To Whom It May Concern:
I spent a long time thinking about whether I should write this apology. I lay low for months, hoping the shame festering inside my gut would eventually go away on its own. I guess I should’ve known better since I was raised Catholic. Anyway, I’ve finally decided to come clean in the hopes that, in doing so, I might allow anyone I’ve inadvertently harmed to begin the process of healing.
When I was young, I dreamed of becoming an important comma. Imagine adorning one of Shakespeare’s sonnets or being assigned to a phrase like “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Now that’s a legacy! When I finally received my assignment on my 18th birthday, my family celebrated. What an honor, they said, relieved that I wouldn’t be spending my life buried within the pages of a NutriBullet instruction manual. My dad — who’s one of the commas in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover — was especially proud, given that I’d be following in his footsteps by entering the movie-title biz as the sole comma in Don’t Worry, Darling. It was a plum gig, in many ways. Even so, I couldn’t shake a lingering sense of disappointment: Was this all there was to life? Being stuck in place for eternity in the title of a movie that uses a lazy write-around to explain away that one really handsome guy’s British accent? (No offense to anyone involved.)
I panicked. My body quivered uncontrollably. I tried to stay in place, but I couldn’t handle it. So I did the one thing I was taught a comma should never do: I left. Nobody will notice, I told myself. After all, some people don’t even know that, grammatically speaking, there should be a vocative comma in Don’t Worry Darling. How important could I be? Ashamed, I spent my days drinking at the Run-on Bar, usually with the Oxford comma who got fired from You, Me and Dupree. He’s not such a bad guy, but don’t get him started on the Russo brothers, who directed his movie before going on to make Avengers: Endgame. “Hacks!” he often yells at no one in particular.
I was down at the Run-on when I first saw the headlines. “How Did Don’t Worry Darling Become So Worrying?” “Don’t Worry Darling Conspiracy Theories, Ranked by Plausibility.” My heart began to race and beat out of time. (Yes, we have hearts.) My bulbous upper body began to sweat. I had been found out. What must my family think? There hadn’t been a comma scandal this high profile in years — maybe ever? We used to tell jokes about the lazy apostrophe who went missing from Popeyes (the fast-food chain), but that was nothing like this. I begged for my old job back, to no avail. I had brought shame upon us all.
Drowning my sorrows in booze offered no relief. I knew I wouldn’t find peace until I earned some forgiveness. So I traveled to the Venice Film Festival to see if the apostrophe from Don’t Worry Darling was still mad at me. I ran into my dad there (he’s always loved the festival circuit), and shockingly, he forgave me, but only on the condition that I publicly apologize for causing such a scandal. And so here I am, just a comma standing in front of the world, asking you all to forgive me for overshadowing the hard work of our cast and crew with this needless controversy that I — and I alone — caused. I am truly sorry.
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