Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Comma Man or is it The Comma, Man...

Slowly but surely, we are working on cleaning out the store room in our basement. You know, the one that we couldn't get more than about 13 or 14 inches into a few weeks ago. Part of the job of cleaning it out included going through some boxes that we hadn't unpacked since we have lived in the house. Sure, it's been almost four years since we moved in, but I think the proper timeframe for completely unpacking is something like 10 years, so we're cool. I think I read that in Dear Abbey once...

One of the boxes I recently went through had been sealed shut for almost 8 years now, and I know it hadn't been opened because I am the one who sealed it, and I am the only person on the face of God's Green Earth who would ever want to look inside it. It held all of my papers, tests and other paraphernalia from my days at the University of Concordia-St. Paul, and we are quickly hurtling towards the 8th anniversary of my graduation from there. I thought it might be fun to save all my hard work so that a really bored Future Me could go through it and see what an awesome student I was at one time in my life. I did go through it, but it wasn't fun. The most fun was dumping the whole box in the recycle bin outside.

Going through all my old homework did bring back a memorable experience I had in one class, though. I'm not even sure what the class was, but one of our assignments was to write a short 2-page paper about something or other. After we had our first draft completed, we were supposed to switch papers with the person next to us so that they could critique our work before we started working on the final draft. I can picture the guy who I exchanged papers with, but his name, if I ever knew it, has escaped my brain. What I do remember is that, when I read through his paper, which was only a couple of pages long, remember, I found no fewer than 60 extra commas in places that didn't need them. Almost every sentence in the whole thing had at least one too many commas. I pretty much used up all the ink in my pen trying to scratch out all the superfluous commas I found. But what made it even more memorable was when he returned my paper to me, and I saw the 50 or so excessive commas he had added to my paper. He used a red pen, and it was like somebody had spilled red ink all over my nice, neat paper. His reaction to all of his scratched-out commas on his paper was just as remarkable...I'm pretty sure he thought I had some kind of deranged hatred for his beloved commas.

The truth is that I like commas very much, especially when used correctly. In fact, I think the comma might be my favorite punctuation mark of them all. But that doesn't mean it should be stuck all over the place for no reason. I am pretty sure I never saw the Comma Man again after that class ended. I wonder, what he did, with his life, and, if he ever, was able, to forgive me, for taking all, of his beloved commas, out, of, his, paper......
But only when they are needed...

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