I used to work with a guy who was a dedicated user of dated similes. "She took to it like a duck to water," he said of his wife's foray into cooking. "...go together like peas and carrots," he declared of Elliot Smith and autumn. My grandfather probably used such phrases, and hearing them come out of a hip twenty-something designer's mouth never ceased to amuse me.
But then along came another hip twenty-something designer - a delightfully jaded curmudgeon like myself - who suggested it would be far more humorous if the similes were prematurely halted, leaving off the part of the comparison that makes the whole thing make sense. For example:
"She took to it like a duck to water" becomes, simply, "She took to it like a duck."
"They go together like peas and carrots" becomes "They go together like peas."
Yes? Get it? Now you try one.
"Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage" becomes "Love and marriage go together like a horse."
Excellent! Though that one is basically a slightly altered version of peas and carrots. Let's try another:
"Her voice was like fingernails on a chalkboard" becomes "Her voice was like fingernails."
"Running around like a chicken with it's head cut off" becomes "Running around like a chicken."
"Happy as a pig in mud" becomes "Happy as a pig."
Yes, you've got it!
Now, perhaps this doesn't seem particularly humorous to you. I can understand where this would be a "had to have been there" kind of thing. Which is why maybe you should try interjecting one of these (or one of your own!) into a conversation with an unsuspecting coworker. Then you will have been there and you can laugh along with me.
No fair explaining to your conversation partner. Just throw it into conversation like you mean it and watch what happens. (Tip: ones with animals are infinitely funnier. Especially ducks. Ducks are freaking hilarious. Way funnier than chickens. True story.)
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