I've become deeply addicted to emoticons over the past few years... with my hands-down favorite being the "Smiley Face With A Nose."
This particular emoticon has proven itself invaluable to a writer like myself who, in the never-ending quest to be clever, invariably ends up writing things that piss people off. (Unintentionally, of course.)
So whenever I write something clever, I always follow it with a 'Smiley Face' emoticon — for two reasons: first, to let the reader know that I'm well aware of my own cleverness, and second, to give the reader fair warning that his angry accusations will be met with my lame but fail-safe excuse: "Hey, I included a Smiley Face... No one can get legitimately pissed off when a Smiley Face is included..."
A lot of people, who are apparently in a big hurry, create this same emoticon as the 'Smiley Face Without a Nose' — by leaving off the 'dash'.
I guess that saves a few microseconds during the composition of an email. But the cold, hard truth is that these people, who are too lazy to give the poor little emoticon a nose, are ignoring the fact that they have deprived him of one of his five senses — the sense of smell — a terrible blow, considering that he was born without hands (sense of touch) or ears (sense of hearing.)
I always include the nose.
But lately, I've noticed some emails containing a rather strange emoticon: the capital letter, J.
From the context of the emails, I've gathered that the 'J' is supposed to mean the same thing as the 'Smiley Face With a Nose.' But what strange physiology? No hands, no ears, no nose... and now, no eyes? Just a crooked half-smile, hanging there at the end of a sentence like some kind of ANSCII Cheshire Cat.
I've always suspected Alice in Wonderland was a drug-induced fantasy written by a math teacher who was just a bit too fond of little girls... so it upsets me to arrive at the end of an email and find the Cheshire Cat waiting there for me.
Much to my delight, I recently discovered that this strange 'Capital-J Smiley Face' is not the Cheshire Cat, but is, in fact, a typographical conceit accidentally created by Bill Gates and his crew at Microsoft. No surprise; almost everything created by Microsoft is an accident of one kind or another. This particular accident occurs — I have been told — when a person composes an email using MS Outlook and ends a sentence with a 'Smiley Face With a Nose' ... Outlook then replaces that perfectly acceptible emoticon with a circular yellow graphic that looks like this:
Unfortunately for everyone in the world who is not using MS Outlook, however, that cute little graphic will not appear in the email you receive. Instead, you will see a Cheshire-Cat-smile that looks like the capital letter 'J'. No eyes, no nose... just a lopsided smile. Which is not really a smile at all; more like a hideous grin.
Instead of feeling like the email author was somewhat clever, you find yourself lost in a gnarled, deformed version of Wonderland, without any charming young Alice to lead you back to ultimate sanity.
I understand that Microsoft recently released Windows 8. This is the twelfth major version of the Windows OS... an operating system that looks cute and clever to some users... and deformed to the rest of us.