At the Punctuation Prom, you know where everyone is making their mark. The favorites, the exclamation points, are boogying down in their excitement on the dance floor; the studious question marks query together around the punch bowl, but the discussion is dominated by the quotation marks; the colon leads the conga line; the apostrophes cling to their partners shooting dirty looks to others that say, “My date belongs to me.”; the commas scheme to bring clauses together; and the dance is chaperoned by the periods: they will be there to the end. But where, oh where, is the semi-colon?
The semi-colon smokes silently behind the gym. Confused and misunderstood, he questions his role in sentences. He wonders if he’s just superfluous and irrelevant; does he have a real purpose? He knows his stated purpose: to join independent clauses and set off elements in a series that use commas. He takes a long drag and slowly expels the smoke. But why can’t others see him, understand him, ACCEPT him for who he is? Why does everyone want him to be something he’s not? Why just yesterday someone used him in a sentence as a colon: “Lydia has three requirements for a husband; good looks, military service, and charm.” What part of semi-colon don’t they get? Why does his sign have to be so confusing? People can never figure out what he signifies. Because if he’s not thought of as a colon, he’s thought of as a comma. For example, the previous sentence would be: “If he’s not thought of as a colon; he’s thought of as a comma.” Don’t people know that semi-colons don’t separate subordinate and independent clauses?
But that’s what really stings, he thinks as he reaches into his jacket for his flask. He takes a swig, reflecting on the fact that those people who think they know him best are the ones who constantly mis-use and abuse him. They, in their arrogance, feel they can place him willy-nilly in sentences; they breezily think, “Oh, a semi-colon will do here.”
Was that special person out there? The one who would really understand him? The one who knew his potential? The one who would see his rhetorical greatness? Someone who would use him the way he wished, no, needed, to be used?
Someone who will use him a sentence connecting two independent clauses? “Jane looks for the best in everyone; Elizabeth judges too quickly.”
Someone who will use him to connect a series? “I have three favorite characters: Mr. Darcy, who strives to win Elizabeth’s heart; Elizabeth, who learns the error of her ways; and Jane, who teaches us all about the virtue of patience.”
Or that very special someone who will use him in elliptical constructions? “In Derbyshire, one can find a good husband; in Meryton, a soldier.”
As the music floats through the air, the semi-colon looks up at the stars, crushes his cigarette into the ground, and walks off alone into the darkness.