My Oxford Comma: Editor quests to legalize contended punctuation

Mossy Log style guide Illustration
By J Frank

The Oxford Comma has long since, according to The Mossy Log’s style guide, been illegal. This oppressive guideline has plagued the poor Mossy Log staff for years, nay, decades!

One fateful day, the new editor of The Mossy Log’s Backdoor was looking over an article she had written, taking the edits the lovely editors had so kindly left her, when all of a sudden she froze. Sweat beginning to bead on her forehead, finger hovering above the touchpad of her laptop, she was confronted with the ultimate conflict of a writer: to accept the edit and abandon her morals, or to stand her ground until print. 

She immediately drafted an email to the higher-ups, heart racing with sheer passion for the subject of grammatical correctness. It demanded an audience with the mysterious Council of The Mossy Log. The editor always had been and would forever be the Oxford Comma’s biggest defender. It was a matter of simple clarity. 

In response, she got only the time and meeting place, sent from an anonymous email address. Her breath caught in her throat. This could be dangerous, life threatening even, but she was willing to risk it all for the comma she held dear.

JR Howard was silent as our heroine slowly opened the door to classroom 135. There, in the darkness, the Council was waiting, only the glinting of their blue-light glasses visible through the shadows. They were silent as she stood before them, waiting for her query. She let out a breath she had not realized she was holding.

Gazing into the sparkling orbs of the paper editors, Y/N- I mean, the Backdoor Editor found herself stuttering as she tried to speak. 

“I-I-I want to p-propose a rule ch change.” Her heart was galloping in anticipation. She gulped.

The Council spoke in unison, their voices bellowing, “YOU DARE ASK US TO ALTER THE SACRED TEXT?”

The Backdoor Editor stumbled back with a gasp as the Council began to rise from their seats, a bright light emanating from their bodies. They continued, “REFER TO THE TOME OF WISDOM.” 

With that, they disappeared into thin air, leaving behind them a piece of paper, fluttering to the floor. The Backdoor Editor inched over to it, watching the room for any sign that the Council was watching. It seemed they had gone. She lifted the piece of paper, heavy because her arms were so delicate and petite and tiny. It was a map to a spot marked with an X. Classic. She quested through the tall, swaying grasses of the glade and passed the brick manor house.  

After a journey through the multiple trees surrounding it, she arrived at the hulking emo walls of the Fowler building, the place where her quest was destined to end. She snuck through the halls, being watched by the Council’s guards, and finally made it to the small office in Fowler where the X was located on the map. She jiggled the door —  locked. She began to turn away in defeat — but then a high-pitched sound caught her ear.

The door began to glow. It recognized the touch of a true author and would grant entrance to only the worthiest of Mossy Log staff members. Our heroine coquettishly jumped back as it began to shake violently before springing open. 

Beyond the doorway she could see only darkness. She slowly made her way through the lit doorway. In the center of the room, she could make out a podium, upon which was a large, leather-bound book.

The book was covered with a thick layer of dust, and the cover looked worn and ancient. She brushed off some of the dust to see the words engraved into the leather: THE MOSSY LOG STYLE GUIDE. So this was where it all began.

Sensing her true intentions, the book opened itself and flipped to the correct page, titled “Use of the Oxford Comma.” The only phrase beneath was, “Do Not.” 

The Backdoor Editor looked over her shoulder, confirming that she was alone, before taking out her trusty red pen and beginning her edits. Her pen moved in a frenzy, scratching out that evil “Do Not.” and replacing it with a pleasant, “Under necessary circumstances, the use of the Oxford Comma may be permitted.”

In that brief, beautiful moment, the Oxford Comma was officially legalized, according to the sacred text, but before she could celebrate her great accomplishment, the page began to crease, crinkle and fade. She watched as the paper erased her edits and returned it back to its previous state, with that dreaded “Do Not,” filling the page with authority, finality and inclemency.

Our brave heroine trudged back home in defeat where she returned to her edits, dejectedly, morosely and inconsolably deleting her beloved Oxford Comma from article after article.

To report this heroic story, the editor called upon her (favorite) new Staff Writer, who made it her mission to try to use her newfound privilege throughout this article, an effort which has most definitely been erased from the record by our lovely editors. So goes the story of how the Oxford Comma was (almost) made legal in The Mossy Log, if but for a mere few seconds.

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