Writer’s Wisdom on the Importance of Commas

“Making love to me is amazing. Wait, I meant: making love, to me, is amazing. The absence of two little commas nearly transformed me into a sex god.” ~Dark Jar Tin Zoo


Mob Hits – It’s Not The Movies

I buy my suits at Men’s Wearhouse. I’ve never worn a $4000 dollar suit. The shirt cost I’m wearing costs more than all the suits in my closet combined. The shoes, tie, and cufflinks they handed me? If I purchased them, I’d need a second mortgage. Why am I doing this? It’s my blog, I can rewrite the script. Yet, there is an alien force alive in the alt ego world pulling me deeper and deeper into its parallel universe. What have I got to lose? To start with, the little sanity I have left after bringing La Flor into the mix.

The voice from the living room brings me out of my reverie, “Use ready, we don’t want to keep the family waiting. It won’t look good for anybody and that means nobody,” said Tony.

I need to pick up mob speak as a second language. I did a final check in the mirror, pulled my cuffs out. Have to admit I look good. First born Italian sons always have a gigantic ego. Even when it is not deserved.

Tony is wearing a black leather driving cap. He has black driving gloves. Black T-shirt, black pants. For an instant, I wonder if I’m going to a funeral. He opens the back door to the black stretch limo. I get in and Fredo slides in next to me. His dress is the same except for the hat. He’s wearing dark shades.

“I don’t want use to gets lonely,” said Fredo. He takes out a pair of earplugs, pops them into his ears and starts watching a video on his phone.

I want to make conversation, “What movie are you watching?”

“Hey Tony, he wants to know what movie I’m watching.”

Tony starts laughing so hard, he bangs his right palm on the dash board. Fredo, pauses his movie. He’s laughing too. He stops laughing, he wipes the tears from his face. He turns to me and said, “Mob hits. It’s not the movies.”

Mob hits. It’s not the movies?”

“How shall I puts it to use? Use know how ESPN does the best plays of the day from the day before in case use didn’t see them?”


Fredo says, “Something like that. Let’s say it is a training film made from real experience. Like a reality show, but it is not a reality show.”

Enough. As soon as I get back I’m calling the FBI and entering the witness protection program against the alt ego mob. What am I saying? I created the alt egos.

“Dis is use problem, if I may say so. Noticed I did not use use name because if I did use use name, somebody who’s not supposed to hear what I am saying will hear what I am saying and use may come under discussion. If use knows what I mean. Shake your head if use follows my logical,” said Fredo.

Is there a grammatical rule against using use use back to back? Of course there is, please don’t email, text, or call and explain the rule to me. I did not follow his logic because there is no logic to follow. Fredo speaks in convoluted sentences without a sentence structure. I nod my head. What else can I do?

Fredo goes back to his training film. Tony hollers back, “Use need a stiff drink to calm use nervousness before use interview?”

“I don’t drink,” I said.

“This is a mistake,” said Tony.

“Why? I do it for health reasons.”

“I gonna gives use a clue. Now if they accepts use for the position which everyone knows use is interviewing for, I want use to remember hows I went about to help use prepare. Everybody who’s gonna interview use is gonna be drinking wine. They gonna offer use wine, if use don’t drink it, they’s gonna think there is something wrong with use. Use won’t get the job.”

I try to play this cool, seeing my way out of my predicament. I wonder if I can keep the suit. I say, “I eat tofu too.”

“Hey, Fredo, use hears what he jus said? He said he eats toe food.”

Fredo pulls out his earplugs, “Use eats toe food?”

I assumed this is there way of speaking, I nod.

“They gonna love this man, Tony. He’s a cannonball. He’s not gonna take any cannoli from anybody likes the last guy.”

I think he meant to say cannibal instead of cannonball. I let it go, instead, I ask, “The last guy?”

“Yah, he’s coming up on my training film. He made a nice exit if use knows what I mean. He coulda made the Olympic swim team if they have diving from overpass on I-35 at rush hour. You wants to see it?

“Not now, Fredo, we’s here,” said Tony out of the corner of his mouth.

Tony pulls the limo to a stop in the warehouse district. Tony says, “We’s at cooperate.”

“You mean corporate?”

“Whad I say?”

Mario’s Ice Storage? Corporate? A sign on the door, Reopens When We Reopens. 



