Saturday, May 10, 2014

Exclamation Points and Green Garbanzo Beans

I may not be the most punctual blogger, but I am the most punctuational. I can't stop myself from using commas. As de rigueur as it is these days to be a comma minimalist, I am old school and do what I was taught in my old school—place a comma between two independent clauses that are connected by a conjunction. I just can’t seem to shake it. Whenever I try, I see my teachers rolling over under their perfectly punctuated gravestones. But the same set-in-stone rule doesn’t apply to exclamation points. The only rule is discretion. Some loudmouths abuse this privilege by overexclamating; thereby, offending grammarians, librarians, and food-blogging authoritarians.

Why do some people use exclamation points when casually writing “hello,” while others save them for when their hair is on fire (which incidentally, is a little odd that they’re still typing while engulfed in flames)? Is the overexclamator a certain personality type? Do they naturally have more energy and joie de vivre, or is it merely an attempt at branding oneself as upbeat? Perhaps they are sincerely misguided in their inappropriate emoting, but I'm thinking there's a vast network of cokeheads in dank basements, and these exclamation points are cryptic cries for help. Betty Ford Center: take note. You could glean names for your mailing list by trolling punctuation marks.

Why all the hullabaloo over such a trivial point? An inappropriate exclamation point not only sets the reader up for disappointment by diluting its power when used again, it dumbs down the now. You might as well just dot your “i” with a daisy, make a paisley apostrophe, and call it a day. I’m not trying to be overly pedantic or semantic, but just as Gwyneth and Chris made a conscious uncoupling, I think people should practice conscious unexclamating. If you exclaim indiscriminately, it will ruin it for all the other exclamation points. 

Case in points from two Seinfeld characters:

Newman: Hell-oooo, Jerry.
Uncle Leo: Hell-oooo, Jerry!
Newman: Hell-oooo, Jerry!
Uncle Leo: Hell-oooo, Jerry!

See my points?

If you’re wondering what these grumblings have  to do with green garbanzos, I'll tell you. After spending 20 minutes at the store, meticulously picking out the freshest, firmest ones, I harrumphed myself home, only to embark on 40 more minutes of masochism, shelling the beans. Thank god for the tequila that miraculously appeared in my shot glass to lessen the pain. Note to garbanzos: I would like my hour back. You were fresh and lovely, but for the time spent, I could have given a TED talk, pontificating on the perils of overpromising through overexclamating. Instead, I got a cup of effing beans. Let me repunctuate. Instead, I got a cup of effing beans!


1 pot water
1 cup effing beans

Boil the effers for three minutes and enjoy (if you haven't already hung yourself).
Salt and eat like edamame, or do something else with them.

Maybe you could sautée the effers with broccoli, garlic, marjoram and pasta in olive oil. 

Wanna know more about green garbanzos? Be my guest. 

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  1. Couldn't agree more. I have a semi-colon addiction myself; very un-blog friendly but I can't help it.

  2. I think I am one of those overexclamators! Thanks for pointing that out! Now I'll have to totally and self-consciously reexamine my motive every time I use it!

  3. I do love me some green garbanzos, but I want someone else to shell them. It looks like you are really good at it, so I nominate YOU. Or YOU!!! (I have also become an overcapitalizer in the last 4 years of blogging.)

  4. OMG, are you talking about me!? See, I did it again. I even have a disclaimer about my overuse of them on my "about" page. I need help. ;-)

    1. valentina - i'm the SAME way. And if I don't use exclamation pts, I have to use emoticons and interject smiley faces anywhere. What is wrong with us!?!? How did we become so !!!!!!!!!!!!-y?

    2. Don't worry. You guys are fine. I wasn't talking about you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. What a GREAT post!!!!! Can't WAIT to try this AB FAB recipe!!! I'm sure it will turn out FANTASTIC & YUMMY!!! Sometimes I just can't help myself. ;-)

  6. OK, where do I get some of that magically appearing tequila? This post just goes to show you that being effing funny and demonstrating proper punctuation usage are not incompatible objectives for a thoughtful, albeit slightly less time-endowed, blogger. Well done...Adair.

  7. Oh... I like dots... are they the same as paisley apostrophes and daisy "i"s... I need grammar rehab... NOW!!

  8. I don't think punctuation (other than hyphens and dashes) are allowed on gravestones. I think it's a rule. Punctuation invites the devil. GREG

  9. How did I miss the punctuation/garbanzo bean post? I remember going out to the field to pick a ton of these effers in Italy when I was a little girl; we even have photos. Your posts are always such a joy, Adair. Love them! (<-oops!) ;)