Hey, everyone! It’s regular ol’ JD here. No, sorry, I do NOT know where Dr. JD or Professor JD are right now. You’re stuck with me.

It gets worse.

You’re also stuck with an old post, because the only things I’ve been doing lately are:

  • Bikram yoga
  • rehydrating
  • Wrapping Prudence up like a burrito (she likes it!)
  • Working
  • Wrapping myself up like a burrito because even tho it’s 80 degrees outside, regular ol’ JD is FREEZING, y’all!

Nothing really worth writing about, you see.

So please enjoy or ignore this post from the salad days of my blog. It may be over 3 years old, but I believe its message is as relevant today as it was way back then.


Comma comma comma comma comma chameleon
You come and go, you come and go


We Need, Commas.

There used to be a small grocery store in Evanston I walked by just to look at the display of giant turtles. You know, those slabs of chocolate and caramel and pecans too delicious to need a particular shape. These were especially huge—as big as a baby’s head and twice as scrumptious. In my heart, I knew I could eat five. But the handwritten sign under the display was unclear.

“Try one big mama.”

Now, are they saying that the turtles are big mamas and that you, the customer, should try one? Like, “Try one big mama and you will die of pleasure”? And did this mean I couldn’t eat five after all? In my confusion, my appetite disappeared, and I walked on.

A week or so later, I passed the store again, and the sign had mysteriously changed. Now it read

“Try one, big mama.”

Oho! So now I, the prospective customer, am the big mama, in which case, maybe I don’t exactly need to be eating giant chocolate slabs. Far too sensitive to admit to being a big mama, I once again passed up the delectable treats.

But my curiosity and chocolate craving brought me back. Again! The sign had changed!

“Try a big mama.”

OK, so now I’m fairly confident that the turtles are, indeed, the big mamas, not me. The next step: to actually go into the store and ask for a big mama. But what if I was wrong? Could I trust the sign after all these changes? Could I trust a vendor with such a shaky understanding of the all-important comma? I thought it safer to wait and see if the sign underwent any more changes, possibly the addition of an exclamation point.

The next time I passed the store, the “big mama” sign was gone and the chocolate slabs were replaced with fruit.

I hate fruit.

If you want to punctuate things:
If you want to skip the boring grammar lesson and join the Big Mama Club:


Delicious turtles came from here

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37 Responses to “I Punctuate Things . . . REDUX!”

  1. 1 Ron

    Yaaaaaaaaay you posted! I was wondering where you were, I’ve missed ya!

    “Wrapping myself up like a burrito because even tho it’s 80 degrees outside, regular ol’ JD is FREEZING, y’all!”

    You’re kidding? Oh well, I guess with all that 105 degree Brikham yoga, 80 degrees IS freezing – HA!

    LOVED the comma post! And being someone who has no idea where the hell commas go, I now see the importance of their placement, because it totally changes the meaning of a sentence.

    “The next time I passed the store, the “big mama” sign was gone and the chocolate slabs were replaced with fruit.

    I hate fruit.”


    Love you, girl!

    .-= Ron´s last blog ..A Time of Surrender =-.

  2. 2 Ron

    Excuse me, I can’t spell either…Bikram.
    .-= Ron´s last blog ..A Time of Surrender =-.

  3. 3 Stephanie Barr

    When people shrug off commas and the like as unimportant (as well as thank you’s and time spent just holding your baby), I’m always reminded of this quote by Demetri Martin:

    “‘Sort of’ is such a harmless thing to say. Sort of. It’s just a filler. Sort of – it doesn’t really mean anything. But after certain things, sort of means everything. Like after ‘I love you’ or ‘You’re going to live’ or ‘It’s a boy.’”

    Punctuation can do so much.

    She’s not underage you say.
    She’s not! Underage, you say?

    Totally different meanings, but then you knew that.

    I’m glad you’re working. I’m sorry you’re cold.
    .-= Stephanie Barr´s last blog ..Done With the Draft of My First Sequel =-.

  4. 4 Anne

    I love Eats, Shoots & Leaves and the chocolate turtles don’t sound bad either.

  5. 5 Stacie

    I’m new to your blog, and I must say, I LOVE it. It keeps me very entertained. Thank you.

    And, I love punctuation. I cannot stand when people don’t use it. I try to not get over zealous with commas.

    I think that’s hilarious that the sign kept changing. At least they finally got it right.
    .-= Stacie´s last blog ..Vomit- how I dislike you so much =-.

  6. 6 Lauren

    LOL! Poor punctuation diet.

