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Writing Bad Analogies

14 June, 2009
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A friend sent me a list of analogies said to be the work of students. As an ex-teacher, I found them so gloriously bad that I was suspicious. As usual, I got onto  Snopes, the best place to check out urban legends, weird emailed political ‘facts’,  fauxtography, scams and frauds, etc. The analogies were from contests run by the Washington Post in 1995 and 1999, where readers were invited to create ‘painfully bad’ analogies. Here’s some of them. The Snopes site can link you to the rest.

  • His fountain pen was so expensive it looked as if someone had grabbed the pope, turned him upside down and started writing with the tip of his big pointy hat.
  • After 15 years of marriage, sex had become an experience devoid of genuine excitement and emotion, like when you’re stuck in traffic trying to get downtown on the Fourth of July and have to listen to the announcer describe the fireworks on the radio.
  • The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
  • The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can.
  • 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.
  • The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
  • McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
  • 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 p.m. instead of 7:30.
  • Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
  • Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
  • Bob was as perplexed as a hacker who means to access T:flw.quid 55328.com\aaakk/ch@ung but gets T:\flw.quid \aaakk/ch@ung by mistake.
  • Her date was pleasant enough, but she knew that if her life was a movie this guy would be buried in the credits as something like “Second Tall Man.”
  • 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.
  • The thunder was ominous—sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.
  • His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
  • The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.
  • The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for awhile.
  • “Oh, Jason, take me!” she panted, her breasts heaving like a college freshman on $1-a-beer night.
  • 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.
  • Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
  • She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
  • It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before.
  • The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  • 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.
  • The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium.
  • It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
  • Her lips were red and full, like tubes of blood drawn by an inattentive phlebotomist.
  • He felt like he was being hunted down like a dog, in a place that hunts dogs, I suppose.
  • He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
  • She was as easy as the TV Guide crossword.
  • Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any PH cleanser.
  • She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
  • Her pants fit her like a glove, well, maybe more like a mitten, actually.
  • She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
  • It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
  • A branch fell from the tree like a trunk falling off an elephant.
  • Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a ThighMaster.
  • The painting was very Escher-like, as if Escher had painted an exact copy of an Escher painting.
  • Her breasts were like two mounds of flesh waiting to be compared to something. Something round. Perhaps some kind of citrus fruit.
  • He was as bald as one of the Three Stooges, either Curly or Larry, you know, the one who goes woo woo woo.
  • The sardines were packed as tight as the coach section of a 747.
  • Her eyes were shining like two marbles that someone dropped in mucus and then held up to catch the light.
  • The sunset displayed rich, spectacular hues like a .jpeg file at 10 percent cyan, 10 percent magenta, 60 percent yellow and 10 percent black.

The following were considered to be too good to be placed in the ‘bad’ section:

  • 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.
  • He regarded death with hesitant dread, as if he were a commedia dell’arte troupe and death was an audience of pipe-fitters.
  • The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
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