“Hey Joe, you finishing up with that keyboard design?”

“Hello, sir, yeah. I put all the letters in fucked up positions like you asked.”

“Joe, I see you have a blank space here under the colon.”

“Garsh, yeah sir. I ran out of punctuation.”

“Ran out?”

“Yeah.” Shrugs. “I used it all up. I was thinking of maybe drawing a picture of a thumbs up or maybe a smiley face.”

“That’ll never work.” Shakes head, sips coffee. “What if we…now go with me on this. What if we made a new punctuation mark?”

“Make a new punctuation mark? You wanna play God?”

“Life is about tough choices, Joe. That’s what being a man is. I didn’t ask for it to be this way.”


“Now, what if we took the question mark and replaced the period at the bottom with a comma?”

“You mean, like a semi-question?”

“Sure, like how I ask my wife how her day was, or when I ask my kid what he wants to be when he grows up, you know, silly, inconsequential things whose answers I’m not really interested in.”

“What would you use the full question mark for?”

“The hard questions of course, like when you’re interrogating a prisoner of war, or when you’re making love to your wife and asking her, “Where’s the beef?”

“I suppose it could work.”

“Or…now just…now go with me on this. What if we replaced the bottom half of a colon with a comma.”

“A semi-colon? But what would it mean?”

“That’s the beauty of it, kid. It won’t mean anything.”

“Won’t mean anything?”

“I’m telling you, if we put this bullshit punctuation mark on people’s keyboards, they will find a way to use it.”

“Sir, you’re talking madness. People could come up with differing definitions of what it is and does.”

“Well, look at God.”


“Human beings have been assigning meaning to him for eons, all kinds of different meanings.”

“Yeah, and it has torn us apart as a species. And we both know people fear self-important grammarians more than they fear any wrathful deity.”

“You think it could really be that bad?”

“I can see a scenario, where in the future writing is done on magical machines that correct your grammar for you. And in this future, I see freshmen college students using this crutch. I see college instructors laboring through pages and pages of bullshit sentences all pasted together with semi-colons like some sort of grammatical Frankenstein monster.”

“Joe, it’s like I said. Part of being a man is making the hard choices. I’ve made up my mind. Put in the semi-colon.”

“No, sir. This is madness.”

“Put it in, or I will find someone who will.”


“You got kids right?”

Pauses, cautious. “Three girls…”

“Well, wouldn’t it be a shame if daddy disappeared? Wouldn’t it be a shame if little bits of daddy started showing up in packages on their doorstep, in their lunch boxes, in their cubby holes at school?”

Sweats cold.

“Get back to work, Joe; you’ve got a lot to do.”