    Years ago, I attended a luncheon where Lynn Truss was guest speaker. She was on a book tour for a subsequent book she had written on manners. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves is a great read. She signed my book. Unfortunately, my dog ripped the cover. I guess she isn’t fan of the comma, which frequently induces a coma from thinking too hard about comma placement. To this day, I still have comma issues. I think it’s because my mother was an English major.
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Are you Scribeaphobic – Afraid to Write =-.

  7. 7 Daisy the Curly Cat

    I think it should say “Try one big, mama.” Because big stuff is usually better than small stuff. Mama.
    .-= Daisy the Curly Cat´s last blog ..Cheesehead =-.

  8. 8 Kathy

    We wrap our kittehs like burritos too. Except do you have any tips for when the cheese falls out? They get a little messy.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Share Your Genius =-.

  9. 9 JD

    Ron: Aw, thanks for missing me! I’m trying. And you’re right — I hadn’t thought of it that way, but 80 degrees IS freezing now. (And Bikram/Brikham — who cares? It’s all torture.) I loved your comma post, too. They can be tricky little, buggers.

    Stephanie Barr: I love that Demetri Martin quote. And my favorite (trite but true) “why we need serial commas” example: This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God. Some parents!

    Anne: If you have to learn proper grammar, the best way is with a healthy dose of chocolate turtles, I always say.

    Stacie: HI STACIE! And welcome. Thank YOU. I’m glad they finally got the sign right but sad that, after finally achieving comma-correctness, they decided to do away with the big mamas altogether.

    Lauren: Oh, dear. Yes, an English major for a mom will do your head in. I’m a book editor, and I thought this blog was going to have much more to do with language and grammar and such. I guess unless you can cram in some candy, grammar isn’t very fun to read about.

    Daisy the Curly Cat: You got that right! Daisy. I’m surprised they didn’t throw in that variation. They tried all the others.

    Kathy: You have to tuck in the ends so no cheese drips out. It can be tricky. Use a tail or a paw if you have to.

  10. 10 babs - beetle

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha! The pain of not being decisive! I would have gone in and asked where those big mamas had gone – comma ‘n’ all ;)
    .-= babs – beetle´s last blog ..Going to a Rock ‘n’ Roll concert =-.

  11. 11 Lauren

    The CBS Morning Show just ran a segment on two Dartmouth grads who are called the grammar vigilantes. http://greattypohunt.com/
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Are you Scribeaphobic – Afraid to Write =-.

  12. 12 Stephanie Barr

    That is a hilarious example for quotes (Ann Raynd). I feel stupid. I know I’ve seen many poor common uses (probably wrote some), but I couldn’t remember any.
    .-= Stephanie Barr´s last blog ..Done With the Draft of My First Sequel =-.

  13. 13 Patricia (Will be embarrassed if there are typos in this.)

    I’ve had serious fights over the Oxford comma. Either is okay. I swear. My personal favorite is the classic: A woman without her man is nothing. (Add punctuation as needed for necessary results.)

    I was amazed that puncuation is no longer taught in schools, which rankles me. (Mostly I’m rankled because I had to sit through that boring crapola and so should everyone else.) I see a great deal more apostrophe abuse, however, which also rankles me. We have a shop downtown that (PAID FOR) a sign saying “Art Attack’s” (I totally want to meet this dude Art with the totally awesome last name Attack. Or maybe Art Garfunkel’s gone off the deep end in a series of horrible strangulations and the proof is behind a small town tat shop?) or the furniture store with “Demo’s Today.” Signage also professionally made–probably by the same company, perhaps? Do I smell a grammar conspiracy?

    Also, as a history major, the all too common 80′s versus the correct ’80s really bursts my buttons. And guess what? I spend a lot of time sewing on buttons. It’s also good that I possess this button sewing hobby, as my friends and family grow weary of me correcting the punctuation on their grocery lists.



    (Ptttth, Dartmouth.)

    So, punctuate, please, or Mark Twain’s ghost will haunt your being until judgment day. (You wanna start over the two spellings of judgment? Do ya, punk, da ya?)

  14. 14 absepa

    D’you think you’re freezing because you’ve become so acclimated to Bikram yoga temperature? And, if so, does the teacher eventually have to turn up the heat because everyone has gotten so used to being hot? I’m so curious about the whole thing. But not curious enough to try it.
    .-= absepa´s last blog ..Good night- dying of fright- get out the dynamite =-.

  15. 15 Will

    Well, a Big Mama, to me at least, is a variety of, (large sized), Roma tomato, grown in the heat, (of a Southern Oregon summer), and then wrapped, like a burrito of course, and served up for a late, late, dinner. What’s that about commas?
    .-= Will´s last blog ..Late Tomatoes and Early Pumpkins =-.

  16. 16 cardiogirl

    Love comma ambiguity!


