Writing similes without following my simple, sensible rule is like something very similar.
This is from the second graf of Patricia Cohen’s “Shopping List: Tuna, Detergent, a Warhol” in the 10/5/2012 NYT:
Quietly and cautiously, like someone newly divorced returning to dating, Costco has begun selling fine art again after quitting the business six years ago …
Here’s my rule, which I’ve surely failed to follow many times: Avoid similes that make no sense when flipped, as in Quietly and cautiously, like a warehouse retailer that quits selling fine art and then starts selling it again, reporter Patricia Cohen is dating again for the first time since her divorce.
Let me be clear. I’m not so caught up in the pain of the end of my marriage that I can’t extend compassion to Costco. Losing a side business in fine-art sales is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you’re blown apart.
Music can help the hurt. Listening to it. Writing it. Performing it, even if only the dust bunnies are there to listen. My advice to Costco — or anyone grieving — is to strive for music as brave and naked as the great great great “Woke Up New” by the Mountain Goats. I don’t know a lyric more freighted with the complications of the real than “The first time I made coffee / for just myself / I made too much of it. / But I drank it all / just ’cause you hate it / when I let things go to waste.”