I'm writing a blog post about the impacts of an autoimmune disease. The sentence I'm trying to construct looks like this:

"The disease importunately follows me around like a god damn..."

I'm struggling to come up with something better than "... Puppy who lost his ball."

Any suggestions? The cruder, the better. A pop culture reference would be awesome!

I'm stuck.

  • I just thought out Richard Sherman on Michael Crabtree... But there has to be better out there. What does Kanye West follow around? Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 0:03
  • 3
    "...follows me around like it's my shadow."
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 0:33
  • Make something up. ... Like toilet paper stuck to your shoe.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 14:19
  • Yes. ' ... like a lost puppy' is in the wrong vein. ' ... like the plague' is ludicrously close to the actuality. ' ... like a bad smell' involves bathos. '... like the rats of Hamelin' might work, but I can't offer it as an 'answer' on ELU as it's unidiomatic (though I've found an example on the internet, and it's a transparent metaphor) (subset similes). Commented May 19 at 16:02

4 Answers 4


Though I would love to brainstorm with you about the crudest possible metaphors in private, I'll confine my comment here to how I would construct these:

  • Think of bad people.
  • Think of edgy, cool, or comical agents such as sharks or tax collectors.
  • Think of culturally relevant people (though your writing will age better if the subject is culturally relevant on a long term basis).
  • What are these people obsessed with, or negatively associated with in the media? Or what do they mainly do?
  • Who do these people love, harm, or hate? Where do these people find targets?
  • Can the target be adapted to a more comical form, such as changing "surfers" to "hipsters", "fish" to "baby seals"?
  • Additionally, consider anything that "stalks" such as predatory cats.

You will generate associations. Filter the associations for those that involve following. Pick one that fits your tone.

  • 1
    This was all great! Thank you for taking the time to write this all out. Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 18:32
  • Not focussed enough for ELU; writing advice belongs perhaps on Writing (though perhaps not focussed enough for there either) or a writers' discussion group. Commented May 19 at 15:53

I am familiar with "Follows me around like a teenager handing me a mask."

For your purposes Reprovingly would work but is almost antique.

reprovingly - in a reproving or reproachful manner; "she spoke to him reprovingly"

Reproachfully is only slightly better. I'm kind of getting away from how it follows and more towards how it makes you feel; Miserably, Pathetically...

How about Accusingly. There! That's it for me.


How about stalker? From M-W:

stalker: a person who stalks : a person who pursues someone obsessively and aggressively to the point of harassment

You example:

"The disease importunately follows me around like a god damn stalker."

Just to be clear, stalker is a metaphor for the autoimmune disease. You just can't make it go away. You can replace "goddamn" with a cruder adjective, if you'd like.


I've never heard of the "teenager handing me a mask" saying. But in Australia, we've always used: "Follows you around like a bad smell"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.