services rather than fragrant soap from Gilchrist & Soames, was completely understandable but entirely wrong. 
  • Kate knew as surely as anyone who has opened a window during a drive-thru car wash that some limits on freedom were for the best.
  • Geri knew she had to correct Greg, who, like a symphony trombonist that didn’t respect personal space, did not know the effect his actions were having on everyone around him.  
  • Enlightenment hit Joe as unceremoniously as the moment a recreational bowler, unpacking for league play, realizes exactly why his bowling ball-bag seemed so light. 
  • Molly was open to Jack’s strange approach to studying for finals, but like playing Twister during flu season, she sensed at least as much downside as upside. 
  • After royally screwing up the presentation, Kaelan, suddenly as relaxed as a banker moments after scuffing his new wingtips on the curb, no longer felt pressure to be perfect.
  • Rex wanted to believe his girlfriend’s story but, as surely as “Cat’s in the Cradle” would make a poor Major League Baseball walk-up song, he knew that key details didn’t add up. 
  • Grace passed on the gas station sushi as confidently as a bride who’d concluded “Love The One You’re With” was a poor choice for a wedding song.
  • Caroline stood by the conclusion of her analysis, even if, like a mathematician who inadvertently proved two wrongs make a right, it wasn’t what she’d set out to accomplish.  

Would more frequent use of similes, not just on International Mother Language Day but every day, summon smiles and scatter scowls as gratuitously as unsolicited alliteration? As sure as death and taxes, I believe so. 

About Mike Kerrigan

Mike Kerrigan is an attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Charlotte Observer, and at Fox News.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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