Bad Analogies

Monday, October 16, 2006

Although it seems like this has been floating around for a few months, I cannot find any definite, original source for this. I found it very funny, though, so here it goes....

Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers throughout the land. Here are some last year's winners.
  1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
  2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
  3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
  4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
  5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
  6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
  7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.
  8. 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 machine.
  9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
  10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
  11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
  12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
  13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
  14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
  15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.
  16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
  17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
  18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
  19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
  20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
  21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  22. 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.
  23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
  25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
I am rather partial to #6, which is almost ingenious in a way. (HT: Mom)

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

I say give the teachers a raise.

Thanks for the giggle.

Gus Van Horn said...

Those teachers need their pay to increase like their blood pressure does after reading such tripe -- only permanently and without ill effect.

Anonymous said...

#10 doesn't seem so bad compared to the others. I notice a common element is that, for most of them, the nature of the analogy is in direct opposition to the subject matter. I.E. a pretty lady's hair and the analogy involving snot.

In the case of #10, there isn't really a contrast like that. It's just a little strange to think of why anyone would fill a garbage bad with vegetable soup and then drop it from a height.

Gus Van Horn said...

In the sense that it is probably a good description of what you would see, it isn't so bad.

But since we are comparing said bag to a human being and, the comparison is bad because of its dropping of that context to elicit a mere high school prank and (in my case, mild laughter). This is a description of a death. The metaphor fails as good writing (and makes the list) because it is cartoonish.

Unknown said...

They're strongly reminiscent of the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest, which calls for writing a bad first sentence from an imaginary novel. (The first collection of entries warped me as a teenager.)

Gus Van Horn said...


I'll post the one from when a fellow Houstonian took the crown:

"Paul Revere had just discovered that someone in Boston was a spy for the British, and when he saw the young woman believed to be the spy's girlfriend in an Italian restaurant he said to the waiter, "Hold the spumoni--I'm going to follow the chick an' catch a Tory."
--John L. Ashman, Houston, Texas

VERY Bad! Ed Wood bad, in fact!


Anonymous said...

"But since we are comparing said bag to a human being..."

Ahhhhhh, there we go. Thanks, I knew something was up with that.