Boy Meets Girl – Learn Your Punctuation

Boy Meets Girl – Learn Your Punctuation

I’ve been feeling the need to write something snarky on the topic of boy meets girl lately. In the past weeks, I’ve come across different articles on said topic– some hilarious, some witty, some frivolously silly, and some depressing. I’ve had one too many conversations with these persons and those persons on same said topic – some enlightening, some infuriating, some shallow, and some deep.

The one thing these articles and conversations have in common – they are all centered on the sticky issue of the beginning phases of the boy meets girl scenario. Aside: I don’t know what that trend says. Possibly there has been an epidemic of mass breakups and now, there are tons of newly released (albeit some reluctantly) girls and boys foolishly lining up to jump right back on the crazy, exhilarating, painful rollercoaster of love they just got booted off from. Madness. But I digress.

Back to the common thread of these millions of articles and conversation – boy first meets girl. There are so many rules governing this situation and so many questions too. How do you know if a guy or girl is really looking to get serious about you? What does it take for a guy or a lady to get serious about you? How do you know if he or she thinks you’re the one? What’s the timeline for a guy or girl to make up his mind about you? How soon or how late should a guy make his ‘intentions’ known?

I’ve seen so many different arguments and answers for and against the questions above. Some say if a guy’s passionate about you, he’ll go hell and high water to make you and him happen. Apparently, if you have to think or guess about whether or not a man’s that interested in you, as in really interested, there lies your answer – he probably isn’t. Others buck against such rules. Some guys need more time than others, they argue. Not everyone likes to jump into these things. Slow and steady wins the race, after all. It all depends, say the ones in the middle. Every situation is different and what works for one might not necessarily work for the other.

Well, Cupid may feel free to sue me if I’m wrong but I kind of think I’m qualified to throw in my two cents. Okay, it’s going to be more of a dollar or two but yeah, it’s my unpatented angle on based on my experiences now and in the recent and distant past.

Herein lies my new theory of life <okay, so that was dramatic> but really though, I believe that when it comes to boy meets girl, men fall into one of four categories – the periods, the commas, the question marks and the exclamation marks and I swear that every girl, including me, has met at least one of each of the punctuation marks.


I’m going to start with the exclamation marks! We all know this ninja. This ninja is the one that declares himself in unconditional love with you from the very first moment your eyes meet. If he’s fortunate enough to get your number on the first go, he’ll die happy. If not, he’ll die trying. Ninja will text you every second, hit up your Blackberry every other nanosecond and call you every other millisecond in between. He is the one who insists on staying on the phone while you are asleep just so he can hear you breathe. He is the one who insists on watching you non-stop via Skype while you do your laundry. He is the one introducing you to his mother on your first date. He is the one shopping for wedding rings before y’all have had your first kiss. And if you ever dare to leave him, he’ll make good on his promise to off himself (never mind that he’s most likely doing the world a favor).

My experience dating an exclamation mark was a fascinating one to say the least. It lasted only two weeks and it was quite the drama-filled two weeks. He loved me the day after he met me and embarked on a futile crusade to get me to say the dreaded three words that I have never said to anyone to date. He wanted me glued to my phone 247365 which really got in the way of life. He had an emotional breakdown and landed in the hospital when I bid adieu to his loony tunes. He was ! to the power of a million!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Eighteen-year olds love that sort of thing, they say. Well, the eighteen-year old I was did not love that sort of thing. Needless to say, I haven’t messed around with any exclamation marks since then.

Exclamation marks are desperately insecure ninjas best left for bored or equally insecure damsels. They are too needy, too jealous, too possessive…they are not worth their headaches. Yeah, you don’t want to mess around with the exclamation marks. Not unless you’re a thirty-seven year old woman and counting. In that case, I probably wouldn’t look the gift horse in the mouth.


Now, what about the question marks? Question marks are trifling ninjas. You will never, ever know where you are with them so stop trying. You most often find this punctuation mark at the end of a rhetorical question. That is, the answer to this ninja is expressly clear, he’s just faking like it’s not.

This is the ninja that you meet in May, who falls in love with you in June, and then in July, tells you that he thinks you need to be free or that it’s not you, it’s him. Well, it is him alright because in August, he will be back again ready to start the crazy cycle all over again and God help you if you let him. If you let him, guess what – he will be the ninja that you meet at twenty-two who will have you waiting on him at forty for a ring that will never come. Either that or he will be the ninja that loves you, and Sally, and Chioma, and Bose and Mariam, and every other effing girl in the world.

Question marks will never be satisfied. Question marks always want more. You will never be a question mark’s only sentence.

I’ve been a foolish girl every now and then but thankfully, I’ve never been as foolish as to run around town with a question mark. The horror stories of those I know who have done so will have to suffice.


Now the commas, these are the tricky ones. They are also the most frustrating because they could go either way. You have to wait a good while to see if his long run-on sentence will end in a period, a question mark or an exclamation mark. The comma starts and stutters and starts and stutters and so on and so forth. He’ll go hard today and the next day, act like he just met you. Just when you think the sentence is close to completion, he’s fetching out an eraser and rewriting from scratch.

