They’re called “Tom Swifties.” Any of you out there know what I’m talking about? I’d venture to say that even the majority of my fellow baby boomers will be hard pressed to summon up that remembrance of things past. Classified as “Adverbial Puns,” they were all the rage circa 1963.
“Yes, I have read Gulliver’s Travels,” said Tom swiftly.
Certainly not limited to literary reference, the phenomenon impacted all areas of human endeavor…
“This is a picture of my new house,” said Tom, visibly moved.
“I’m not a crook,” Nixon said resignedly.
“I need an injection,” Tom pleaded in vain.
“Save the whales,” spouted Tom.
. . .
They were corny:
“Parsley, sage, rosemary,” said Tom timelessly.
They were catchy:
“My oar is broken,” said Tom robustly.
“We did it twice last night,” she relayed.
“I dropped the toothpaste,” signaled Tom, crestfallen.
Always clever, to be sure:
“That’s the last time I’ll stick my arm in a lion’s mouth,”
the lion-tamer said off-handedly.
And sometimes, just downright brilliant:
“Whenever I put on my scuba gear, I get pins and needles,” said Tom divertingly.
Or even MORE brilliant:
“I’m going to end it all,” Sue sighed.
It was worth the time to simply bring them back into momentary focus for your (and of course, my) enjoyment. My final word to you all regarding this shelved-too-early art form?
“Elvis is dead,” said Tom expressly.
LET THE SWIFTING BEGIN.