I admit: I like excessive punctuation. I am often quite liberal with my use of commas, parentheses (just to be a jerk), ellipses… and all other forms of fancy–and oftentimes unnecessary–word decoration.
However, despite my adulation for spare emoticon parts, I don’t think the Punctuation founders went far enough. How can anyone justify having only two possible endings for declarative statements? You can either choose the staid, buttoned-up period… or you can choose the doowop-dancing, likely-high-as-a-kite exclamation mark.
The difference between the two is huge. Let’s say you run into an old friend, Molly, at a rally to save the organic farming industry. You exchange email addresses. You get a message from Molly the next day: Hey, it’s Molly, blah blah blah, weren’t those organic, hand-shucked corn chips fantastic, and then:
Herein lies the problem: #1 is boring and matter-of-fact, while #2 is almost overly friendly. Perhaps it’s just me, but when strangers use an abundance of exclamation marks in emails, I immediately picture them as trippy cartoon characters: Hello! You’re great! Let’s meet up! I’m free at noon! See you then! I’m going to stick my head in the oven first! Toodles!
Can’t we have a punctuation mark which implies greater enthusiasm than the period, yet less enthusiasm than the gung ho! exclamation mark? Perhaps… the midget exclamation mark? Then, we can easily decode the following:
(But I’ll probably never see you again.)
(I think you’re the bestest and I want to be with you forever and ever and say things like “Hehe” even though it’s completely unnatural, but it’s okay because I love you.)
(I genuinely enjoyed my time with you. And I’m not crazy.)
Unfortunately, given our limited punctuation inventory, we still don’t have a mini-exclamation mark that can quell the burn of the period/exclamation. So, until someone figures out how to put a mini-exclamation on their keyboard (Bill Gates, are you listening?), I’m just going to stick with what I always do… mask my true feelings with never-ending sentences:
(And now I’m going to introduce a banal topic to continue this sentence so that I don’t have to let you know how I actually feel about seeing you.)
Honestly, I love the dash–