Look It Up

Evidently the story about a panda has been around for quite some time, but it came to me only recently.

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
“Why?” asks a confused waiter, as the panda makes toward the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
“I’m a panda,” he says at the door. “Look it up.”
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
“Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

So, you see, punctuation really does matter, even if it only occasionally leads to gunshots in a cafe.

I just finished reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynne Truss, a British writer who uses the panda story as the starting point for an extended and highly entertaining lament of the fact that in our day otherwise well-educated people have no sense of correct punctuation and therefore confuse their readers as to the meaning intended. She does more than lament; she informs and instructs.

I find the book to be a delight.

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