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Monthly Archives: March 2017

“Teenage Angst”

Declan never saw himself as a rockstar. I know that seems hard to believe now, but like I said, Declan was a smart kid. Too smart for his own good. Smart enough to realize without needing to really even think about it how long of a shot it’d be to try to get famous.

That being said, he couldn’t tell you what he did want to be when he grew up, short of maybe one of the Ninja Turtles or something. Ghostbuster. Batman. But he always knew it was Tommy who had the chops. Maybe not the abilities—not at first, anyway—and maybe not even the raw talent (after all, again, what are the chances?) but two things Tommy had in abundance were charisma and stamina.

So how the hell did Declan end up with Angst?

“The fuck are you looking at?” Tommy said anytime Declan made eye contact at school.

“Gutter-punk with no talent,” Declan usually shot back, or some variations.

But that day, I don’t know. I guess Declan was starting to feel like nothing ever went his way. Too many teachers he hated. Too many classmates who felt underwhelming.

“Dude!” Jasper would scoff when his new friend started acting this way, like he wasn’t his friend.

“It’s not you,” Declan would insist, “it’s everything.” And with the back of his hand on his forehead, he’d drift the fuck off and away.

So this time facing off to his brother, his family, he found himself thinking of all the things he could possibly say to actually hurt him.

“What am I looking at? I’m looking at the idiot who failed American history twice. I’m looking at a guy who can’t get a girlfriend—at least not one he can respect. I’m looking at a guy who knows he’s not cut out for college, so he’ll probably spend fifty years in a dead-end job working for shit unless he drinks himself to death first, so better hurry up now! The worms are waiting…”

But instead, when his brother came stumbling out of the building to smoke a secret cigarette in the same private alcove where Declan was gathering his thoughts and shot the usual “Fuck you lookin’ at, huh?” all Declan said was “I’m looking at my brother.” And then he stomped away in contempt.

“Can you believe that kid, Toby?” Jasper asked later that day at lunch. “I saw him in the men’s room and I swear dude was, like, watering himself—“

“Hey, do you wanna start a rock band?” Declan said.

“A what?” What my brother thought he’d said isn’t entirely clear.

“A rock band.”

Pause. “Oh!” He starts tapping his utensils on the table like drumsticks. “You mean like a rock… band. Right.”

“Yeah, like a rock band. Like the fucking Beatles. You in?”

“Can I be George? I always liked George. He classy. Underrated.”

“I don’t really care which Beatle you are, long as you commit. You play anything?”

“Oh, yeah, totally.” This was an exaggeration.

“OK, cool.” This was good, seen as how Declan didn’t. “Good. Let’s call ourselves Angst.

Jasper thought that was cool, even if he wasn’t entirely sure what the word meant.

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Against the Oxford Comma

All right, it’s time. Too long have I been silent.

The Oxford comma is overrated.

There. I said it. And you know what, I’m proud that I said it. I acknowledge that there is a chance that I will lose friends over this post, but for fuck sake, if you’re going to unfriend me because of a point of punctuation, you are the fucking problem.

Now, mind you, I don’t mean to say that it doesn’t have its uses, but to blindly throw it about without thinking critically does in fact label the user a pretentious git without sufficient faculties for this business.

The idea of the Oxford comma is that when you are serializing words in a sentence (usually nouns, but I suppose verbs and even adjectives would qualify, too, in some cases), there have to be commas in between all of them, even if there is also a conjunction. Now, standard practice in English only demands that you put a verbal conjunction (e.g. and, or) between the last two; if you say “I was angry and sweaty and nauseated”, that’s a non-standard form of stylised emphasis, not something you would say casually or in a formal context.

The argument for adding a comma even in the presence of a conjunction is ostensibly to avoid misunderstandings based on one of the other uses of the comma: mainly, description. The commas are used to bracket descriptions and enumerations within the sentence by separating them out from the rest of the construction:

“My mother, a renowned linguist, taught me how to speak and write correctly,” or

“The twins, Byron and Shelley, had a terrible time in their English classes.”

In the first example, the phrase “a renowned linguist” is used to give more insight into why the speaker is bringing up his or her mother in this conversation by giving a pertinent description. In the second, the phrase “Byron and Shelley” tells us specifically to which twins we are referring in this context—and possibly why.