    Comma Ambiguity
    .-= cardiogirl´s last blog ..The book of questions- Volume 110 =-.

  17. 17 JD

    babs – beetle: I wish I had. Now they are gone forever. And so is the grammar-challenged store!

    Lauren: HA! I love that they’re on a book tour, but less than pleased that they actually found typos in Chicago. I thought I had caught them all!

    Stephanie Barr: I’m sure I’ve contributed my share too, which is why I’ve shied away from doing a “real” grammar post. In the end, we can only suggest. People will do whatever they damn well want.

    Patricia (Will be embarrassed if there are typos in this.): Yes, I like that “woman without her man” example. As an American, I do have to draw the line at the serial, or Oxford, comma. I know the Brits consider it optional, but PLEASE! It’s not like it’s hurting anyone! Just pop it in there. You’ll make Professor JD so happy. And I feel the same about apostrophe abuse. They’re not decorations, people. Lauren (above) just posted a link to the Grammar Vigilantes. I agree: it CAN go too far, but a $3,000 fine??? For making much-needed corrections? Grrr.

    absepa: Your theory is an interesting one. It’s still pretty warm here, and I’m still wrapped up in a blanket. I thought I’d feel good getting into the 105-degree room on Sunday, but it felt just as awful as ever. I think a nice, sunny 80-degree beach will do me just fine. No blanket required.

    Will: Wow, your Big Mama sounds even better than mine. I’ll take two. Without commas!

    cardiogirl: I see what you did there.

  18. 18 Lin

    What is with all that burrito-wrapping going on over at your place?? I’m sure Pru is digging it being that it’s like 800 degrees this weekend. I kinda miss the fall weather now. :(

    I’m thinking there were more folks confused with that sign than just you and so they ditched it. Some folks just don’t know how to make a proper sign–just ask the asian manicure place by my house. Damn, those folks cannot make a readable sign if their lives depended on it. I swear I go in there just to read their signs and chuckle.

    I’m glad they were not referring to you as Big Momma because that is just wrong.

    Glad you posted again. I was beginning to wonder where you went!
    .-= Lin´s last blog ..Gone Splorin =-.

  19. 19 Patricia (is grumpy.)

    1. The Grammar Vigilantes need jobs, hobbies, and girlfriends.

    2. The Grammar Vigilantes need jobs, hobbies, and girlfriends.

    3. I didn’t see you up there, Lauren, sorry about that.

    We have a small tunnel near our home that has a sign that tells me that the county will pay $1,000 to anyone caught defacing the tunnel. I dream about catching someone do it…$1,000 pays for a lot of co-pays.

  20. 20 v

    hahah. you should have just dumped all the turtles or chocolate or big mamas in your bag and worried about who big mama was later.

    i had some chocolate chip cookies today and they were orgasmic. which is why i’m not allowed to eat at my desk anymore. chocolate is heaven sent. eat it.

    when you see food (or chocolate), take it!

  21. 21 v

    hey how is yoga working out for your back pain? you can email if you wanna or holla here. it’s your blog and you can holla if you want to. or drink milk. or do the hokey pokey.

  22. 22 C.B. Jones



    *writes puctuation is over rated on a wall*


    *adds a semi colon for no reason*
    .-= C.B. Jones´s last blog ..Mirror me back- buttah brotha! =-.

  23. 23 Margaret (Nanny Goats)

    See what happens when you walk by a sign too many times? POOF! Gone. Gone with the Wind. Heyyyyy, that sounds like a great name for a rock band. Or…something else maybe, I don’t know.
    .-= Margaret (Nanny Goats)´s last blog ..What’s the Hardest Phone Call You’ve Had to Make =-.

  24. 24 babs - beetle

    I bet they went bankrupt from putting commas in the wrong place on their cheques. ‘Cheques’ is being flagged by the spell check, so how do you spell the plural of cheque? Oops! ‘Cheque’ is also being flagged. It must be an English word then :)
    .-= babs – beetle´s last blog ..The Singing Pensioner =-.

  25. 25 Nicky

    Really, great, post, J, D. And, I, totally, agree. Sorry, I’m, a, little, commatose.
    .-= Nicky´s last blog ..He Enjoys Much Who Is Thankful For Little =-.

  26. 26 meleah rebeccah

    YAY! You’re alive! Im glad you posted! And, if it makes you feel any better, Im also freezing in 80 degree weather!
    .-= meleah rebeccah´s last blog ..Are You There- Internet It’s Me- Meleah =-.

  27. 27 kathryn

    So. Why is Prudence being wrapped up? And when she’s wrapped up, does the shape of her cocoon resemble a comma? ‘Cause that would be really kinda creepy…and yet, it would tie the whole theme together, don’t you think?

