Monday, February 20, 2006

One Metaphor Required

I am in need of a metaphor.

Here's the scenario:

I have just been on a ship for 15 days. My port of departure was in Germany. The container ship lands in Cape Town, South Africa. My mission is to spend the next four months going north to Cairo by public transportation. I get on a shuttle bus and go to the container port gate, where there is high security. I have all these giddy expectations--a feeling of excitement, an expectation of a romantic moment when I set foot on the continent of Africa for the first time. I'm Stanley, I'm Livingstone, I'm Speke, I'm... oh, a gal with a backpack entering a modern city but still, I'm in f*ing Africa!! How cool is that! I was on the bridge on approach and the western cape is lovely and awesome.

And here goes, the big first step...

Then, I have to get a guard's attention. He's behind a gate and some kind of security glass. He makes a smart remark and buzzes me in. It's like... what is it like? Going to the DMV? No. Going to the bank? Not really. Going to a shop on Avenue A back when the East Village was famous for crime?

I need something completely mundane to contrast. What is it like? Someone help me out here. I have metaphor-block.

A simile would be good too.


Anonymous said...

a swiss bank
bio hazard unit
bill gates's house
berkeley high school
little kids playing 'security'
the rare books room at powells
backstage at a who concert
your paranoid-neighbor-survivalist's house

need any more?

Anonymous said...

how about...

The intensive care ward (no more than 2 people at a time, family members only)

The KFC in Southeast DC, the one with the bulletproof glass carousel -- you send your money around, they send your food back to you

hmmm... similes?

"It's like the moment when you were a kid enjoying (and believing in) a cheesy science fiction movie when you suddenly realized that you could see the wires that were making the 'monster' move--the movie was still wonderfully cheesy, but you could no longer believe that it was magic."

No, that's not it, either. Hmm... this is harder than it looks...

Anonymous said... trying to sneak John Wayne Gacy into a Cub Scout meeting.

...Like trying to get Barbie out of the damn packaging on Christmas morning so you can give it to your 3 1/2 yr old neice.

...Like trying to give Idi Amin his own cooking show. Jim Shooter trying to get into a Marvel Editorial meeting (now I'm dating myself). trying to get Hillary to go hunting with Cheney.

Sara Kocher said...

So you went from exploring a vast new continent to entering an Upper East Side condo building?

Or maybe it was more like going to a jewelry store?

I'm trying to think of common places where you get looked over and buzzed in if you're not too seedy or dangerous-looking.

Linda said...

Like a temp arriving at a big-city office.
Or a deliveryperson at an apartment building.

Marie Javins said...

"I'm trying to think of common places where you get looked over and buzzed in if you're not too seedy or dangerous-looking."

That's exactly what I'm meant.

It is kind of like being buzzed into an office building as a temp.

Actually, you know what it's like is like being buzzed into the pawn shop that used to be on the ground floor of my building on Avenue B. But that's way too obscure. And I can't remember now why I had to go in there that one time. I think I was looking for change.

Even going into a bodega on Avenue B in 1992 is too obscure. Sigh.

A lot of the earlier comments were not what I was looking for but were certainly amusing! "Cooking with Idi" YIKES!

Steve Buccellato said...

I like "buzzed into the pawn shop that used to be...Ave.B" because it sounds seedy and mysterious. The reader is forced to imagine the circumsances. It doesn't matter what they really were. better not to know, in fact. I don't think it's too obscure--we all know what a pawn shop is like, from movies if not real life.

My 2 cents..

Anonymous said...

what about

it's exactly like buzzing into a high security swiss bank except that it's dirty, with barely functional outdated overbuilt technology. And it fills you with the everpresent feeling that you might be thrown, forgotten, into a 3rd world prison.

Steve Buccellato said...

Most readers haven't been to a swiss bank, though.

Anonymous said...

it's like being in africa and knowing you are from new jersey

Anonymous said...

i would have expected an elephant at the port to pick up my luggage (backpack) and hoist me atop his back to start the journey north.

so what you got was a reality check...

kinda like instead of riding on water you had it thrown in your face

Anonymous said...

ummm. we haven't seen a lot of things - but we have enough cultural information to project what it would be like...

I think it's safe to say that if you asked most readers what they think a swiss bank would be like, they'd venture a guess and it would be pretty consistant with the other guesses.

Anonymous said...

I'd think most readers have been to a swiss bank.

Marie Javins said...

Before everyone gets in a fight over Swiss banks--which I agree that all of my Swiss readers have been to--the most mundane uninspiring experience I could think of that involved being buzzed in to a place behind plexiglass was being buzzed into the pawn shop under my Avenue B condo. I only went in to get change as this was before I was broke all the time, although these days I might have different reasons for going in.

So it's done, and thanks for a lively and entertaining discussion.