Proponents of the Oxford comma argue that if you are serialising words, omitting a comma between the last two even in the presence of a verbal conjunction makes it appear that the comma before the penultimate word in the series is actually used for this alternate purpose of enumeration and/or description. Here are some examples used by Oxfordites in their campaign:

  1. “We invited the strippers, JFK(,) and Stalin.”
  2. “Kill Harry, Hermione(,) and Ron.” (which I am using instead of the more popular “I’m having milk, toast and orange juice” because it makes just slightly more sense)
  3. “Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, a dildo collector(,) and an 800-year-old demigod.”

Each of these examples has its own odd quirkiness, linguistically, but the first is the most common and widespread, as well as the one that makes the best case, which is why I will be handling these three in reverse order.

So, to begin with 3:

“Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.”

The contention from the Oxford camp is that this sentence, sans comma, suggests that the former President of South Africa was both of semi-divine origin and guilty of certain profane proclivities. The idea is, of course, as stated above, that the sole comma creates the impression that it is for descriptive purposes, rather than for serialising.

But this accusation is without merit—not only is Mr. Mandela not (provably, at least to my knowledge) guilty of either of those things, but moreover, this sentence does not and cannot suggest that he is. No one who has not been brainwashed by the Oxford camp would think that.

The reason for this is because repeating the indefinite article (an/a) creates an unmistakable separation between the two entities that come after the comma. If you were trying to suggest that Mr. Mandela was both of those things, the sentence would look like this:

“Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and dildo collector.”

Now there’s no mistaking it. Once you leave out that indefinite article, you make it quite clear just how twisted your mind is. That is not, however, what the original quote shows; the original quote very clearly delineates three separate “highlights” (which is plural, btw) that will be seen on the subject’s world tour.

Interesting things happen, however, when we do put the Oxford comma where its proponents say it should go:

“Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, a dildo collector, and an 800-year-old demigod.”

Here we really do have a case of ambiguity. You will notice that there are now commas on both sides of “a dildo collector”—this puts it in the same syntactic position as “a renowned linguist” and “Byron and Shelley” in the examples above. So while you may have spared the former South African President the torment of an unnaturally long life-span, you have now unmistakably linked him with certain implements many members of his constituency would no doubt find scandalous.

The second example from the Oxford camp is awkward in a wholly different way and the argument against it bases itself on yet another standard use of commas, which is to mark a form of address, e.g. “Harry, do speak up” or “Pay attention, Mr. Potter!”

The contention here is that if we do not use the Oxford comma, as in

“Kill Harry, Hermione and Ron,”

we are telling Harry’s two closet friends to kill him (probably under an Imperius Curse, one assumes). Now, though this does not seem likely, we could just as easily use the example:

“Kill Harry, Crabbe and Goyle!”

The problem is that this still sounds quite awkward. I honestly can’t think of any case in which I would be addressing two people and put both of their names at the end of a sentence—at least not in English. If I was (terrifyingly blonde and) trying to command my henchmen to rid me of my nemesis, I would probably say something more like

“Crabbe! Goyle! Kill the Potter boy!”

So I really can’t think of

“Kill Harry, Hermione, and Ron”

as any less ambiguous than

“Kill Harry, Hermione and Ron.”

But now we get to the crux of the argument: number 1.

I have seen a great many variations on this construction—I would even venture to say that most examples in favor of the Oxford comma follow this precise pattern, which is a series of three nouns, the first of which is plural:

“We invited the rhinoceri, Washington and Lincoln.”

“This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God.”

“I was twerking with the puppies, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lawrence.”

The only reason any of these look ambiguous at all is because of the order in which they are summed up. If we reverse the order:

“I was twerking with Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lawrence and the puppies,”

“This book is dedicated to Ayn Rand, God and my parents,”

“We invited Washington, Lincoln and the rhinoceri,”

there is no more confusion. Under no circumstances can “Jennifer Lawrence and the puppies” add up to “Miley Cyrus,” who is not nearly cute enough to even compete with that; nor is Ayn Rand composed of any divine aspects (and frankly, if I understand correctly, she would probably resent the association); and no matter how many rhinoceri Lincoln brings with him—hold on, how did Lincoln even get hold of multiple rhinoceri? None of this makes sense, anyway.

