Dear Omnipotent Poobah of Punctuation:
It has come to my attention that you and I are incompatible, to say the least. I feel that you have not lived up to my expectations, and I would like to file a formal complaint.
Sir, if the rest of the world is a sleek, finely-tuned sportscar, then you are a vegetable crate strapped to a rusty wagon.
Specifically, what I'm referring to here is the abysmal lack of punctuation choices available to the average English Language consumer these days. Years ago, the average EL shopper was content to purchase their punctuation at the local Mom & Pop store. People were more frugal, and no one really needed more than a few commas here, a semicolon there. Exclamation points were luxuries, and the ampersand was reserved for when one was confronted with a life and death situation where typing out "and" would result in someone choking to death on their chipped beef on toast.
Not any more. With our go-go lifestyles and super caffeinated workdays, consumer demand for low-priced punctuation as well as innovations in punctuation have increased tenfold. The first problem has already been solved- punctuation warehouses like "The Period Palace" and "Asterisks, Colons and Question Marks, oh my!" provide bargain pricing on bulk punctuation, and as we all know by now- buying in bulk is good for the environment too.
But where oh where, benevolent Poobah, where are our innovations? Where is our punctuation of the future?
I kindly and humbly offer a few solutions (patents pending):
Very often I find myself in the uncomfortable position of wanting to show a level of excitement in my writing that an exclamation mark cannot seem to fulfill. Sometimes I want to show a little excitement in a situation, but not too much because I either don't like the person very much but pretend that I do, or I'm worried my excitement may force them to call the authorities again.
And on the other hand, when my excitement is such that I am jumping up and down and squealing like a baby piglet on crack, I don't want to come off as too forward with an entire row of Exclamation marks. Somehow, it just seems pushy.
My solution is this- a simple <> (the universal signs for "greater than" and "less than") combined with your exclamation mark would denote either your half-assed attempt at pretending to care about someone's big announcement, or your diagnosis of "borderline personality" from your doctor.
Your co-worker has e-mailed you a picture of their niece's birthday party at the local ant farm, and you couldn't give a shit if you tried. An appropriate response would be, "Wow Gertrude, it sure looks like you all had fun < ! Or, your estranged uncle Buford has just won the lottery, but his newfound religion, "Destitutionism" prohibits him from material excesses so he is giving it all to you. Your response: "Thank you so much, Unky B- we are pooping our pants with excitement as I type > !
Another problem facing people today is the complete inability to punctuate properly. Years of pollution, toxins in the water and margaritas for lunch have reduced the parts of our brains that normally serve to help us write sentences without excessive or nonexistent punctuation to mush. Until we find a cure for this malady, a temporary solution is in order. Even I, a renowned monkey trainer and macramé artist, suffer from this affliction. I have struggled with the symptoms: What to do when you can't decide if a comma, dash or semicolon is needed? Do we just pick one randomly and hope for the best? Do we actually crack open a book or look up the proper usage on the internet?
Hell no! That would take too much time and we have a Parcheesi tournament at ten!
Instead, I propose another simple and innovative solution. Whenever one encounters a punctuation emergency of this magnitude, one should simply substitute my soon-to-be universally accepted symbol of "I don't know what the hell to put here so I'm using this."
A "generic" symbol, if you will.
I suggest: (**)
To me, (**) has a d'oh! quality to it, almost like a blank stare, and lets the reader know that you are painfully aware of your shortcomings as a human being.
Example: "When I went potty today (**) and before I dropped my drawers (**) I decided to paint clown makeup on my face (**) much like Giggles the hermaphroditic entertainer from Idaho.
Or: "It was fun, except for the one time it wasn't fun (**) you know (**) that one time when you got that thing stuck in your (**) you-know-what and the park ranger had to call in backup (**) you know, that one time.
Again, so very simple.
A few quick examples if other ideas I am currently working on:
- Any word starting in "A" can now be written simply as @. All of them.
- The word "and" is outlawed. & is king. All hail &. Disregard the above rule when "and" (from here on to be known as &) is being used- that would just be too confusing.
- Any sentence referring to water will be completed with ~~~~ instead of a period. Ditto for snakes, performing the "worm" while breakdancing, & mustaches.
- Any sentence written at night will be solely punctuated by asterisks, denoting stars.
- Sex, and all heterosexual sex acts, will be denoted by: t+o. Lesbians: o+o, gay men: t+t. Now, now. calm down. It's just simpler and much more sanitary this way, trust me.
- Rambling sentences will trail off with <<<, denoting when we all do that hand thingy when someone is talking too much and you're all like "blah, blah, blah" with your hands.