Fun with Similies

I love those email forwards that talk about central clearing houses of the worst of writing. Aside from the Bulwer Lytton award, though, I don’t know that they really exist. The following allegedly comes from English teachers, but I don’t buy that for a moment. For one thing, if a student wrote any of the following in my class, I’d be laughing my ass off, not sending it in as an example of bad writing.

Either way – enjoy. Some are almost as good as “he burst like a ripe melon within her.”

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

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.

She grew on him like she was a colony of E.Coli, and he was room-temperature beef.

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

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.

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 7:00 instead of 7:30.

Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

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Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Gennita Low says:

    “Glistened like nose hair after a sneeze.”

    OMG.  That was precious.  In fact, I had a good cackle at almost every one of those lines.  Must sneak one of them into my book, maybe two.

    Thanks for the morning laugh, Bitches!

  2. 2
    Chicklet says:

    My aunt emailed these to me a few weeks ago, and I was laughing *with* most of them, not *at* them, if you know what I mean. Depending on the story, these similes could actually work. God knows their descriptive enough and lacking cliche. *g*

  3. 3
    mirain says:

    “Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever. ” really sounds like a deliberate joke with language to me, as do several others.

  4. 4
    Cat Marsters says:

    Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever made me laugh out loud.  See, that’s clever, like a fox who’s been made Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.

    (Okay, I borrowed that one)

    Once when my teacher asked if we all knew what ‘eloquent’ meant, I explained it: “It’s when you’re really good at, you know, saying things and making them sound really good and, er, explaining and…okay, it’s what I’m not.”

  5. 5
    Miri says:

    I liked the hefty bag analogy! Maybe if it were organized differently, it would sound better.

  6. 6
    Lizzie (greeneyed fem) says:

    OMG, these are amazing. I’m not sure I buy that they’re not tongue-in-cheek (like, was the assignment to come up with a clunky simile?), but I almost don’t care because they’re so funny.

    The blind guy, the dog-laugh, the bowling ball, and the Hefty bag all made me laugh out loud—a deep, throaty, genuine laugh.

  7. 7
    Ginger says:

    I really admired the bowling ball one.  I thought it worked beautifully as humorous deescription.

    There were a few that didn’t make sense to me or seemed overdone, but I thought the bowling ball/boat thing was almost a P. G. Wodehouse level one.

  8. 8
    Ginger says:

    Shoot.  I can’t type.  “Description”, not “deescription”.  Sorry.

  9. 9
    BethanyA says:

    I need more!  Where can I find more!

  10. 10
    Annmarie says:

    The Hefty bag worked for me.  All made me laugh but the Hefty bag made me ‘see’.

  11. 11
    Suze says:

    I’ve seen these before, and I don’t think any of them are spontaneous student errors.  Funny, but not unintentional blunders.

    They fall softly upon my ears like a poop-filled diaper falls into a garbage bag.

  12. 12
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever made me laugh out loud.  See, that’s clever, like a fox who’s been made Professor of Cunning at Oxford University

    .

    And death and deprivtion stalk the land like two giant stalking things.

    The bowling ball one reminds me of early Douglas Adams for some reason—something about giant spaceships hanging in the sky exactly the way that bricks don’t, maybe?  I think for sheer volume of cheesy similies, though, you just can’t beat Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe.
    -Liz

  13. 13

    I suspect these propagate with the same epidemiology as most urban legends, with the original source obscured.  I know I’ve seen versions with the blind guy, the hefty bag and (I think) the Jeopardy one that actually predate the internet.  I think I saw some of these in a National Lampoon article in the mid-eighties attributed to an editor’s slush pile. . .  though that itself may not be the original source.

    life83?  Ok, maybe it was another magazine. . .

  14. 14
    Moira Reid says:

    I can believe it…I’ve sadly written a few of these gems myself. While not strictly a simile, I leave this as an example of one of my own attempts at comparison… (which thankfully never saw the final light of day)

    The warning sound in his voice did not seem like something he intended to stop her, or even to warn her. It seemed more like something intended to encourage her while letting her know that he knew this was a bad idea, and yet he wanted it to go on. (that is one multipurpose warning sound)

  15. 15
    shuzluva says:

    She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

    That made me snort soda out of my nose. Now I’m crying ‘cause it hurt so much.

