Something happened when I turned thirty-six. No, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream didn’t immediately show up on my thighs ten minutes after I ate it. That happened when I turned thirty (and I’m still a little upset about it). For some inexplicable reason, during my thirty-sixth year comma usage became an enigma. As an English teacher, this is a huge problem! One day I could write a blog such as this and have commas placed perfectly throughout. The next day I had a run-on the size and incomprehensibility the likes of which you have never seen! It is like the comma disappeared from my radar or something. Oh I will throw one in here and there to make it look good but I am missing some pretty important commas in my writing these days and it is beginning to worry me.
It raises several questions: Why did this happen? Have I gotten so wrapped up in this instant-gratification, fast-food-drive-through-service, sixty-five-on-the-highway, text-in-an-instant, follow-me-on-twitter society that I now unconsciously skip over anything that might give me pause? Is it just me or do others suffer from this as well? As a society, do we have our cross-hairs set on this small, useful form of punctuation because the rules for its use keep changing on us? Is it possible for a society to kill off a form of punctuation much like a horror movie monster slays the buxom blonde in high heels? Will other punctuation become a problem as I get older? All of a sudden, when I hit forty will the question mark lose its purpose?
I don’t know if the problem is my own or just a reflection of a much larger societal issue. But doesn’t it always seem to start with the small stuff? Lose the comma, lose our ability to slow down and enjoy the little things. Is something so insignificant capable of becoming so significant it could change the way a group of people thinks? Or maybe I just need a good grammar refresher course.