five hundred sixty-two
“Sorry that took so long,” I said to my coworker after returning from my break a few minutes late. “There were five hundred sixty-two people in front of me at Starbucks. It took forever!!!” I was obviously exaggerating. My coworker knew that there weren’t exactly five hundred sixty-two people in line as Starbucks (five hundred sixty-three, including myself), but she caught my drift: there was a long line.
The delicate art form of exaggeration is something we all dabble in from time to time. (Don’t deny it, reader. You know you do!) There are several ways to achieve necessary dramatic emphasis, and exaggeration is one option. Fifteen mile-an-hour winds might be referred to as fifty mile-an-hour winds. A couple dozen people could easily become a hundred. A swarm of a hundred insects could be described as thousands upon thousands. You get the idea.
When I exaggerate numbers, I tend to stay away from the over-used general numbers: hundreds, thousands, millions. I prefer being more exact in my exaggerations. I couldn’t tell you how or when this preference developed but I’ve been using the precise number method for something like… oh, I don’t know… five hundred sixty-two days or so, give or take a day. (See how that works?) An actual number, random though it may be, makes the statement sound more legitimate, don’t you think?
Slight exaggeration 1: I left you five hundred sixty-two messages! Why didn’t you call me back, ya punk? (Usually said to my brother Charles.)
Slight exaggeration 2: There was a mosquito in my room last night and now I have five hundred sixty-two mosquito bites!
Slight exaggeration 3: I’ve seen that commercial five hundred sixty-two times and it still cracks me up!
Slight exaggeration 4: I could seriously use five hundred sixty-two more hours of sleep!
Slight exaggeration 5: Holy Coldness, Batman! The temperature just dropped five hundred sixty-two degrees! I’m freezing!
Ok, so I don’t use a random number anymore. I used to, but five hundred sixty-two has become my go-to number. It actually is a random number for me – I prefer odd numbers and there are two even numbers in there so the fact that I use it all the time is strange. But I can’t seem to get it out of my head. There are five hundred sixty-two this and five hundred sixty-two that… The little combination has grown on me. It is an important part of my attempts at dramatic emphasis.
Now Reader, I don’t want you thinking that all my based-on-actual-events blog posts are exaggerated or fabricated, because they aren’t. I’m only referring to those times when a slight exaggeration is necessary and that wouldn’t even amount to five hundred sixty-two times a day! A week, maybe… but not a day.