The point is, if you reverse the order—which, frankly, makes a lot more sense to me stylistically anyway, most of the time—there is almost never any ambiguity at all.

I did find one example where there is, though: the example given is

“Among those interviewed were Merle Haggard’s two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.”

which, of course, makes it seem as though those are the names of his ex-wives. Which is ridiculous, of course, because if he had married those two, we would call them “husbands” as they are obviously men. But if you switch it around:

“Among those interviewed were Kris Kristofferson, Robert Duvall and Merle Haggard’s two ex-wives,”

then modern conventions present the risk of thinking that each of these three men married the same two women. However, this is not necessarily a problem that would go away if you added the Oxford comma, e.g.

“Among those interviewed were Kris Kristofferson, Robert Duvall, and Merle Haggard’s two ex-wives,”

because it is not a problem of punctuation, it is a problem of syntax and word use. And if we actually were trying to say “the two women who were both married to each of these three men,” and we said

“Kris Kristofferson’s, Robert Duvall’s(,) and Merle Haggard’s two ex-wives,”

it would sound like they had two wives apiece, and the ambiguity would be compounded. So, really, when it comes down to it, the only thing for it is to rely on tone in speech and context in writing to create this distinction.

And to a certain extent, the same is true for the Oxford comma in most cases. No one in their right mind is going to think that Jennifer Lawrence OR Miley Cyrus are puppies or that Washington and Lincoln are rhinoceri—well, unless you named two rhinoceri “Washington” and “Lincoln”, which I suppose would be valid—or that Ayn Rand and God (who HATE each other, by the way) would ever get close enough to become anyone’s parents. Syntactically, it’s a very specific case where it’s necessary at all and if it is used in other cases, it can create the very ambiguity it professes to combat.

This ambiguity can, however, be fought from the opposite direction, by discouraging the use of commas in these alternative cases. At the end of a sentence, after all, if you want to enumerate, you might as well use a colon, as in

“We brought in the rhinoceri: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln,”

or, conversely, a dash, which would give us

“I was twerking with the puppies—Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lawrence,”

which sounds a little clunky, but would serve to enhance the comedy of two puppies having been named after celebrities. Or of two celebrities being referred to as young dogs.

And in the case of enumeration in the middle of a sentence, either bracketing dashes or parentheses can be used:

“To my parents (Ayn Rand and God) I dedicate this book,” or

“The strippers—JFK and Stalin—were invited to the party.”

There are solutions, then, that might actually cure the problem, rather than providing a band-aid for it. Yet there are those in the community at large who have bought into the meme so thoroughly that they have forgotten what the purpose of the Oxford comma was.

I also need to address one specific case that came up recently—and when I say “case”, I mean that literally, as this pertains to a legal matter. The issue in question was the enumeration of the types of activities that don’t qualify for overtime pay, which are, as listed in the contract,

“The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of: (1) Agricultural produce; (2) Meat and fish products; and (3) perishable foods.”

The part of the sentence that is rendered ambiguous is “packing for shipment or distribution of”, the contention being whether “packing” could refer to “distribution” as well as to “shipment”.

This should have been considered a moot point, however, given the rest of the sentence, because of the way that serialization works. Serialization only functions to begin with because the final conjunction between the last two serialized words gives context to every preceding comma. That means that if “packing for shipment or distribution of” was meant to be a single unit, we wouldn’t know how to interpret the SEVEN separate commas that preceded it. So if they had wanted to set up the sentence that way, they would have to have put an extra “or” before the word “packing”. Unless of course it was a newspaper headline, since those seem to get away with everything.

Recently, I had a conversation with a woman who told me that the omission of the Oxford comma was a pet peeve of hers, and when I pressed her about it, she not only told me that she wasn’t interested in hearing my arguments, but she didn’t even seem to be current on the actual arguments in favor of her own position. She was just taking stock in the Oxford company to be trendy. In and of itself, this is lame because it cheapens the cause of people who actually know and care about grammar when someone arrives at these conclusions with zeal that can only be described as religious, but when I see people online foaming at the mouth about the Oxford comma, it becomes downright frightening. Blind loyalty to phenomena you do not understand is the opposite of science, and that applies to linguistics and grammar every bit as much as it applies to the natural sciences.

