Free Falling

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BOB WOELK
My sister sent these to me. They are either every writing teacher’s dream or nightmare, depending on whether that teacher happens to be a glass-is-half-full or glass-is-half-empty kind of person.

Even if you’ve read them before, and even if they aren’t really from high school students, and even though I shouldn’t get paid for this column because I didn’t actually write these (Hey, it’s summer, OK?), they are worth reading.

Actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays:

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.

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 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, Grandpappy 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 all want 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. “Oh, Jason!” she panted, her breasts heaving like a college freshman on $1-a-beer night.

23. 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.

24. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

25. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

26. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

27. She was as easy as the TV Guide crossword.

28. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.

29. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

30. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

Haven’t had enough? The following, allegedly, are actual post-interview excerpts collected from middle managers who, needless to say, probably did not hire any of the people mentioned here. They come from the Web site cybersalt.org:

1. “Applicant stretched out on the floor to fill out the job application.”

2. “She wore a Walkman and said she could listen to me and the music at the same time.”

3. “A balding candidate abruptly excused himself. Returned to office a few minutes later, wearing a hairpiece.”

4. “Applicant asked to see interviewer’s resume to see if the personnel executive was qualified to judge the candidate.”

5. “Applicant announced she hadn’t had lunch and proceeded to eat a hamburger and french fries in the interviewer’s office-wiping the ketchup on her sleeve.”

6. “Stated that, if he were hired, he would demonstrate his loyalty by having the corporate logo tattooed on his forearm.”

7. “Interrupted to phone his therapist for advice on answering specific interview questions.”

8. “When I asked him about his hobbies, he stood up and started tap dancing around my office.”

9. “At the end of the interview, while I stood there dumbstruck, he went through my purse, took out a brush, brushed his hair, and left.”

10. “Applicant pulled out a Polaroid camera and snapped a flash picture of me. Said he collected photos of everyone who interviewed him.”

11. “Said he wasn’t interested because the position paid too much.”

12. “During the interview, an alarm clock went off from the candidate’s briefcase. He took it out, shut it off, apologized and said he had to leave for another interview.”

13. “A telephone call came in for the job applicant. It was from his wife. His side of the conversation went like this: “Which company? When do I start? What’s the salary?” I said, “I assume you’re not interested in conducting the interview any further.”

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