Comma Chameleon

comma.jpgOne sure sign of aging is when you realize the grammar rules you learned in elementary school are obsolete. I spent yesterday at Coffee Labs going over, for the last time, the manuscript for “What Size Are God’s Shoes? Kids, Chaos and the Spiritual Life.” The book should be out in June (Morehouse Publishing) and I won’t see it again until it shows up in galley form. But it was returned to me for one last look after the copy editor got her paws on it and electronically marked it up. Most of her edits were minor – she fixed words like “minivan” which I spelled as two words and ”Wiffle ball” which is capitalized since it’s a trademark and ”SpongeBob” which is smashed together.
Anyway, as I kicked back drinking a lovely cup of Columbian Mesa de los Santos** I was horrified to see how many commas she had hacked away. I’m clearly not au courant when it comes to comma usage. And I’d love to rub that in Mr. Grimes’ face! But that wasn’t all. There were other rules drilled into my head at Gilman School in Baltimore that no longer apply. I was taught that you spell out numbers through ten and then use the numerals for anything higher like 56. But noooo. You’re supposed to spell out numerals through one hundred. And if you end a sentence with something in parentheses you’re supposed to put the period inside (like this.) I was taught to put it on the outside (like this).

By the time the book comes out, I’m sure these grammar rules will have continued to evolve, and people will be wondering, “Why doesn’t he use very many commas?” Where’s Lynn Truss when you need her? 

**I asked Doug, the resident coffee roaster, about the name of this coffee which literally means “Table of the Saints.” He told me it refers to an area in Columbia that is especially suitable for growing beans that was originally owned and named by some monsignor.


2 Comments on “Comma Chameleon”

  1. sharon says:

    I am big into commas too. And I also put the “.” after the “()”, too! I was the copy editor of my high school year book in 1988 – I guess the rules have changed since way back then.

    JC and I can’t wait to read your book!

  2. Father Tim says:


    Being an 80’s kind of gal means you, of course, caught my Boy George reference in the title of this post. I’ll have to dig out my own 1987 HS yearbook to see where the editor put all the commas!

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