  16. 16
    Stephanie says:

    The bowling ball one is wonderful. I laughed like a funeral director wouldn’t.

  17. 17
    Anj says:

    You can totally tell where some of these ‘kids’ had issues. Like just being made to sit through a presentation on the eclipse, or maybe being yelled at by their parents for the ATM surcharge, or maybe even a dog who throws up constantly. It’s great!

  18. 18
    che says:

    One simile in a book I read made me snort- from Susan Andersen’s Match Me if You Can
    {He}… watched his thumbs as they swept like windshield wiper blades from her outside curves to her nipples.

    But my fave is from SEP’s This Heart of Mine:
    The pit bull (actually a poodle) curled his lip, then stuck his pompon straight up, just as if he were giving Kevin the finger.

  19. 19
    Ocy says:

    The bowling ball one reminds me of early Douglas Adams for some reason—something about giant spaceships hanging in the sky exactly the way that bricks don’t, maybe?

    Yes!  I read that one and thought “My, someone’s been reading too much Hitchhiker’s Guide.”

  20. 20
    karmelrio says:

    {He}… watched his thumbs as they swept like windshield wiper blades from her outside curves to her nipples.

    Was this character supposed to be erotically inept?  DO.NOT.WANT.

  21. 21
    Nen says:

    He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree

    Probably wasn’t a good idea to take a sip of Pepsi before reading that. Does anything hurt worse than a carbonated beverage coming out your nose? I think not.

  22. 22
    MS Jones says:

    This is not student writing, but the results of a Washington Post “bad analogy” contest – more funny can be found here.

  23. 23
    SonomaLass says:

    Thanks, MS Jones!  I’ve had these forwarded via email several times, and I knew that at one point someone had pointed out that these were bad analogy contest winners, but I couldn’t find the reference.  I encourage everyone to follow the link, because the winners are freakin’ hilarious.

    Maybe I will sponsor a bad analogy contest among my students this semester.  Could be the most entertaining assignment of the course!

  24. 24
    SonomaLass says:

    Addendum:  following a link from the one MS Jones posted, I found the following:

    The following originally appeared as a list of winners in the “Worst Analogies Ever Written in a High School Essay Contest”, which was held under the auspices of Washington Post.

    So maybe it is student writing, but it’s unclear whether they were trying to write bad analogies/similes/metaphors or not.

    You can read more of them here.

  25. 25

    This seems to be the Washington Post article where these similies originated, but it’s behind a paywall.

    But this page looks like a direct reprint of the Post article, and it clearly says “we asked you to come up with bad analogies”—this was a Washington Post contest from 1995, and all of these bad similies were entries sent in by readers. (That page even credits most of them to specific people.) So, if they’re funny, that’s deliberate.

  26. 26
    God says:

    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.

    One too many visits to the school auditorium?

    She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

    *snicker* I am so glad I do not have her laugh.

  27. 27
    Elyssa says:

    I’m a high school English teacher, and if any of my students ever wrote a simile like this, I’d give them an “A”.  Hands down.  LOL.

  28. 28

    “Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.”

    BEST. ONE. EVER!

  29. 29
    aliciel says:

    Check out the winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Awards for more gems like these! Go to the local library and see if they have “It was a dark and stormy night…” and “The Bride of Dark and Stormy”, which are compilations of award winning entries. Yes, there is an actual contest to write the WORST opening line/s of a novel. ;P

  30. 30
    Laura says:

    I’ve seen these before…with variations.  So no, I doubt they are real.  On the other hand, there is another repository of truly awful writing, much of it in analogies, besides Bulwer Lytton.  The Bad Sex awards.  (The 2007 winner, plus a link to the shortlisted passages for the year here: http://www.womenofmystery.net/2007/11/bad-sex-award.html )

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