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The Exclamation Mark

From Southern Humorists Discussion


Leeuna Foster started the discussion on punctuation on the Southern Humorists’ discussion list when she innocently asked for comments on her latest column:


Hi SoHumers, Will Y'all read this and tell me if it makes sense? All comments are welcome. I need to know if this will do for my column next week.

Jason Offutt’s red pencil nearly twitched out of his hand and he instantly metamorphosed into a college professor:

Don't take offense at this, but I loathe exclamation points. I think there is no use for them in the English language. I tell my writing students if you're confident enough in the words you choose, you don't need exclamation points. I could go on, but ...

Ben Baker, a newspaper editor who likes nothing better than breaking rules, retorted:

WHAT! You don't believe exclamation points have a use!?! I use 'em all the time! I can't imagine writing without a few dozen of 'em scattered strategically across a page!!!! Besides which, nothing is completely useless. It can always serve as a bad example!

Mike Bay’s funny bone started itching and there was absolutely nothing he could do except scratch it:

Thanks, Jason; my exclamation key is now sitting in the corner, pouting (taking with it the '1' that I occasionally have need of hyar). I mean, it knows all about your grammatical expertise and gifts, and has just been told by a wizened English practitioner that it is "loathed", causing it severe self-esteem deprivation.

Anyone know how to cheer up a depressed exclamation point? I need the '1' key back...

Renee’ Barnes immediately jumped into the joke with both feet -- and without even holding her nose:

You could give him a pair of sunglasses [email protected]``@
and tell him he looks cool.
You could give him a long stemmed rose @)----^------
You could give him kisses and hugs XOXOXO
And, if all else fails, (_|_) moon him and make him laugh.

"Horsefeathers...I tried that's still running. I need to buy a new '1' key..." continued Bay.

In the meantime, Leeuna had what was either a hallucination,
a bad dream, or an alien sighting:

I think I saw your '1' key run past my house. It was screaming and crying...what on earth did you do to the poor thang? It was muttering something that sounded like 'Moon over Miami" as it ran past.

Renee was feeling regretful and decided to apologize... in punctuation:

MBay, I was so hoping the simple things would work. But...I was wrong, and it seems I made things worse. If you can find your exclamation point, please tell it I said...

O~ `Q``Q`~O
O~ { .U. } ~O
O~\ o /~O
c[[[[======= =====]]]]
| |
| ! |
c[[[[======= =====]]]]

Mike Bay, still the fastest draw in Colorado, at least with a number 2 pencil, shot out a funny finale:

Last I heard, it was running and screaming somewhere to the very East of here, seeking a place of affirmative emphasis where gifted writers don't diss the usage of it. Thus abandoned -- though I must admit, that 'rider of the Apocalypse' effort at cheering it up might have sent me running, had things been reversed -- I salvaged a new '1' key off my old keyboard. Talk about further deflating its' already trampled self-esteem by the ease with which it was replaced....

Nobody could top that, unless it was George Motz, who, as usual, was reminded of a story. He added his tale about having problems with punctuation other than exclamation marks.

All this big ‘to-do’ over an exclamation point! Just a tempest in a teapot, to my way of looking at it. So that minor punctuation mark is missing, or used too much or whatever! I attended a one-room country schoolhouse, when they could catch me to put shoes on me, up here in the wilds of northern Wisconsin, and while none of us were even eaten by bears or wolves, we didn’t have the best of educations.

Now do any of you know anyone else named George G. Motz? If you do, well, please contact me, or him! We are as rare as a Baptist at Happy Hour out at the Campground! Well, years ago, I was forced to legally use my middle initial, the G! Well, actually, the G. (note the period!) So what do I see on the cover of this newest book? My name, as George G, (Note the comma!) Motz.

So naturally, it not being my mistake, I feel, after all who puts a coma after a middle initial, I refuse to pay any part of correcting the mistake. Well, what happened next is what is perplexing me. I don’t know if they are going to correct the mistake or not! And I haven’t heard a single thing from my editor either. All I know is that in an exasperated tone of voice, she says to me, "I don’t see what all the confusion, excitement, and fuss is about. All it is is just a missing period!

Well, wouldn’t you be fussing, confused and excited if it was your period that was missing?" I shouted back, only to have her hang up on me! Still don’t know why? But check out Barnes & Nobles web site to see if they have corrected the error. This old farmer is too stubborn to check for himself!

Copyrighted (regardless of how ridiculous it may sound) Southern Humorists

Contributors: Leeuna Foster, Jason Offcutt, Ben Baker, Mike Bay, Renee' Barnes, George Motz
Edited by Sheila Moss with apologies to any who are offended.

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