One mother of a metaphor!

Patrick Ercolano

March 13, 1991|By Patrick Ercolano

WHILE THE LEADERS of the anti-Iraq coalition discuss a post-war agenda, one permanent fixture of the New World Order already has been set.

It's a metaphor. The mother of all metaphors.

The metaphor is "The mother of all . . . "

Saddam Hussein -- remember him? -- first brought it to our attention before the Persian Gulf war when he predicted that Iraq and the coalition would clash in "the mother of all battles."

This was the start of the singularly gruesome poetry of Iraqi threats made before and during the fighting.

I recall driving home one night early in the war and hearing an Iraqi statement on the car radio, something about how the coalition forces would become food for jackals. Or maybe it was buzzards. Whatever, it had a lot more pizazz than anything our military briefers were saying. You have to hand one thing to Saddam and his gang: They may not have been military whizbangs, but they could dish out the scary rhetoric with the best of them.

Even U.S. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney borrowed the metaphor when he sneeringly called the fall-back of Iraqi forces "the mother of all retreats."

Then there was the recent news report of a huge fireball being sighted over the northeastern U.S. and labeled by a pilot in Pennsylvania "the mother of all meteors." And a returning Desert Storm soldier reportedly yelled, "The mother of all parties is about to begin."

Well, why not? Once you find a good, meaty metaphor, you can't help but sink your teeth into it. For instance, when a torrential downpour comes this summer, we can call it "the mother of all rainstorms."

Or if Jim Palmer had made the Orioles' starting rotation, we could have talked about "the mother of all comebacks."

Or when some clergyman wins the Priest of the Year Award, we can hail him as "the mother of all Fathers."

The possibilities are limitless. Make up your own "mother of all . . . " phrases. Swap 'em and trade 'em with your friends.

It's fun. It's really fun.

It's the mother of all fun.

L Patrick Ercolano is the mother of all Evening Sun reporters.

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