Monday, February 7, 2011

322. It, is, time, for, some, punctuation

It happened again today. Well-meaning Sammi shows up on my doorstep with a small brown bag. I got very excited thinking it might contain vodka or at the very least chocolate but no such luck. “I have something for you MOV something you need.” She unceremoniously opens the bag and dumps some small black specks all over my front table. They look like dots of pepper.

“That is so sweet of you Sammi!” I offer with as much enthusiasm as I can muster. “But remember? I work at the high-end kitchen store so I can buy my own pepper.” I smile a fake smile. Why did she have to dump those all over the place? Queen Virgo will not be happy later.

“It’s not pepper!” she insists. “Why would I buy you pepper? I didn’t think you even knew how to cook anyway. No. They’re commas.”

Oh. Now I get it. Sammi is an editor and she's working on a project I dropped off to her. The last project she did for me came back covered in thick scribbled lines of red—like blood but only a little more vicious and painful.

“MOV I gotta tell you: you seem a little afraid of commas and I don’t know why! You need commas and they're not really that expensive even though they’re so valuable. That’s why I gave you this whole bag full. They’re extra ones that I didn’t really need anymore.” (Sammi is very smart and her latest crazy idea has been to take some night classes in Japanese. Probably Japanese is written without commas. That must be why she has all these extra commas.)

“Uh well okay then I guess.” I say defeated. “I’ll take them. Thank you.”

“Don’t just shove them in a drawer the second I leave …”

“Geesh Sammi I told you thank you. I promise I’ll use them!”

“Okay then good. I gotta run. Good luck with the commas.” She re-ties her scarf and heads out the door and turns back to face me. “I mean it then I want you to use your new commas!”

I scoop up the offending punctuation and take it all over to the dining room table. I spread it out and instantly regret it. Commas are everywhere. I now realize that I should’ve just taken them directly to my desk. A few stray commas have fallen on the floor and now the cat is batting them around playing with them like they were question marks or parenthesis.

Would Sammi really even notice if I decide not to use any of her commas I wonder. Nah. I think commas are dumb.

She should know by now that a lot of times I’m going for a whole stream-of-consciousness vibe and how can you really accomplish that with commas? No. You need “ands” and lots of ‘em.

I don’t want Sammi to think I’m not grateful because obviously her friendship means a lot to me and she is one of those people that will always help you in a pinch (plus I just enjoy her company and she makes me laugh a lot).


I dash off a quick email to her:


I just wanted to say thank you for the lovely commas, it was really, really nice of you to think of me, and I’m very, very grateful. They will come in handy, I’m sure, for a variety of uses, and I can’t wait to work with them!

Just so you know, I have plenty of question marks, apostrophes, semi-colons, and hyphens. It would be great to get my hands on some extra asterisks, though, if you have any, and I could especially use some $ signs. Lots of $ signs, maybe millions.

Your friend,


I know exactly what she’ll say: $ signs cost more, lots more.

MOV (“Money Or Valuables”)


  1. I can't wait to share this with all my English teacher friends. Hilarious!

  2. thank you, that is so nice of you to say!
    ps-I have a few commas left over that I can spare, so I am happy to give them to you, here they are, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  3. Here's some semi-colons I have laying around; I have no idea what they're used for.

    ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

  4. You must be flirting with me; all your semi-colons look like they're winking.


  5. ; sorry, something in my eye ; ; ;


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