Barneys is opening in San Francisco, and my co-worker C. reports a billboard. TASTE LUXURY HUMOR, it says, like a Japanese t-shirt. We fret about this over lunch, inserting mental line breaks, periods, or commas according to how much luxury humor we’re each tasting that day. I like working with clarity hounds, the ones who might skim Lynne Truss’s Eats,Shoots & Leaves, but relax only when Louis Menand gives her pedantic sloppiness a slap.
I punctuate by instinct, not by rule, and so I’m inconsistent. But I care only about the kind of mistakes that force the reader to read twice to puzzle out the meaning (or eight times, in the case of my mother’s text messages). Stray apostrophes don’t fall into this category, mostly, but Truss is so busy bullying them she comes up with plenty worse.