"PUNCTUATION is the best aphrodisiac." I know, right?! It turned me on too, and the line was made even more appealing by the person who said it.
It was Louis on the already sexy and sartorially superior Suits (M-Net). Louis isn’t either of the two cute and frankly cookie-cutter stereotyped tall and handsome lawyers that play the leads, he’s the one who looks like the love-child of a chipmunk and a gorilla. He has chubby cheeks and tombstone teeth and his shirt collar has that strained look of a flimsy fence trying, and failing, to hold back the growing thicket of hair that luxuriates up his chest and back.
Despite his senior status he is the butt of office pranks, despised by all the office staff both below him and above him, is never part of the "in crowd", and has to beg to get women, usually, to go on dates with him.
Call me weird and him creepy, but he kind of floats my boat, especially since the punctuation thing. It happened when Louis got an unexpected but most welcome date with a woman he did not have to pay or even feed first.
They brokered a deal, you see, which is lawyer speak for foreplay. He suggested dinner but she came back with this: "9pm. Bring coconut oil, a ski mask and duct tape."
Note her excellent use of full stops, commas and quotation marks. No wonder Louis was keen. And when he arrived at her apartment and declared punctuation to be the best aphrodisiac, I knew things were going to go well.
This would be an evening ripe with semi-colons, dashes, hyphens and, if the night got really steamy, possibly some diacritics of indeterminate international origin. ¡Gø Lõüíš!
Here’s the thing about punctuation: it’s necessary and it works. To wit: Heres, the thing about punctuation its nec-essary and "it works":
It’s the difference between "Coming soon!" and "Coming soon?"
Of all thing’s punctuatory (new word-my gift to you), the apostrophe is what cause’s people to have catastrophic meltdowns.
In Lynne Truss’s (yes, its correct!) best-selling — and largely accurate book, though obviously there are some flaws’ — Eats, Shoots and Leaves she speaks of William Harston’s (possibly fictitious) story of Queen Elizabeth I’s "Apostropher Royal" a position created "to control the quality of distribution of apostrophes and deliver them in wheelbarrows to all the greengrocers of England". The grocer, you see, is blamed for almost all the apostrophe’s ill’s. So much so that apostrophising a singular possessive when the plural is needed is known as "the greengrocer’s apostrophe". To-wit: apple’s on sale, pie’s galore, ski mask’s and coconut oil available here, and so on.
Welsh linguist (no, not an oxymoron, how rûde!) David Crystal notes that all of this is "a slander on greengrocers" as "the apostrophe was in fact (I would prefer comma’s either side of "in fact", but what do I know) one of the last punctuation features to come into English orthography, and it has never settled down" and that "ire built up in Middle England … culminating in 2001 with an Apostrophe Protection Society".
Such passion and outrage over such a small thing. (But more of Louis later.) And really, it’s most common usage is very easy: if a words need’s to relay the possessive case, use apostrophe "s" if its singular — even if it ends in "s".
If its plural and ends in "s", just add an a’postrophe. So its Prince Charles’s nose but The princes’ girlfriends. Although one editor and writer I respected hugely once told me that this "rule" is, in fact, "optional". Good grief.
Then we come to it’s (meaning it is) and its (meaning something belonging to it), which is a bit of a bugger. Strictly speaking — and I do enjoy speaking strictly even without duct tape to hand — both should be written "it’s".
To drop the apostrophe to signify possession is counter-intuitive, but then habit or norm takes precedence over punctuation over time, so what’s a man like Louis to do?
Perhaps he just eats, shoots and leaves. But I think not. A man aroused by punctuation would never be so perfunctory. And I was so turned on by a man who would use the line "Punctuation is the best aphrodisiac" — and without an exclamation mark which would have been cheesy — that I fast-backwarded and played the line again. I had misunderheard Louis. "Punctuality is the best aphrodisiac," he said. But you know what? That works for me too.