Monday, October 27, 2014
Lately, several friends have taken up punctuation-shaming via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Most specifically, they're comma-shaming -- pointing an unforgiving finger at the wanton orgy some of us share with the comma. I'd characterize their tone as experiment-averse and downright scolding -- preaching a single path to righteousness by resurrecting the middle school horrors of subjunctive and subordinate clauses.
Because really, when it comes to punctuation, who hasn't done the naughty, and done it more times than they'd perhaps care to admit. And sometimes naughty proves to be ever so nice, in the moment. So I wanted to weigh in, share some personal experiences.
Starting in high school, the comma and I indulged in an on-again, off-again promiscuous relationship. And still do, if it's late at night and we're a shot or two to the better or worse. We're not proud of this, nor about waking up the next morning to face the damage -- remembering what it was we said and didn't mean, meant and never said, boundaries crossed and laws broken. We part, embarrassed, refusing to look each other in the eye.
"Thanks for an interesting evening," says comma. "I'll see ya."
"Not if I see you first," sez I. "But don't lose my number."
You'd think my steady might be upset. But you'd think wrong. Let me tell you about the em dash, my em dash, the ever-forgiving em dash. I'm a fan -- no, the groupie -- of the em dash. The dashing em dash with his sly smile, white t-shirt, ripped jeans. A pack of Marlboros rolled up his sleeve.
The em dash knows a thing or two about straying from the straight and narrow, and always takes me back, once he gets home after sleeping with my girlfriends.
Charismatic, enigmatic, often sweet -- that's my bad boy. He can make sense out of nonsense, and charm most anyone except the semicolon. The semicolon looks down his patrician nose at the em dash, but the semicolon looks down on everyone; just another reason why he can't seem to get a date on Saturday night. Even with the promise of high class champagne, no one feels comfortable popping that cork.
When em dash and I again cozy up together, and I feel in a confessional mood, em dash just rolls a spliff and grins. "You're over thinking this," he says. "You want to strut your stuff with the comma now and again, I don't mind sharing. Be wild and go crazy.
"I trust you, you'll always come back."
What more can I say, but -- he knows me.