Fast, yet gentle, like a something somthing.
August 28, 2018 9:38 AM   Subscribe

I need a good simile to complete the phrase "...be fast, but gentle, like a ___________." I work at an art school, and I'm making an instructional handout on how to use our vacuum forming machine. Here's one in use (not my school). There's a sliding tray of heating elements and they get knocked loose if handled too roughly. We tell students to be careful with it, but then they usually go too slow and let their plastic cool down. Speaking extemporaneously to a large group, I came up the instruction to be "Fast, yet gentle, like a friendly ninja." We've been trying to come up with a better phrase ever since.

Some considerations:

--The largest share of the audience will be first-year college students.
--We have students from a wide variety of backgrounds, and more than a few international students.
--We're looking for something that suggests speed, care and attentiveness, competence, and is not overly gender- or culture-specific
--I'm adding a lot of graphics to this handout, so I'd love it to be something I could turn into an icon.

"Like a friendly squirrel" has been suggested. I feel that squirrels lack to the focus to succeed on our vacuum former.
posted by hydrophonic to Writing & Language (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Hummingbird?
posted by Empidonax at 9:40 AM on August 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


Gazelle?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:41 AM on August 28, 2018


Rollerskating waitress/waiter
posted by rollick at 9:44 AM on August 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


Mother cat?
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:44 AM on August 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Like slicing a tomato! Can't do it too slowly, because moosh. Can't do it too forcefully, because moosh.
posted by wellred at 9:46 AM on August 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Hmm, maybe like a border collie? Or other herding dog?

It's not just that you need to be fast and gentle, but also deliberate and intentional about the action you do make.

Border collies have to be speedy, to get the sheep rounded up.
But they also need to be gentle, because a sheep's no good if it's hurt.
And they're always moving purposefully toward their end goal, with minimal wasted movement.
posted by phunniemee at 9:47 AM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


like a farmer rolling an egg cart
posted by typify at 9:51 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's a bit like making bubbles isn't it? Wave the wand too harshly and the soap film breaks, waving it too slowly the bubble won't form.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:56 AM on August 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Like a spy defusing a bomb

or a pediatric emergency veterinary surgeon

or a mohel (circumcisionist)

or a prom rejection
posted by craven_morhead at 9:56 AM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Fast but gentle, like frosting a cupcake
posted by mike_honcho at 10:07 AM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Stealing something from a sleeping dragon? Or Indiana Jones and the bag of sand (...that ultimately sets the giant boulder rolling so maybe not the best example)
posted by Fig at 10:17 AM on August 28, 2018


Like shaving 5 minutes before you need to leave.
posted by coppermoss at 10:23 AM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


“Like you’re rushing a bird to the emergency room”
posted by corey flood at 10:25 AM on August 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


Like a cheetah painting an Easter egg
posted by Krazor at 10:27 AM on August 28, 2018


Like you're making an ice-cream cone.
or
Like you're in a bucket brigade
posted by rollick at 10:31 AM on August 28, 2018


Vegetarian cheetah.
posted by protorp at 10:50 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Like you're in an egg and spoon race.
posted by FencingGal at 10:56 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Like shaving 5 minutes before you need to leave.
posted by coppermoss at 1:23 PM on August 28 [+] [!]


I think ", like shaving" has it, without the extra words. Shaving is easily understood, even by non-shavers.

Personally, I think "friendly ninja" is good too.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:56 AM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Like rushing to class with a mug of hot coffee
posted by aimedwander at 11:08 AM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Like a mama elephant.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:09 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Like an EMT getting a patient into an ambulance?
posted by cgs06 at 11:16 AM on August 28, 2018


I also really love friendly ninja!
posted by chatongriffes at 11:16 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


"be fast, but gentle, like taking a band-aid off a baby"
posted by matrixclown at 11:18 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Like a parent changing a stinky diaper
posted by donnagirl at 11:29 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Like you're cracking an egg
posted by yeahlikethat at 11:39 AM on August 28, 2018


Like pulling out a filing cabinet.
posted by rollick at 11:48 AM on August 28, 2018


...laying down a sleeping baby
...stacking cakes
...poaching an egg
posted by jraz at 12:15 PM on August 28, 2018


I feel like your word choice could be better. Smooth? Quick? I'm stressed out by the instruction to be fast and gentle and I'm not even in your class - those words don't really go together.

Have you actually had a problem with students shaking loose the elements through rough handling? Can you get a plastic with different specs that is workable at cooler temps or turn up the heating temp?

Can you just show them a video of what you want?
posted by momus_window at 2:03 PM on August 28, 2018


Are you looking for something clever or educational?

I think educationally, gusottertrout has the best analogy with making bubbles, but I'd go more with blowing bubbles. Its something everyone can relate to, we've all blown soap bubbles and you do have to blow fast and gentle at the same time. At its basic form teaching is just adding to the knowledge you have, so you always have to start with what you know and then connect it to the new stuff. Your icon could be a bubble wand or just a bubble.

If you're being clever, your ninja one is spot on.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:15 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Once when I got stuck in traffic and arrived a half hour late to a hair appointment , my hairdresser said, “Not to worry. I will move with cat-like precision.” That always stuck with me.
posted by oxisos at 2:21 PM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Like catching a butterfly.
posted by prewar lemonade at 2:45 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Like picking up a running puppy.
posted by pykrete jungle at 3:49 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


On our meeting this afternoon it was decided that we'll stick with "friendly ninja" on the handout. I feel that I should have had alternatives to present earlier. Thanks anyway, everyone! I'll be using some of these when I do my demos.
posted by hydrophonic at 4:09 PM on August 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


"Swiftly and smoothly"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:25 AM on August 29, 2018


This immediately made me think of laxatives, which I thought would have been everyone else's first thought, but .. apparently not so much. Anyway, "laxative" is not a great choice for this application, clearly.. but hopefully I wasn't the only one who thought of it?
posted by elgee at 8:01 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


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