Today I’m going to be on the local NPR radio! My “I Believe in Flair” blog won a contest, and so I get to read the entry about Michael Jackson on the air. I’m wearing my pearls. My student today reminded me that it’s radio, not television, so it won’t matter how I look. But still, I put on the pearls. Besides, I’ll know how I’ll look.
I’m going to be on the radio! I’m going to use one more exclamation point.
Excitement manifests as exclamation points in my world. Some might say I’m a walking exclamation point.
My daughter’s the same way. I woke up to her asking why the other neighborhood kids’ Easter Bunny hides their Easter baskets. She wanted a hidden Easter Basket, with clues, on Easter morning. She was gesturing with her hands and reenacting the hunt she’d go on to find her basket. She suggested that I write a kind note to the Easter Bunny to explain the new hiding-the-Easter-basket ritual. I agreed.
“And mom,” she said hurriedly, “make sure you use lots of exclamation points.”
“Why?” I asked, rubbing my eyes and trying to shake off a nightmare I had about my high school.
“Because then the Easter Bunny knows how important this is. He will know how much you care about this.”
I thought about how right she is. Exclamation points do signal excitement, passion, flair. In academic writing, we never use them. In fact, my grammar book on writing with flair doesn’t even mention them. It’s almost as if the exclamation point drains out of us as we age. We lose things to be passionate about (perhaps because it’s not sophisticated to be enthusiastic). Sometimes I ask students to make a list of 5 things worth arguing for. Since they have to write rebuttal essays, I encourage them to pick topics that really move them. We are all surprised with how hard this task is. We’ve lost some flair and replaced it with apathy.
Most children exude passion naturally. They learn apathy. On the walk to school, I’ve witnessed some serious throw-downs about which website ranks higher (Club Penguin, Poptropica, or Webkinz). I see kids willing to go to the grave about whether or not it’s pizza or bagels for school lunch. I’ve seen them literally not stop talking for 20 minutes about Legos or Star Wars.
I want to be able to talk about things, with passion, like that.
Living with flair means I encourage the exclamation point. I draw out the passion in others; I ignite it in myself. So I’m really excited to go to the radio station! Did I mention I’m wearing my pearls?