At an Andrew Bird concert in Prospect Park, Brooklyn two summers ago…..the crowd of hipsters and mustachioed beer drinkers congregated around the instrumentation of whistling and suddenly I could not take my eyes off the shoulder blades of a human drenched in sun-tanned skin. At the bottom of her shoulder lay the most romantic and sexiest of exclamation marks. Titled: semi-colon and this is the one which separates two complete sentences or independent clauses. I later learned that it is also used as a symbol for those survivors of suicide. It reminds those who wanted to punctuate their end, by creating more of a continuation. It represents something on the other end…. I like that.
I think of my grammar as semi-colon. It separates two independent selves (probably more than that). It feels far more clear than woman or man.
I’ve got semi-colons sewed into all of my scars and perhaps one day I will make one of these period/comma combos more visible with ink, but for now, I grow deeply enamored when I see them. They are a reminder that sentences — like life — can continue even in the moments you thought you were done speaking or writing or breathing.
Recently, my pen pal gave me insight into a punctuation mark I was not familiar with. It is titled: interrobang.
Imagine surprise stuffed into a question wrapped in disbelief. What
I like the idea of emotion being birthed out of two shapes living inside each other. We interrobang all the time, though we often don’t speak with thoughts of punctuation at each sentence’s end. We also don’t announce it either.
“I cannot believe you never told me that, interrobang‽“
“You love me, interrobang‽“
To me, grammar is dirty talk. It turns me on to know others think about the construction of language as much as I or that they contemplate words as buildings. Scaffolded syllables. Welcome-mat’d words which desire feet to be rubbed into them before entering. It’s amazing to know the impact of these symbols, collaborating with our letters. Even in the moments I channel Gertrude Stein and let go of the question mark, the sound of it still exists……as does the exclamation…