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Dear Exclamation Point,
I know you're not a bad guy.
I know you just got caught up in the excitement of being well, you. I know you were just trying to do your job. I know, I know, I know …
But I am really sick of you.
I'm sick of how you needled your way from living oh-so agreeably on the peaceful Isle of Punctuation to being a manipulative bully horning his way into my every assertion.
I’m not sure how it all unfurled, but at some point, EP, you robbed us of our God-given right to simply reply to an email thusly:
Close any email like that and pretty soon, the torch-and-pitchfork crew will determine you're a rabid psychopath and in no time they’ll be busting down your door and hauling you off to Tar-N-Feathers-R-Us. Nope, a simple thanks isn't good enough anymore. Now it has to be:
Our every missive must include the implication that our lives are as happy as a goddamn fruit salad speckled with miniature marshmallows and maraschino cherries. Oh sure, we all know full well the whole miserable planet is about to implode and take humanity with it, but as far as this completely forgettable Facebook comment is concerned, the world is right as rain! That's right, mother effers! Everything over here is spiffy jiffy! We're all Well Adjusted! We wear clothing that Fits Properly! We have Good Breath! We're JUST FINE ALL THE WAY AROUND!
You used to be this sweet and spicy bit of punctuation, the thing I'd pull out reluctantly and then hem and haw over until I decided that, yes, it was time to add one crystal of your singular intrigue, whether it be surprise or excitement, to my latest offering. I was judicious with your usage, EP, but now I stare at some completely inane and negligible status update and dither over whether or not to terminate it with … you.
I've been subjugated by a goddamn punctuation mark. How does this even happen in the United States of America?
Because I am merciful and because I like you (Or am I just saying that to be polite? Maybe. Maybe not.), I'm not even going to bring up the terrifying interrobang, which should serve as a warning to you, EP. I'm not sure what that warning would be, but it's a warning all right.
You've been warned!
Is the land of punctuation like Flatland? Do all of you semicolons and en dashes and ampersands sit at the corner bar (please tell me it's called The Comma Commons) and listen sympathetically when Quotation Mark bemoans the trials of its usage being “hijacked” to “denigrate” some “random” assertion? Do you comfort Question Mark when he’s crying over never being able to find an answer? Or wax all dreamy when open parenthesis settles in to your right and closed parenthesis sits to your left?
I'll bet you're pretty full of yourself over at the “Comma,” EP. I'll bet you tell everyone how your most outrageous behavior was confined to the lowly Sunday grocery circular (Fall Freezer BLOWOUT! Thanksgiving SPECTACULAR!), for centuries until Mr. Gore’s Internet came along and now everyone cowers beneath your unmitigated power.
You haven’t won all the battles, EP. I scanned this week’s Meijer flyer and didn’t find you in there once. And I have about 350 jigsaw puzzles, but only two of them have exclamation points in the title.
Don’t get any ideas about new territory. Don’t be gassing on over at the “Comma” about how that, since you’ve vanquished email salutations and social media, your next conquest is every jigsaw puzzle title. I won’t have that on my back. Nope, not that.
The only thing I ever wanted from you, EP, was sincerity. I thought that if I minded my p’s and q’s, if I played by the rules, people would know that when I pulled you down from the shelf and plopped you at the end of a sentence, I meant it. The reader should take note! Our fearless Erin has used an exclamation point! Clearly there’s excitement to be had!
Who’d believe any of the tripe now? No one. You’ve stolen something from me, EP, but despite your new authoritarianism, you ain’t “all that,” you measly upside down lower case i. I’m done being your fool.
Don’t believe me? Just watch me end this post!
ps: Yeah, I know what the hell a factorial is, so just stop with the math wrath, buddy.
pps: Yeah, I used a lot of hyphens and questions marks in this post. What are you gonna do about it, EP? You gonna start something?
ppps: Yeah, I may or may not have authoritarian leanings of my own when it comes to exclamation point usage.
ppps: Yeah … just … um … yeah!
pppps: You ever help out the poor ol’ tilde? You oughtta do something for her. She might be a has-been, but you’ve gotta admit it: she’s got style.
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