The phone rang— I made an em-dash for it. A man was on the line. He said he had colon problems. I told him I was an editor, not a proctologist. He said that was swell, and he’d be right over.
He showed up at the office with a preposition for me. I said, is that a pen in your pocket, or are you happy to see me? He opened his coat to reveal his piece. A powerful little number but bulky. I asked him to put it slowly on the table so we could get down to work.
He hesitated, asking me for a quote first. I gave him two, telling him he’d need both for later.
Then he said he was ready to show me the colon. I saw right away he had a nice asterisk, but had to force myself to look beyond his dangling participle. It was totally out of whack, and I didn’t want to embarrass him this soon in the meeting.
Well, it turns out he was wrong. The colon was listing, all right, but it looked like the rest had been hit by a semi-.
I explained the clause of his troubles twice. He wasn’t getting it. “Do I need to draw you a diagram?” I asked.
I didn’t want to compound his frustration; he was a client, after all. I was just wondering how we could find unity on this, when we reached a conjunction. That’s when he hit me with the complement. “You’re the definite article,” he said, drawing me close.
Suddenly, our ellipse met… something I never would have predicated. It was like a spell.
And that’s when the grammar police burst through the door. Turns out, my client was wanted in three states for adverb abuse.
Quickly, suddenly, nervously, desperately, he pulled his piece on them. And that was all the evidence they needed.
Soon we were in a court down at the capital. It was an upper case. Things were tense, as we worried about our past, present and future.
Then the judge read the sentence.
The collective had spoken and there was agreement. Guilty as charged!
I tried to explain it was just bad comma, but I could see we were at an end mark. They threw the book at him. The sentence. It had us in fragments. We both suffixed terribly. In fact, we still suffix.
Because we were -ment to be together. And that’s all that matters.