Metaphorically Speaking (Part One)

I hate metaphors.

Freshman year of high school, an English teacher — a stilted old lady whose face gave the gaping expression of either constant wonder at the world or (what I thought more likely) constant stupidity — had the awful habit of prefacing an unwholesome amount of her sentences with Metaphorically speaking…

I also happened to traverse a period in my life in which I read little aside from the works of Quentin Hobbes, who spoke almost entirely in metaphor. He was an author for children and young adults, and a pretentious one at that, but I’ve always leaned more toward the pretentious scope of things and spent my younger years drooling over his every word. Reading his books now give me an overwhelming since of nausea. The prose is unsophisticated at best, inane at worst. Metaphor stacked upon metaphor, wedged between other piles of metaphors.

I hate metaphors.

When Tommy Lee and a few friends from Hilo High died in a car-crash on the bend of the country road that moseyed up and down the side of the mountain — all that stood between our whimsical town and the real world of America braving the twenty first century with a vulgar sort of mettle — the grief counselor came to give a talk to our whole school. His lips dripped with metaphors and euphemisms, all of them flat, flapping like cardboard in his mouth.

Similes have never bothered me quite as much.

Personification, sure.

I hate metaphors.

When I tell people I hate metaphors, once they get passed the expression of initial bewilderment A. at the fact that I hold any sort of stance with regard to a rhetorical device and B. that the stance is tinged with a sort of personal vendetta against said rhetorical device — once they have gotten passed all of that, they have the tendency to watch me more carefully, as to catch me red-handed with a metaphor coming from lips or pen, like that will prove something.

I hate metaphors.

The world is an ocean, they tell you.

The world is a stage, they tell you.

The world can be whatever you want it to be.

But I know better.

The world is what it is.

Metaphor or not, there’s no changing it.

I am a junior in high school this year. Three things happened this morning to confirm it.

  1. I had my first class under the dictatorial reign of the legendary Mr. Montgomery, the only teacher at Seger High who ever lives up to his notoriety.
  2. Our whole class spent the earlier half of the day excused from our first few periods so that we could sit on the creaky bleachers of the school gym while a college counselor paced back and forth between the free throw line and half court, playing coach. He spoke delicately to bleary-eyed teenagers about the opportunities that awaited them and the importance of taking seriously courses, tests, whatever other shindigs universities wanted from us nowadays.
  3. I received my first ever disciplinary slip and rumor has it junior year is the year when it all goes to the dogs, rule wise. I’d always imagined my first detention would be for something radical and respectable. Yelling at a teacher. Punching Derek Milano in the nose. Setting a book on fire. They got me on gum-chewing.

I am writing this instead of scrawling down math notes.

Turns out, junior year is when it all goes to the dogs.

“What’s that, Tracey, your diary?” Derek Milano asks, which is silly because I am writing on graph paper, and scribbling formulas around the edges, so his remark is too idiotic to be insulting.

“Stamp” Tracey, they’ve called me since elementary school. For Derek Milano, it’s always Tracey. He revels in the two-faced nature of it, as surname and bi-gender name. He thinks himself clever, telling me every year without fail to audition for Hairspray next spring.

Because of his most recent dull-witted attempt at a joke, Ms. Tannebaum (who evidently is a direct descendent of a Christmas tree) is looking over at me. The lenses of her glasses flash in the light so that her eyes look like two miniature, gold-swept suns.

I still do not know why they call me “Stamp”.

The quadratic formula is calling. Didn’t we already learn this?


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