Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Less than Three You Too

It all began with this
Who discovered that?
It took me a while to turn my head on the side, but once I figured it out, those dots and dashes would make me wild.  Why the smile?  Why the little coda at the end of a perfectly fine sentence?  No offense, I know they have become an intrinsic part of modern communication and are intended to give a happy little burst at the end of sentences, but they give me a wiggly feeling inside.  In fact, they drive me positively mental.  It’s true that’s probably because my first contact with the Emoticon was when the Frenchman got passive aggressive with me in emails and texts, signing off with those infuriating dots and dashes: 
That's ok, I'm used to you being late :)
Or this one
That's ok, I'll see you next year ;)
Argh!  That winky one is the WORST.
I just could never understand them.  I think the way I read them is wrong.  They make me feel creepy.  I’m sure they’re not intended to be. 
I suppose people find them cute.  They can be.  When I get woken up in the morning by a little face on skype that’s blowing kisses beside a message that reads
‘Awake yet sleepyhead?’
It’s cute.  Because it’s Dad.  And even the fact that he has discovered how to use something as modern as those little yellow pre-designed emoticons is heartbreakingly sweet.
I guess it’s mainly the analog ones that freak me out.  Probably because it takes me ages to figure out what they mean.  At first I couldn’t figure out why everyone was putting a colon and a bracket at the end of all their messages.  And why one would come up automatically when I tried to put in a full-stop and a quotation mark or something.  It was terribly confusing.  Like modern language had taken a turn I just wasn’t prepared for.
Recently there has been this one a lot:
I had no clue what it was.  I stared at it for hours.  An ice-cream?  A mathematical equation?  A bird?  People kept sending emails with it at the end, or even as a subject heading.  Some people even put the little collection of symbols as a comment on the blog.
“What does ‘greater than three’ mean?” I called out to The Love.
“What?” he replied from the kitchen.
“What’s a ‘greater than three’ at the end of an email?  Or on my blog?  Are they rating me?”
He came and looked.
“That’s ‘less than three', my genius,” he said, stroking his beard.  “I’ve seen it before.”
“What does it mean?” I asked.
“Well at first I thought it was a pair of balls,” he said.  “Or a bum.  But I think it’s actually a love heart.”
I reread the messages with the less than three at the end of them.  Indeed, the messages seemed to imply ‘love heart’ more than ‘balls’ or ‘bum’ or ‘less than three’.  So that was nice.  At least they weren’t giving me the thumbs down. 
The less-than-three seems to live on its own, rather than being thrown on to the end of sentences for effect – correct me if I’m wrong.  I rather like it.  It’s creative.  Maybe I should make up some emoticons of my own. 
<)  sailboat
**  clown’s eyes
(+)  hot cross bun
?|  i’m blind and now I must wear a patch
5318008  boobies
Anyway, if you sent me a less-than-three love heart, sorry to sound unappreciative, I am happier now that I know what it means and I thank you very much.  I less-than-three you too.  Semi-colon bracket.  Semi-colon bracket.


  1. Punctuation artwork is indeed scary.
    But I like your <).
    This all reminds me of an old, stupid head-twister. See if you can figure this one out.
    "Italian wedding invitation"...
    U,Maria Mr. .

  2. you marry a mister dot?
    i like your <3 jeb - read: 'heart', not balls or bum, though i'm sure they're lovely too semi-colon bracket

  3. i generally can't stand those emoticons either. this may be entirely unfair/judgmental, but i find them infantile

  4. Hint - read the words and the American names of the punctuation out loud in a silly Hollywood-Italian accent.
    U , Maria Mr. .

  5. Close... "You comma, Maria missed her period."