Literally.

It’s spring in Florida, which means temperatures in the 90s, high winds, and no rain whatsoever. And that, dear reader, means wildfires.

Tonight, Interstate 95 is closed from Malabar, the town immediately east of us, all the way down to Vero Beach, some twenty-seven miles to the south, because smoke from the wildfires is making driving too hazardous. At least 100 homes were evacuated in Palm Bay and Malabar. More fires are burning up near Cocoa.

I watched the 11 p.m. news with interest, though not concern, since the fires really weren’t nearby. There was some really dramatic footage, though. The firefighters were praised for their heroism; I roll my eyes just the teeniest little bit when people who are simply doing jobs that are occasionally dangerous are called American Heroes with the kind of awe usually reserved for people who liberate people from slavery or spend their life in service to the poor or invent the light bulb.

Then our local newscaster got emotional. “These guys,” he said (and apparently no women have ever served as firefighters), “these guys have been working all day long! They have literally worked their fingers to the bone!”

I quickly glanced at the screen, hoping for some extra-special dramatic footage, or at least a photo of a bandaged hand, but they went on to a story about a local politician in trouble over something or other.

It could be worse, I guess. When Senator Clinton was in Iowa for the January primaries there, she praised the tenacity of the people who came to hear her speak. “We had 300 people outside literally freezing to death,” she said. (In fact, no deaths were reported. I smell a government cover-up.)

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Categories: Life in Florida | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Literally.

  1. indigobunting

    Oh, and the editor just laughs and laughs. Literally. Or is it my belly jiggling figuratively?

  2. Probably figuratively. You spend so much time on your NordicTrak, I doubt there’s anything jigglable on your entire body.

  3. our bushfire fighters are similarly lauded: but in their case they are nearly all unpaid volunteers and not infrequently pay the price for their giving: so it’s understandable that the Anzac spirit gets wheeled out. Of course it’s also notable that several firebugs have been volunteer firefighters…..

  4. The overuse of the word “literally” is one of my pet peeves. It was one of the weak, dead, forbidden words when I was teaching essay. When it was used, I would actually literarily have a fit. I would stop and write my fit on the board, word by word, stop, edit, re-write. I was a real bastard about it. Ah, the fun.

    It’s as though we cannot use figurative language without a disclaimer. WARNING: FIGURATIVE OR IMAGISTIC WORDS AHEAD. THEY ARE NOT TO BE TAKEN AS ACTUAL FACT AND MAY INCLUDE HYPERBOLE OR METAPHOR.

  5. And I’ll bet you took great pains to explain the difference between literarily and literally, too!

  6. I certainly attempted to do so. I would hope having the fit in a literary way would give form to the concept. But, as you can imagine, it was lost on most. A few got it and those are the same few who would have gotten it no matter how I had chosen to explain it.

    But they now have an image to carry with them anytime they wish to use the word literally to warn of an exageration being on the way when it actually means really. Maybe they’ll laugh while they find a better word.

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