Robert Cox

Writing on the Wall

Robert Cox is associate editor, online editor and lead designer for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CCNnews@cox-internet.com.


Karate Dance Cornhole Swim Club

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Punctuation is important.

I say this because, as a copy editor and 30-year newsroom veteran, Iíve become part grammarian, part lexicographer and part etymologist ó an overall word nerd, if you will.

Thatís why I find signs fascinating ó particularly when missing punctuation or suspect word usage leads to some entertaining misunderstandings.

Most of the time, I get annoyed by the improper usage of apostrophes. That typically happens when someone tries to make something plural, resulting in abominations such as ďThe SmithísĒ or ďTomatoís for sale.Ē

In my elder years ó I turn 50 on Thursday ó Iíve learned to let those things go, just shaking my head and going on with my day.

Every once in a while, I see one that makes me laugh out loud. I donít mean clever church signs ó ďToo hot to change sign ó Sin bad, Jesus good, inquire insideĒ ó although Iím a big fan of those. I mean the workaday sign that isnít even trying to be funny.

Take, for example, the marquee at the Berryville Community Center.

I drive past that sign at least once a day, and for the past several months, Iíve laughed every time.

The Community Center is a wonderful place that hosts a multitude of activities, classes and clubs for all ages, along with providing opportunities for local organizations like the Greater Berryville Area Chamber of Commerce to hold large events.

In general, it makes Berryville a better place to live.

However, the Community Center has a severe shortage of punctuation for its sign. For the past several months, the marquee has listed some of the many activities available at the center. The list is quite impressive, filling most of the sign.

Thereís only one issue ó there isnít a single comma.

While anyone can easily determine the list refers to several different activities, my copy editorís brain sees and automatically reads it as written, which is enough to make me chuckle.

After all, who wouldnít laugh at ďKarate Dance Cornhole Swim Club?Ē

That leads me down another avenue. How does one dress for such an activity? Iím guessing a gi jacket, a Speedo, a tutu and dance shoes. I havenít decided whether the shoes are ballroom, ballet or tap, but Iím positive they are required.

Iíll admit, the cornhole part stumped me for a bit, but I have to assume itís played in the water.

Those beanbags must get awful heavy.

All of this plays out in my head as I sit at the intersection next to the sign on my way to McDonaldís for my morning biscuit.

Itís become part of my morning routine, as I dream up any number of ridiculous scenarios.

Iíll admit, my enjoyment of the sign is probably not the intention of the staff, and most likely isnít typical of anyone elseís reaction, but I like it. It helps me start my day on a positive note and leaves a smile on my face for at least a few blocks ó at least until I see the sign advertising ďHD truck parts inside.Ē

Thatís when I start wondering what the difference is between standard definition and high definition parts.

I may never know. Maybe Iíll just stick to Karate Dance Cornhole Swim Club.