February 2020, Cancun, Mexico

Many of these short pieces were inspired by prompts from various writing groups. I shouldn’t mention that—who wants to read someone else’s homework? Anyway, here’s something I will write 30 years from now on my deathbed.

My tombstone better not have an M-dash or a hyphen. Date ranges use N-dashes (option-hyphen on my Mac):

1950–2050

N-dash

Commas? Like Michael Jackson’s “Songwriter, Singer, Producer, Dancer, Choreographer, Humanitarian, Jackson 5 member, Soloist, 13 #1 Singles, 13 Grammys, 197 Awards & 37 Top 40 Hits”? Please. And, if you must, please use the serial comma (once called, incorrectly, the Oxford comma):

0 Awards, & 0 Top 40 Hits

But the grammar book I’m currently reading orders us to always use the serial comma—except after an ampersand.

Periods? Why? This is not a sentence: “Songwriter, Singer, Producer, Dancer, Choreographer, Humanitarian, Jackson 5 member, Soloist, 13 #1 Singles, 13 Grammys, 197 Awards & 37 Top 40 Hits.” But this has an appropriate note of finality:

Lee.

Apostrophe? Sure! Why not. Self-referential, full of himself, like the guy buried below: 

Lee’s Tombstone

Question mark? (Ha! Self referential!) Are these really my ashes or did the crematory just scoop up some random debris:

Lee?

Exclamation mark (what the nuns called “exclamation point”): 

Lee!

Like a Broadway show from the golden age. I loved Broadway. Mostly Rogers & Hammerstein and Sondheim. Oklahoma!

Semicolons? I liked ‘em, and used too many (doing my bit to postpone their complete disappearance), but jeez.

Colons? Yeah, I finally died of colon cancer. Like dad. After all those fucking ever-more- frequent colonoscopies, with upper endoscopies thrown in for the hell of it.

Assorted brackets? Replace ‘em all with parentheses. Like LISP:

(but ((dead Lee)(lives LISP)))

Scare quotes? After the Trumpence court outlawed gay marriage in 2040, gangs of Trumpanistas scoured the homeland. One of their myriad activities was correcting tombstones, in my case chiseling in scare quotes:

BELOVED “HUSBAND”

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