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April 4, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

I Am Offended Beacuse – An Ode to the Exclamation Mark

I think you can tell a lot about someone by what their favourite type of punctuation is.

This might sound kind of airy fairy, but really, this is my very own column, and you must respect that it’s being written by somebody who checks horoscopes religiously AND somebody who is currently investigating ways to not be anywhere near Wellington in June, in case the Waitangi prophecy comes true AND somebody who had a great experience with handwriting analysis this one time in Venice Beach. In case you wanted to know, the loops on my letters-with-tails are indicative of a rapacious sexual appetite.

An old workmate told me that to get to know someone, you can either have coffee with them five times or get drunk with them once. It’s probably true because after this stage we shared four bottles of house sav and ended up being snapped dancing to Abba by our boss, who promptly rolled us a spliff with a friendly nod. Whenever my friend Phylli is trying to befriend someone she always asks what their favourite ice-cream flavour is. Dear readers, if you want to avoid alienating teetotallers or the lactose-intolerant, I suggest you ask your new almost-friends about their most beloved form of punctuation. And listen closely. The devil’s in the details.

A full stop fan will most likely be laconic and set in their ways. Don’t befriend unless you want your life together to resemble a Speights Advert. (Word of warning, if your new almost-friend favours ‘periods’ they possibly might have a menstruation fetish. Or they might be on exchange from Berkeley and eligible for arranged marriage/immigration fraud. Do a little groundwork to differentiate. Say the words ‘Moon Cup’ and watch carefully for your preferred response.) Those who are bewitched by brackets often have something to hide. Comma considerers always put you first, while semicolon celebrators are complicated and you’ll never know what to do with them. Ellipsis enjoyers are always looking for something better to come along. Quotation mark qualifiers don’t have anything original to say. Glorifiers of guillemets are pretentious. Ampersand admirers are clingy. You can’t win, unless you befriend someone who is enchanted with the exclamation mark.

Exclamation marks are brave and bold and they have something to say. They demand attention. Those who extol exclamation marks would never wear a black winter coat. Using an exclamation mark is the equivalent of wearing a really big hat. Or finishing your sentence with false eyelashes. They’re the patron punctuation saint of every rebel and every whistleblower and every activist who has ever been told to calm down or sit down or shut up. No! The exclamation mark cries! As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again! Exclamation marks know their cause is important, even if they’re only saying: “I bought you a hot chocolate!” There could be no sweeter bitch of the month than the altitudinous exclamation mark. There! Really! Is! No! Better! Way! To! Make! Your! Point!


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  1. Di says:

    Punchy post!

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