So the next time someone tries to lecture you on “Why you should always use the Oxford comma”, show them this sentence:

“I’ve had about enough of Nick, my dog, and other liars.”

And ask them what the dog’s name is. When they look confused, show them this one:

“I walked into the room and saw Hank, the man who killed my father, and the Sheriff.”

And ask them how much trouble “I” am in. If they see an Oxford comma there, they won’t know that “my dog” is a description of “Nick”, and they’ll think that there are three different men in the scene at the bottom. Then you can laugh at them and their useless, too-specific and ultimately nonsensical examples.


Spring and Storm

Spring Logan was there from the beginning. She was the first everything and I thought she was all there was. She was beauty. She was sunlight cascading through her hair. She was the smell of flowers and the energy of youth.

But being with her wasn’t always easy, because knowing her meant putting up with Storm.

Storm Logan wasn’t a 24/7 issue. Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, she was out of our way and I could enjoy my time with Spring, unabated. But when she did show up, there were thunderclaps right in my ear, and for no apparent reason.

“What did I do?” I asked Spring.

But Spring just shrugged. “She’s just like that, is all. It’s not you, it’s just a natural thing.”

I kept wondering how it could be that Spring and Storm could coexist like they did and yet be so different in their temperaments.

“It’s just who we are,” said Spring.

But any time Storm would come over, she’d bring havoc and leave devastation in her wake. I started to fear every day every night she might come, the things she would say, the fires she might light. “I can’t take this anymore,” I told Spring. “I can’t take her being here.”

Spring was sad, but she nodded and she smiled, and for several weeks, we didn’t see or hear from her sister. She stayed away, wrought her mayhem elsewhere, and I was safe. But I saw Spring lose her lustre. I saw the color drain out of her face. I would try to coax her out, but after a while, she barely even spoke. She didn’t even cry.

“What can I do for you?” I asked her.

She didn’t even have to answer. That was when I knew that Spring wouldn’t spring without Storm, that all the devastation was like putty in her hands she used to shape her sweetness. Without Storm, Spring was dry and barren, withdrawn. She was not herself.

So I called up Storm and stood and waited for thunder.

It’s been quite some time since I last saw Spring, but she left me with a bang and not a whimper and while I do not miss her Storm-dependency, I wish her well and acknowledge that she is better off with her than she was with just me.


The Foundations of Decadence (part 1)

LIESBETH DE KRUIJF: He-ey.

JEFFREY VON TRIER: Look at that. It’s a Liesbeth. Check it out, what I got ya.

LIESBETH: Oh. No, sorry, I don’t drink.

JEFFREY: What do you mean, you don’t drink?

LIESBETH: I’m sorry.

JEFFREY: Don’t you get thirsty?

LIESBETH: …

JEFFREY: Can I get you anything else?

LIESBETH: Water?

JEFFREY: What you gonna do with that? Thought you didn’t drink. Kidding. Lighten up. Well, so uh… that uh, that thing? You were gonna do? How’d it go?

LIESBETH: Pretty good, I guess. I mean… It was a bit heavy.

JEFFREY: Difficult?

LIESBETH: Emotional.

JEFFREY: Did he cry?

LIESBETH: He didn’t cry.

JEFFREY: That’s too bad.

LIESBETH: At least, not while I was there. He was just… einh.

JEFFREY: That’s something, anyway.

LIESBETH: Well, in any case, it’s over now.

JEFFREY: Over now. Well, then. Good for you. Guy was a dick and you’re too good for him. Cheers. Now to find someone who won’t go astray. Am I right? What’s wrong?

LIESBETH: No, sorry, it’s nothing, it’s just that term, “go astray”. I just get… Who does that? It just doesn’t make sense!

JEFFREY: What sense would it make?

LIESBETH: He’s just not like that! And her? He barely even knows her!

JEFFREY: Didn’t they date? A year or two ago?