    I would never have entered that store with all those signage changes calling me names and stuff. Who calls chocolate Mama in the first place?

    You have very strange stores in JD-land.

    I hope you’re not running a fever. Take some vitamin C. And wear clean undies. Don’t question me…just do it.
    .-= kathryn´s last blog ..DragonSearch =-.

  28. 28 Alex Yong

    A friend once told me that the English language is like food – same ingredients, mix them around, and presto! You have either love it or it can make your mouth stinks!

    But I do love English language.

    Nice post here, JD.
    .-= Alex Yong´s last blog ..Go MOH and Make Others Happy Today =-.

  29. 29 JD

    Lin: I’ve been wondering where I went, too! Still wondering . . . Oh, can you PLEASE take some photos of those signs at the manicure place? I’m sure it wouldn’t seem rude at all. Really. It’s a little cooler today, so I bet Pru will quite enjoy being wrapped up like a burrito.

    Patricia (is grumpy): Mmmmm. Co-pays. I used to correct the notices put up in the hallway and elevator of my mom’s condo until someone put up a notice complaining about the person making the corrections. HA! (I corrected that one too.)

    v: You’re right. Because the big mamas and the shop are gone. I can never go back. Chocolate IS heaven sent and is intended for us to enjoy and possibly have orgasms over. Yes, TAKE IT!

    The yoga (and Rolfing) really does seem to be helping. Of course, I’m sore as hell after a class, but I think if I can go more often, it’ll ease up. I’m shocked that I’m even able to do some of the poses, much less find that they are helping. HOLLA!

    C.B. Jones: OK, but the Grammar Vigilantes are after you now.

    Margaret (Nanny Goats): Gone with the Wind. Hmmm. I think you’re thinking of Dust in the Wind. Now that was a great movie.

    babs – beetle: HA! You spell “check” as “cheque” but then in the same comment you spell “check” as “check”! You crazy Brits!

    Nicky: OW! Those commas are hurting my eyeballs! Make them stop!

    meleah rebeccah: YAY! Barely. I’m having trouble with this ol’ blog, but for now, I’m'a keep chugging away, even if it means slapping up old posts. What is it about this freezing 80-degree weather?

    kathryn: Clean undies: check. Y’know, Prudence DOES sort of resemble a comma when she’s in burrito form. Huh. I wrap her up because it makes her look delicious, of course! I really would love to know who decided to call a giant chocolate turtle a “big mama.” They were indeed big. But mamas? I doubt it.

    Alex Yong: Thanks! Yes, I have a sort of love-hate relationship with the English language. It really is like a giant combo platter of whatever.

  30. 30 Greg

    It just proves that bad grammar leads to better eating habits.
    .-= Greg´s last blog ..To Hell and Backlink and Burning in Hell =-.

  31. 31 Sleepless

    This is hilarious! Especially since I know I would have done the exact same thing. Being indecisive is a curse. This is one of the advantages of being blind though! I wouldn’t have seen the sign in the first place, which hopefully would have meant that I wouldn’t have thought of choclet at all, though there’s never any garantees when it comes to that. Seriously though, I’d like to know who came up with the bright idea to call a chocolate turtle a “big mama”. Bad advertising!
    .-= Sleepless´s last blog ..Happy Sweetest Day =-.

  32. 32 Kathleen Kaufman

    I think you should have gone into the store and angrily accused them of calling you a big mama, then demanded twenty-five chocolate treats to ease your pain.
    .-= Kathleen Kaufman´s last blog ..Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say =-.

  33. 33 JD

    Greg: HA! Yes, indeed it does. Another good reason to learn to punctuate properly.

    Sleepless: Yeah, I don’t get the whole “big mama” thing either. I mean, they were BIG, but “mamas”? I don’t think so. Welcome!

    Kathleen Kaufman: Dang, why didn’t I think of that?! But this whole episode actually happened years ago, before JD started taking over. SHE would’ve made a scene. (I am confused.)

  34. 34 tyka

    i always believe that it’s important to put comma(s) in a sentence where needed. because yes, it totally changes the meaning of a sentence! :D

    the big momma chocolate looks delicious :mrgreen:. i wonder where can i get one of those in my country.

  35. 35 connie

    Apparently some customers totally ignored the comma-challenge and just tried the big mamas. They must have been really good if the whole stock was wiped out within days. Naming your product in some exotic manner is sure a good marketing approach.

  1. 1 I Do Things So You Don’t Have To
  2. 2 Tweets that mention I Punctuate Things so you don’t have to . . . REDUX! at I Do Things So You Don’t Have To -- Topsy.com


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