If you decide to stick around and place your bet on a comma, you will need dollops and dollops of patience because you are in for a long ride that might lead you to a final destination or a dead end and you can never be too sure which you’re going to get.

Sometimes, you get lucky and your bet pays off big-time. Your comma could turn out to be an earnest exclamation mark. Best-case scenario, your comma could even end up being a solid period that rounds up a meaningful sentence that ends with the words “I do.”

Other times, you lose the bet and you lose badly. You might get the comma that suddenly realizes he’s still in love with his ex, or the comma that is only using you to fill in the gaps until the real thing comes along, or the comma that is too much of a punk to put himself out there. I’ve been there with a comma once where I lovingly and painstakingly held my hand over his hand as we traced this achingly bittersweet sentence only for him to run out of words long before I ran out of love.

That hurt worse than I imagine breaking my pinky would, and is probably the reason I now mentally give a prospective comma  a deadline of a month to have at least a noun and a doing word in place. While he’s at it, he can use that same timeline to decide what he wants to be when he grows up (a ? or a . or a !). Any longer and I’m erasing your excuse of a sentence and confiscating your pencils. You can go beg another girlie to let you play with her crayons.


The ultimate ninja is the period. He either wants you or he doesn’t. There’s no beating about the bush. If he doesn’t want you, he’ll walk. He has no time to drag it out. If and when he knows what he wants (which is pretty much always), he’ll have a strategy for getting it too. He’s not impulsive like the exclamation mark but he’s not hesitative like the comma either. Simple and short.

I do have to say that if you are not buying what the ninja’s selling, then a period is good for nothing. After all, it doesn’t matter how fat and fresh the trout is if you don’t eat fish.

I mean, I once met a pretty decent ninja in this category. He knew what he wanted and what he wanted was me. I liked that, I respected that. It was just too bad that I just wasn’t inspired by any of the words in his sentence, no matter how hard I tried. So I returned the favor and let him know what it was, period-style.

Nevertheless, I respect this punctuation mark the most. You always know which side of your bread is buttered on with this ninja which is why I would rather him than any of the other grammar tools. If you run into a period that ends your perfect sentence, you’d best be wise and hop on it. You snooze, you lose. Period.

Copyright © Lara Brown, 2010

42 thoughts on “Boy Meets Girl – Learn Your Punctuation” by Lara B. (@larabrown)

  1. Period. hahaha hahaha
    Girl, I don’t know how you do it but you are surely something. I mean the ddescription of your grammar tools/ninjas are really something; dunno which made me laff the most sef. At least, am all brushed up on my punctuations now. lol

    Okay NS guys, which are y’all? Start talking.
    Lara.B, you rock girl.

    1. Because of you and Lara,i think i will go do my research and write on a female version of this.

      1. Bring it on dude; I like the fact that you are taking up the challenge. Still, wich ones u sef kan bi now? U no go talk? lol

      2. Tell us where you fall first, Anderson!!

  2. i like your way of thinking, its genius to think that someone would be able to make up such a case study and classify guys into punctuations.

    1. But you haven’t told us which you are Adeyinka. We are waiting oh.

    2. Lol. Yes, Adeyinka, Please share!

  3. Lmao! Girl, you rock! I laughed my guts out reading this. So funny and yet so insightful. I’m going to have a fun time reading this to my guy (don’t ask me what punctuation mark he is)
    NS guys, i add my voice to Abby’s – start confessing.

  4. Thanks Lade & Abby!! NS guys, who’s going to come up with a rebuttal for the ladies? :p

  5. I wondered where you were headed at first but now, I cant stop reading!
    The ninja.
    Exclamation mark
    question mark
    I sure enjoyed reading and you were right on point!

  6. This was so funny and cool but it sounded too magazine-like,i.e.Like you dubbed it directly from the mag you read it from,yeah you rock

    1. @Gretel, lol, it is an article that I plan to submit/publish so it is meant to be
      “magazine-like”. As for the content and experiences, 100% mine guaranteed- no dubbing. Thanks for the compliment, I’m highly flattered!

  7. @Lara B., @Lade, @Abby – Think there ought to be another group. This formula ought to be used to find that group.

    1 You meet a girl.

    2 You like her.

    3 You become friends.

    4 You become good friends.

    5 You guys are compatible

    5b You guys are not so compatible

    6 You become close friends.

    7 You guys are on (exclusive).

    7b) You guys are on (non-exclusive).

    If during this whole process, you both know everything, then find x and y.

    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 = x

    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5b + 6 + 7b = y

    Kinda in the last group. But don’t quite agree with the take it or leave it attitude. Seems like period will always walk away if the deal doesn’t go through. That is not totally true. Some periods stick around because some other deal might come on board. Kinda like maintaining a business relationship for opportunities that might come up in the future. So don’t make that group sound like they’re just self-centered and selfish. Please reedit that group. See “seeing off kisses” and “that kiss”.

    Think other guys’ll follow. Will work out something for girls. Hope you all will tell us where you belong then.