You Pushed My Helper Button

I woke up at two in the morning and wondered if it was to in the morning, or too in the morning, or two in the morning. La Flor and Little Carmen are sucking me into the vortex of misused and abused uses of two, too, and to. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I tried counting to hundred, but couldn’t get past to, or is it too, or two. At four twenty to or too or two, I decided La Flor and Little Carmen were going to attend my class to learn about two, too, and to.

The three of us sat in the living room. I thought a comfortable atmosphere might help them learn. La Flor and Little Carmen sat on the sofa. I sat on a chair off to La Flor’s right, but where we could all see each other.

“No holding hands. It won’t take long if you tw …” I caught myself and said, “both pay attention.”

Little Carmen took his hand away from La Flor and put his arm around her shoulders. She snuggled closer to him and rested her head against his shoulder.

I felt exasperated. I said, “You two separate. Little Carmen, you move to that end, and La Flor you move to the other end.”

“Ray?” asked La Flor.


“I don’t want too correct the teacher, but you should have said, ‘You to.” And, you should have said move two the other end. Maybe I should teach this class.”

“That’s just it, La Flor you have it wrong. You’ve got your two, to, and too’s mixed up.”

Little Carmen was taking selfies and didn’t hear a word I said to La Flor. La Flor followed my eyes to Little Carmen. She said, “I want too do that to.” She reached in her handbag and pulled out her smartphone.

Little Carmen looked at her, “Text me a selfie and I’ll text use a selfie. Ray-mo, use wants too borrows my smarty phone after I text a selfie two the beautiful, tough, and edgy woman?”

Am I experiencing the life of a classroom teacher? I make a silent promise to support higher teacher salaries and an automatic entry into heaven at journey’s end.

“Break time,” I said. “I’ll get the coffee, bagels, and cream cheese.”

“Don’t forget the fruit and my Greek yogurt,” said La Flor.

“I want my Danish and donuts,” said Little Carmen.

“What about the bagels and cream cheese?” I asked.

“Is this a trick question?” asked La Flor, now laying on the sofa with her head on Little Carmen’s lap. She was scrolling through her selfies. There are thousands of them. She only has photos of herself. She deleted Little Carmen’s selfie as soon as it arrived.

“Break’s over,” I said.

“When are we gonna have recess?” said Little Carmen.

A good idea to teach about two, too, and to? No, it was not a good idea. Maybe flash cards would help. Big Bird singing a ditty about two, too, and to. A prize to anyone who passed the final exam. I should have thought of incentives.

La Flor, whose head was still on Little Carmen’s lap, lifted her eyes from her smartphone to look at Little Carmen. This is something she’d never done before. She stared into two large nostrils reminding her of a tunnel that goes through the Rocky Mountains, a two-day grunge beard, eyebrows marching toward the midway point to connect. She sat up as if she woke from a nightmare.

“Ray, send LC to the office. He’s disrupting class,” she said.

“What office?” I said.

“Use wants me to sits in use office, Ray-mo until we can talk? You’re not gonna call Big Carmen and tell on me, right?” asked Little Carmen.

“No, I’m not getting parents involved,” I said. Maybe I should under the sofa for my mind. I’m sure I lost it.

I knew La Flor needed to talk. Remember, I’m the sensitive male in this blog. Granted, my only competition is Little Carmen. I said, “Little Carmen, it is time for recess. There’s a pool hall five blocks over.”

“Geez, Ray-mo, this is better than real school. I gets to leave campus and play pool.”

After Little Carmen left, I asked La Flor, “What’s up?”

“Okay, first things first. Two is the number two. Too is used for also, very, or more than. To is a prepositional phrase and it can used as part of an infinitive. Did I pass?”

“Yes. But why did you use them incorrectly?” I asked.

“I thought I was in love with LC. I fell out of love with him again.”


“When I looked up his nose. Did you realize how big it is? Then I saw his eyebrows. I wanted you to spray them with whatever you use to get rid of bugs, you know, PAM. I thought his eyebrows were caterpillars. When he said he wanted recess, Ray, I couldn’t take anymore.”

“It’s okay if your alt ego girlfriends get their hands on him?” I asked.

“I didn’t think of that. You confused me.”

“I did?”

“LC won’t survive. He’s vulnerable. He’s naïve. He’s too much for any of them. He’s all mine. All, I tell you. And, I’m not sharing any of him with any of them.”

“Are you back in love?” I asked.

“No. I’ll bring up a nose job at the right time. Talk about some laser work on the brows.”

“Why are you going to stay with him?” I asked.

“You pushed my helper button.”

“It was so big, I couldn’t miss it.”

“I really am a good person, Ray.”

“Mother Teresa could have used you.”