LIESBETH: Yeah, for like five seconds, that doesn’t count! But they didn’t–that’s not even–

JEFFREY: Listen. People are machines that lie. I’m just saying. If I was you… A guy can go on for years, doing whatever, without ever thinking of anyone but himself, without anyone else even knowing about it. Happens all the time.

LIESBETH: Then there was that note.

JEFFREY: That note.

LIESBETH: You saw it.

JEFFREY: I saw it.

LIESBETH: That note. God! I can’t stand it! What are you drinking?

JEFFREY: This? Acts like beer, tastes like nectar of the Gods. Ambrosia.

LIESBETH: May I?

JEFFREY: Thought you didn’t drink?

LIESBETH: Tastes like juice. Soda, but just… I dunno, softer.

JEFFREY: Ambrosia. I’m telling you.

LIESBETH: You and your ambrosia, man.

JEFFREY: It’s beer. I promise. What do you think? … Wow, you can drink!

LIESBETH: I gotta get rid of him!

JEFFREY: Out of your system? Flush him out?

LIESBETH: Yup. And you? Your system need any… flushing?

JEFFREY: I might have a few… bugs in my system.

LIESBETH: Is that why you drink?

JEFFREY: I drink ‘cause I drink. My system? For that, I need something else.

LIESBETH: Something else? A girl, maybe?

JEFFREY: Why, Liesbeth… Are you trying to seduce me?

LIESBETH: You’re the one driving me to drink.

JEFFREY: What, beer? That’s nothing. Not gonna get you drunk.

LIESBETH: You sure? I’m starting to feel it…

JEFFREY: Or maybe you’re starting to feel something else.

LIESBETH: Now I’m the one going astray.

JEFFREY: Thought you broke up with him.

LIESBETH: Not talking about him. Aren’t you kind of a stray?

JEFFREY: Is that what you think of me?

LIESBETH: Not allowed to think, I’m drunk. Couldn’t we… go astray?

JEFFREY: Why do you want that?

LIESBETH: Don’t you want that?

JEFFREY: It’s not about that. Why do you want that? Is it about him? Or is it about me? What do you want?

LIESBETH: No, you’re right. You’re right, it’s not about you, it’s just to…

JEFFREY: Get him out of your system?

LIESBETH: Exactly. Yeah.

JEFFREY: Good. All right, then. Come along.

LIESBETH: Where are we going?

JEFFREY: Astray.


“Teenagers”

What is it about Teenagers?

My family was a little different from Declan’s, even though we had the same age gap, twice over, three years between me and my older brother, three more between Jasper and our big sister Aly.

Well, half-sister.

Things hadn’t worked out so well between our dad and Aly’s mom. They didn’t like to talk about it. Now, of course, me being who I am, I know everything, but well… I guess I don’t want to get into it, either. Besides, it’s not really important. Not right now.

It was hard enough for us all to relate to each other when we were little. When Jasper was born, Aly thought he was cramping her style and never wanted anything to do with him. Then when I was born, she thought I’d be her side-kick, six years younger. She liked to help out with me. Or pretend to, anyway. She had trouble focusing and then as I started to become aware, I guess I really never felt all that interested in her and her big-kid stuff. I was the spoiled family baby, but even then, I was off in my own little world, making my own fun.

And now, things are even worse. Now we’re all three teenagers, more or less. Adolescents. Young folk, rather than children. All got minds of our own, as it were.

Gotta hand it to mom. Nancy Llywelyn. Strongest woman I’m ever likely to know. Putting up with us, not breaking down. Especially young as she was—barely twenty-one—expected to take in someone else’s two-year-old with her dad, and then add two more kids?

We just didn’t give her enough credit, you know?

Sure, she didn’t always keep every bit of it together. She’d lose her shit from time to time, like when we’d lose our shit, or when we’d lose her shit. She’d flip out. Break down. But she never fell apart.

Even when Dad left.

And we gotta give her credit for that.