    1. Thanks, Jaywriter!

      I def didn’t intend for the periods to come across as self-centered. If anything, they are the most attractive of the lot because they take the ‘business’ approach – just do it…or don’t.

      I’m sure loads of periods stick around for some other deal e.g “friendship”, “fwbs”,etc. but I was focusing exclusively on official relationships here so I didn’t get into that. I do think that any period who sticks around just because of the possibility of a “maybe” is in danger of becoming a comma :p

      This is all tongue-in-cheek anyway so I don’t expect all guys to fall neatly into one group too, loll! I should have included a disclaimer: “Lara B hereby absolves herself of any fallout that may be associated with applying the “wisdom” of punctuation tools in reality.” :p

      1. Well in danger of becoming a comma, well not a real period. And you don’t hang around expecting a maybe, nah! If you say nothing is ruled out, that’s better. But ‘expecting’ isn’t it at all. Saying for lotta periods. So maybe we’ll work on breaking down each punctuation, lol.

  8. Good read, humourous and entertaining, me i’ll stick with the period too oh!Good work.

    1. @ Elly, I thank you!

  9. Lara B! You are unbelievable!! I thoruoghly enjoyed reading this. It educated me and helped me to neatly classify the guys I know….I definitely will jump on the period bus anyday… Good Job babe!!

    1. err madam, you got trouble coming oh. Did you say “…neatly classify the guys I know”? Did you perchance read Lara.B’s disclaimer? lol

  10. Wow,this is a very good one.I was thoroughly amused by the exclamation mark guy,who whould stay on the phone just to hear his woman sleeping.Who,for Pete’s sake would do that.As for where I belong,well…..

    1. ah han oga, talk now. lol

    2. Thanks, Lawal! I see all the NS guys are shying away from telling us which tools they are. I hereby declare all of you COMMAS!!!

      1. Right on Lara, just the fact that they are refusing to fess up shows which ‘ninja’ they are.

  11. Unbelievable
    so you managed to classify most of the guys ehn.
    i have to tell you you didn’t classify everyone cos i couldn’t find myself here o before Abby starts asking which i belong to.
    nice work,very creative too.

    1. I had already ased before I saw this comment so you are obligated to respond. Let’s see hmmm, now which do you sound like? lol

  12. Meena-Adekoya (@Olajumoke-Adekoya)

    hmmm…i dated an exclamation mark for a yr and 4 months…yea i know downright dumb…his insecurities ended the relationship so many times!i guess i actually thot he would get over it at some point… i have dated commas too as well as full-stops, i cant be sure if i have had a question mark thou…i simply dont have time for such ishh…
    lovely work very innovative, funny and to the point…

    1. Thanks, Meena! And high-five for not wasting any time with those sketchy question-marks!

  13. @ abby..The disclaimer was for her safety (to make her immune to lawsuits..abi Meena?)…Don’t worry LaraB I won’t quote you when classifying them..Will restrict the classifications to my

      1. @ abby, I see you have my back by steady pointing out my disclaimer. Good job! ;P
        @ Mercy, thanks for reading!! Feel free to quote me though. I’ll only just disappear when you’re looking for me to blame! :D

  14. Lara Brown!!! LOL, this write-up should be engraved in gold :D. Ingenious, impressive – I could go on but let me save my energy for reading your fantastic post again! How in the world did you think it up?! And all of it is so so true – I’ve definitely had a bit of all the punctuation marks (blush blush) – okay no, seriously, what if there was one guy who had ALL the attributes of the exclamation mark, comma and period “ninjas”??? Coonfusion, lol. Great stuff babes, great stuff.

    1. HA! Marya. One dude with all ze punctuations. You must speak a lotta English. lol

    2. Thanks, Marya!!! Loll @ a dude being a little of all four tools…I concur, he would be quite the confused individual. You’d never know what you’d get from him day to day!

  15. Lara B – this is ultimately, the bomb!!!!! tHANK YOU!!! *now heading off to deal with my Comma*

    1. Thanks, yetitweets! Good luck with the comma!!

  16. I’m seriously thinkin of cooking up a rebuttal. Seriously. First off, some guys punctuate according to the nature of words in the sentence: i.e. girls. So your signals might determine what ‘tools’ he uses on you. E.g. If he catches an equally enthused vibe, he’ll be a righteous old exclamation mark. If you give off the impression that you’ll likely be undecided, comma mode a-hoy!

    But that aside, fan-friggin-tastic job!

    1. Thanks, cikko907. You’re dead spot-on re the nature of words dictating the type of tool…you should totally do a rebuttal!

  17. Phenomenal work Lara! Talk ’bout accurate analogies! And so succinctly presented too. I particularly liked the part where you wrote that he ran out of words long before you ran out of love. That statement is a book in itself! good job girl!

  18. I hereby reject with ‘fire’ and if possible ‘brimstone’ that I am not a curved and crooked comma! A straight to the point period is more like it.lara B and Abby PLEASE TAKE NOTE…….LOL.

    1. lol
      That was some vehement rejection.

  19. A compelling piece…guess I’ll stick with the period….

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