Steve Martin Essays For The New Yorker

The New Yorker, June 9, 1997 P. 110

SHOUTS & MURMURS about a shortage of periods. [The writer uses only one period at the end of this casual.] Representatives of the popular Times Roman font recently announced a shortage of periods and have offered substitutes--such as inverted commas, exclamation marks, and semicolons--until the crisis is overcome by people such as yourself, who through creative management of surplus punctuation can perhaps allay the constant demand for periods, whose heavy usage in the last ten years (not only in English but in virtually every language in the world) is creating a burden on writers everywhere, thus generating a litany of comments, among them: "What the hell am I supposed to do without my periods? How am I going to write?" Isn't this a terrible disaster? Are they crazy? Won't this just lead to misuse of other, less interesting punctuation " ...The magazine International Hebrew has offered this emergency statement: "We currently have an oversupply of backwards periods and will be happy to send some to Mister Brainard or anyone else facing a crisis!" period backwards the in slip you while moment a for way other the look to sentence the getting is trick only The The general concern of writers is summed up by this brief telegram: Period shortage musn't continue stop Stop-stoppage must come to full stop stop We must resolve it and stop the stop- stoppage stop Yours truly, Tom Stoppard Needless to say, there has been an increasing pressure on the ellipsis... Writer quotes a spokesperson for the font, who says, "... An ellipsis point is too weak to stop a modern sentence, which would require at least two ellipsis points, leaving the third dot to stand alone pointlessly--and, indeed, two periods at the end of a sentence would look like a typo, comprende? And why is Times Roman so important? Why can't writers employ some of our other, lesser-used fonts, such as Goofy Deluxe, Namby Pamby Extra Narrow, or Gone Fishin'?"... Consider the New Punctuation and Suicide Cult in Southern Texas, whose credo is "Why not try some new and different kinds of punctuation and then kill ourselves?" ... Remembering the Albertus Extra Bold asterisk embargo of several years back, one hopes the crisis is solved quickly, because a life of exclamation marks, no matter how superficially exciting, is no life at all! ...The shortage itself may be a useful one, provided it's over quickly, for it has made at least this author appreciate and value his one spare period, and it is with great respect that I use it now.

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Virgin No. 1: Yuck.

Virgin No. 2: Ick.

Virgin No. 3: Ew.

Virgin No. 4: Ow.

Virgin No. 5: Do you like cats? I have fourteen!

Virgin No. 6: I’m Becky. I’ll be legal in two years.

Virgin No. 7: Here, I’ll just pull down your zipper. Oh, sorry!

Virgin No. 8: Can we cuddle first?

Virgin No. 9: It was a garlic-and-onion pizza. Why?

Virgin No. 10: . . . so I see Heath, and he goes, “Like, what are you doing here?,” and I go, “I’m hangin’ out,” so he goes, “Like, what?” . . .

Virgin No. 11: First you’re going to have to show me an up-to-date health certificate.

Virgin No. 12: Hurry! My parents are due home!

Virgin No. 13: Do you want the regular or the special?

Virgin No. 14: I’m eighty-four. So what?

Virgin No. 15: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Virgin No. 16: Even I know that’s tiny.

Virgin No. 17: “Do it”? Meaning what?

Virgin No. 18: I’m saving myself for Jesus.

Virgin No. 19: Somewhere on my body I have hidden a buffalo nickel.

Virgin No. 20: Don’t touch my hair!

Virgin No. 21: I hope you’re not going to sleep with me and then go sleep with seventy-one others.

Virgin No. 22: Do you mind if we listen to Mannheim Steamroller?

Virgin No. 23: Are you O.K. with the dog on the bed?

Virgin No. 24: Would you mind saying, “Could I see you in my office, Miss Witherspoon?”?

Virgin No. 25: Ride me! Ride me, Lucky Buck!

Virgin No. 26: You like your vanilla hot?

Virgin No. 27: Does Ookums like Snookums?

Virgin No. 28: It’s so romantic here, dead.

Virgin No. 29: Well, I’m a virgin, but my hand isn’t.

Virgin No. 30: You are in?

Virgin No. 31: Hi, cowboy. I just rode down from Brokeback Mountain.

Virgin No. 32: I’m a virgin because I’m so ugly.

Virgin No. 33: You like-ee?

Virgin No. 34: I’ll betcha you can’t get an erection. Go on, impress me. C’mon, show me. Show me, big shot.

Virgin No. 35: By the way, here in Heaven “virgin” has a slightly different meaning. It means “chatty.”

Virgin No. 36: Sure, I like you, but as a friend.

Virgin No. 37: No kissing. I save that for my boyfriend.

Virgin No. 38: I’m Zania, from the planet Xeron. My vagina is on my foot.

Virgin No. 39: It’s a lesion, and, no, I don’t know what kind.

Virgin No. 40: I’m Jewish. Why do you ask?

Virgin No. 41: Hi, I’m Becky. Oh, whoops—you again.

Virgin No. 42: I just love camping! Camping is so great! Can we go camping sometime?

Virgin No. 43: In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m a single mom.

Virgin No. 44: You like my breasts? They were my graduation gift.

Virgin No. 45: When you’re done, you should really check out how cool this ceiling is.

Virgin No. 46: I’m almost there. Just another couple of hours.

Virgin No. 47: Get your own beer, you nitwit.

Virgin No. 48: No, you’ve got it wrong. We’re in the Paradise Casino.

Virgin No. 49: I really enjoyed that. Thank you very much. Gee, it’s late.

Virgin No. 50: You make me feel like a real woman. And after this is over I’m going to find one.

Virgin No. 51: What do you mean, “move a little”?

Virgin No. 52: Not now, I’m on my BlackBerry.

Virgin No. 53: I love it when you put on your pants and leave.

Virgin No. 54: We’ve been together twenty-four hours now, and, you know, sometimes it’s O.K. to say something mildly humorous.

Virgin No. 55: That was terrible. I should have listened to the other virgins.

Virgin No. 56: I think I found it. Is that it? Oh. Is this it? Oh, this must be it. No?

Virgin No. 57: It must be hot in here, because I know it’s not me.

Virgin No. 58: Those are my testicles.

Virgin No. 59: Did you know that “virgin” is an anagram of Irving?

Virgin No. 60: First “Spamalot,” then sex.

Virgin No. 61: Great! I was hoping for circumcised.

Virgin No. 62: Was that it?

Virgin No. 63: Dang. George Clooney was being reckless on a motorcycle, but instead I got you.

Virgin No. 64: Tonight, I become a woman. But until then you can call me Bob.

Virgin No. 65: They’re called “adult diapers.” Why?

Virgin No. 66: We could do it here for free, or on a stage in Düsseldorf for money.

Virgin No. 67: I’m just Virgin No. 67 to you, right?

Virgin No. 68: Pee-yoo. Are you wearing Aramis?

Virgin No. 69: Condom, please.

Virgin No. 70: My name is Mother Teresa.

Virgin No. 71: I’m not very good at this, but let’s start with the Reverse Lotus Blossom.

Virgin No. 72: It was paradise, until you showed up. ♦

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