(To Be Continued…)


Not to Bury Caesar

MARK ANTONY:
Friend, Roman, Countryman, lend me your hand.
I come not to bury you, but in honesty and faith.
How long has it been since we met in the field at Philippi?
No, not met, for I did not see you there alive.
Did you know I buried you? I insisted it be done in state,
For such is the esteem I hold you in, dear Brutus.
Come, let us be enemies no longer in this strange place.
So many faces have I seen here strange to me.
Such names, as Mercutio, and Iago, and Goneril.
A host there was praised the deeds of some Fifth Henry
And lamented the weakness of a Sixth.
One man I met, a madman, claimed to be Emperor of Rome,
One “Saturnine”—have you heard such foolishness?
Like a King, only greater—can one man rule Rome?
Yet perhaps, at my passing, Octavian did it.
But say, my honorable Brutus, how have you fared?
These nine years in Elysium, have you found comfort?

BRUTUS:
Nay, Antony, mock me not so. No such years have passed!
Days, maybe, that I have wandered these troubling shores.
No doubt that Octavian made quick work of you—
I know thou canst not boast of nine years without me.

MARK ANTONY:
I’ll call my comrades in arms to witness,
If ever yet I find them more. But speak you true?

BRUTUS:
As true as the blades that pierced that purple robe i’th’Senate.

MARK ANTONY:
Hold thy tongue, for I have substance yet enough,
I warrant, in this place, to rip it out.

BRUTUS:
How can nine years pass so without notice?
Are clocks such baseless things? Such rude mechanicals?

MARK ANTONY:
There’s strange play afoot here. Mark you,
There is politicking about, as that dread Henry
Seems to be on the move…

BRUTUS:
Can there be power after death? Ah, woe’s the Gods.

MARK ANTONY:
I’ve seen no Gods here yet.

BRUTUS:
No Gods? Are we not, then, Gods ourselves,
That we live on after dying?

MARK ANTONY:
What hubris, this?

BRUTUS:
Will not men walk on Earth as Gods?
Is not that Roman policy, since Caesar’s triumph?

MARK ANTONY:
Still that self-same insolence, ingratitude—

BRUTUS:
And wilt thou slay me now again?

MARK ANTONY:
No, gentle Brutus. You’ve offered only words now.
Our slates are clean, no need to wash them with our bloods.

BRUTUS:
Yet there’s thy sword, all bared. Why bear it?

MARK ANTONY:
There may be bears yet in these woods.
And if there’s one, I’ll wear it.


The Geometry of Love

KIMBERLY: Whatcha doin’?

DWIGHT: … Doodling…

KIMBERLY: Are you doing Math?

DWIGHT: I’ve always been taught to say no to Math.

KIMBERLY: That’s Meth.

DWIGHT: Ooooh. That makes more sense.

KIMBERLY: Seriously, though.

DWIGHT: Study hall is for silently studying, isn’t it?

KIMBERLY: Have you met Ms. Kelly? She doesn’t care. It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me.

DWIGHT: Do you know Marjorie Robbins?

KIMBERLY: Isn’t she a cheerleader?

DWIGHT: She’s a lot more than that.

KIMBERLY: Why? Do you have a crush on her or something? I mean, not that it’s my business or anything, but you brought it up.

DWIGHT: There’s just a lot of stuff going on.

KIMBERLY: Stuff that has to do with Marjorie Addams? Is she good at Math?

DWIGHT: I think so.

KIMBERLY: What does this have to do with anything?

DWIGHT: I think she may be gay. Like, a lesbian.

KIMBERLY: … OK…

DWIGHT: So, given that—

KIMBERLY: Didn’t she date that guy Rick?

DWIGHT: Because no gay person has ever dated a straight person, either as a smoke-screen or an experiment—

KIMBERLY: I heard she broke up with him because he was gay. ‘Cause he wouldn’t, like… put out. Put in?

DWIGHT: Like I said, smoke screen. According to Rick, she was totally cold, completely uninterested in anything physical, then one day, out of nowhere, she pounced.

KIMBERLY: Sounds like loser patriarchy bullshit to me.

DWIGHT: I’m not ruling that out, but there are other things going on here that don’t add up.

KIMBERLY: Hold on—that’s what you’re doing?

DWIGHT: I’m trying to figure out exactly what’s going on here, socially.

KIMBERLY: I thought you said you were doing Math.

DWIGHT: If you’ll recall, you were the one who said I was doing Math. And then I made fun of you.

