I ran into a high school friend today. I recognized her because she and I are facebook friends, and because when you look at someone for five years, you get pretty familiar with her face. She had her three year old with her, I had my two with me. We chatted very briefly about things — I know most of what’s going on with her because, again, we are facebook friends — and then moved on.

Later I got a message from her, telling me it was great to see me!!!!! and she hoped I would have a great summer!!!! and I scanned the message and then debated replying and then replied, to be polite, and then I looked at it again and realized that the first sentence ended in five exclamation marks and the second ended with four.

I want to know, now, how people go from one exclamation mark to five. If one exclamation mark is intended to indicate a level of excitement slightly greater than you would get from simply ending the sentence, then surely two would be enough to indicate that you are excited beyond that first flush of excitement. And if two says you are beyond excited, does three say you are over the moon with delight? And then, four. Four exclamation marks, to me, says you are making a joke about how many exclamation marks you are using.

But five. You went all the way to five exclamation marks. Just because we ran into each other at the mall.

I’m not being as snarky as you might think, here. I honestly want to know a) how she decided to go to five exclamation marks and b) why she stopped there. Once you’re at five, why not six? Eight? Nine? Nine is my favourite number, I would pick nine.

This is what a sentence looks like with nine exclamation marks at the end!!!!!!!!!

There is no way to ask the question that doesn’t result in a de-friending, and I don’t want to de-friend, so I won’t ask, but I will continue to wonder.

9 thoughts on “Thirty-Seven!!!!!!!!!

  1. Arwen

    I trade a lot of email. Many exclamation points are definitely a thing, now. No full stops at all. I wonder if it roughly corresponds to the time that you hold the smile in your head while typing the punctuation???? (THE QUIZZICAL PERSISTS.)

    Or maybe it’s an ellipses with a smile.

    I have to be careful with my exclamations these days – it’s like an accent that it’s easy to slip into. And sometimes I feel like I *should* use exclamations in profusion: I don’t want to be the flat-affect responder.

    I first noticed my own typed accent after Dooce. Remember? When everything. Was. Emphasized. Through. Sentence-Fragments.

    1. branch Post author

      “The Quizzical Persists” haaaaa ha. I know what you mean about being a flat-affect responder. It’s like if you wear no makeup and stand in the middle of a crowd of people with lots of makeup. Who’s the freak!

  2. L.

    Three exclamation points is my absolute limit, but I only go there if something very exciting has happened. Like, if you said you were visiting Pittsburgh, I’d probably say OMG!!! But see, there, that’s three. That’s the limit. I’d stop at two but I don’t like the number 2.

    In eighth-grade grammar we were taught not even to bother with a second exclamation point because it’s the equivalent of saying you gave 110% of yourself. There is no such thing as triple-exclamation.

    But then again! I just got an email from a writing center person that included FOUR QUESTION MARKS in the subject header. So there is such a think as quadruple-questioning, I guess?

  3. Nicole

    Sometimes I put three exclamation points, but then, I’m that kind of person. I actually – and I am not kidding at all – often sign my name with a happy face, when I’m writing a note to friends or putting a “Help Yourself!” note on a container of cookies for the people I practice yoga with. I AM A SMILEY FACE PERSON.

    Speaking of FB friends…it’s funny how we really recognize people from their pics. This can be weird too. I had a FB friend who was mutual friend of an IRL friend. I had never met this woman, but she was featuring my blog on her blog, you know how it goes. Anyway, one day I get a message from her. She was going to the pool and she saw me and my boys leaving and she wanted to say hi but then the opportunity passed. I HAD NEVER MET HER. She just knew me from my pictures. It felt weird. VERY WEIRD. And THEN (is this a long comment or what) I saw this guy in the mall who I’d never met but I knew he was married to an old HS friend of mine, because I saw so many pictures of him on FB. I considered saying “Hi, is Jenny here too?” but then I thought – he might call security.

    1. branch Post author

      I don’t think I have any facebook friends I only know through facebook. But I did run into a blog reader one time at a store and that was hilariously awkward.

  4. jaqbuncad

    I’m a bit prone to over-using exclamation points in my personal emails, but my real downfall is my tawdry affair with semicolons and colons. Every time I write something I have to go back and edit out at least three of them (including the one that I tried to put in the first sentence, and realized was completely unnecessary).

    I do use smiley-faces, though, quite often. And my signature includes a heart at the end. At some point I tried to defend it by saying that people attempting to forge it would be unlikely to put a heart at the end; now I’ve just resigned myself to admitting that, yes, I sign my name with a heart because I like it. So There 😛

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