KIMBERLY: Thanks. Thanks for clearing that up.

DWIGHT: Don’t mention it.

KIMBERLY: It’s just a little bit weird, you know? A little bit sketchy.

DWIGHT: You’re the one snooping.

KIMBERLY: Oh, I’m snooping? You’re meddling.

DWIGHT: No, this is just… a thought experiment. I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but considering all the different things going on here, I thought this might be a good environment to test some theories of mine.

KIMBERLY: Right. Because that doesn’t sound even more sketchy.

DWIGHT: Interested?

KIMBERLY: All right, fine, I’ll bite.

DWIGHT: You’ve heard of love triangles, right?

KIMBERLY: Duh.

DWIGHT: You know how a triangle is supposed to be the strongest shape?

KIMBERLY: Might’ve heard something like that.

DWIGHT: Well, technically, a line would be stronger, if it were pointed the right direction. But a line doesn’t count as a shape. A line would just be two people who are interested in each other. Or who aren’t. Or one of them is interested, and one isn’t. Fairly simple. But then you look at a triangle—

KIMBERLY: Things get more complicated?

DWIGHT: And then you get this.

KIMBERLY: OK, what am I looking at here?

DWIGHT: It’s a theoretical model: a love-dodecahedron.

KIMBERLY: Um. Why?

DWIGHT: Because two dimensions weren’t enough to think about this.

KIMBERLY: Oh God.

DWIGHT: And part of the reason for that is because some of the actants behave differently.

KIMBERLY: What does that mean?

DWIGHT: Well, love is supposed to be directional, right? Heteronormativity would suggest that a love arrow can only go from a male actant to a female actant and back again. Now, the typical male harem mentality means that multiple arrows might come out from the same male agent to a wide variety of different female patients, but they’ll always go male to female, and a similar process would be true for women.

KIMBERLY: Assuming heteronormativity.

DWIGHT: Assuming heteronormativity, correct. Now, if that were the case, that would be complicated enough, but in addition to that, we have to include the possibility that some of the actants might be gay, i.e. not display this heteronormative tendency. Male actants sending out arrows to other male actants, female to female.

KIMBERLY: Not to mention bisexual.

DWIGHT: … Dear Gods, you’re right!

KIMBERLY: Don’t mention it.

DWIGHT: See, if it weren’t for Marjorie Addams, I would have no problem arranging the entire configuration in two simple columns, male and female, but with her, there would have to be retroflex arrows—boomerangs, if you will—and then if what they say about Kenny is true—

KIMBERLY: Kenny is totally gay.

DWIGHT: That remains to be seen!

KIMBERLY: Oh, come on. Kenny is totally gay.

DWIGHT: Oh, Gods…

KIMBERLY: What?

DWIGHT: What about trans people? If an arrow goes from a bisexual person to a trans person, that’s probably fine—

KIMBERLY: Not necessarily.

DWIGHT: No?

KIMBERLY: Just because you’re bi doesn’t mean you’re attracted to everyone.

DWIGHT: You’re right. That would be pan—

KIMBERLY: And then there would be asexuals.

DWIGHT: They would just be dead ends.

KIMBERLY: No arrows departing.

DWIGHT: But they could still receive them.

KIMBERLY: Just because a person is asexual, though, doesn’t mean they’re non-romantic.

DWIGHT: It would complicate matters, though. Eugh.

KIMBERLY: Why are you doing this?

DWIGHT: What?

KIMBERLY: What’s in this for you?

DWIGHT: I told you. It’s a theoretical model.

KIMBERLY: Why don’t I see your name on here, though?

DWIGHT: …

KIMBERLY: This is me prying, by the way.

DWIGHT: I have no dog in this fight.

KIMBERLY: Are you asexual?

DWIGHT: No… I just…

KIMBERLY: Nothing in your quiver?

DWIGHT: I keep missing. I’m a terrible shot. Probably because the consensus is to say no to Math, and anyone who uses it.

KIMBERLY: That’s not true.

DWIGHT: Isn’t it, though?

KIMBERLY: No. It isn’t. Here.

DWIGHT: What’s that?

KIMBERLY: An arrow. Think about it.