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For nearly four decades Ernie Munick has been giving his heart and mind to thoroughbred racing. He is a writer, a vlogger , a musician, but most devotedly a handicapper and horseplayer. He can be seen twice a week on the NYRA Network's RACEDAY, and his videos for the Breeders' Cup can be found by clicking here.

Just minutes ago I learned that I am the only winner of the $188 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot.

It's official: Charlize Theron and I are engaged.

Are you ready for this? My dog…he could talk.

Do you notice anything missing at the end of the above sentences?

I am off exclamation points, done - until I'll Have Another crosses the finish line in front on June 9. This means I will not, for the next 15 days, not even once, whether on Facebook, in E-mail, text messages or blogs, employ an exclamation mark. I've borrowed money from dozens of good people over the years, I'm sure I've even borrowed from you, but this is my first ever Lent. Abstaining from exclamation points will not only intensify the joy of experiencing our first Triple Crown winner in 34 years, but will also show a sort of solidarity with the celebrated horse and rider. Mario and "Nutha" are (Joe Hirsch word coming) imperturbable. Remember the training montage in The Right Stuff, when Dennis Quaid as Gordon Cooper nods off in the simulated space capsule, amid the turbulence of noise and light? This is Mario, and this is his horse.

Giving up exclamation points isn't nearly as drastic and lengthy as other legendary displays of solidarity. At least Marcel Marceau, lifelong Red Sox fan, got to speak again, for almost three years, before passing in 2007. ZZ Top might be unrecognizable after I'll Have Another wins the Belmont Stakes. That's how much they've wanted a twelfth Triple Crown winner.

Dropping the woo-hoo of pronunciation marks might be an easy task for some, but for me this is a demanding sacrifice. I am bred to be noisy. You can't fire off a one-liner at my family's Thanksgiving table unless you're louder than the big mouth next to you. I am by Airhorn out of Megaphone, by Jackhammer. My mother writes in capitals and speaks as if she's always at the back of the room. She could empty a meditation retreat, yet she's always accusing me of screaming into the phone.

"You just punctured my left eardrum" is my mother's standard line.

There will be great temptation between now and the Stakes to lapse into serial exclamation, especially with the looming presence of a robust undercard, not to mention the Metropolitan on Monday. Also, I am known on Facebook for wishing people happy birthday with a row of exclamation points. I often do the same in texts, to save time and thumb labor. This approach can sometimes seem confusing to relatives and friends.

Text from friend: "Hey. Sorry I been outta touch. My turtle finally passed last week. Forty-five years. I know no life without Shelly."

Me: (Row of exclamation marks.)

Well, in the even manner of Mario, or of Stevie Cauthen circa 1978 ("I don't get psyched up, I get psyched down"), I hereby pledge myself to quiet coolness. The bigger the moment, good or bad, the smaller the stress. What about the brutal beats between now and the Stakes? the stirring stretch duels? the terrible rides? the carryovered Pick 6 I win by a schnoz?

And what if I'm assaulted by the voices of gloom who continue to soundtrack our sport???

Maybe I should swear off question marks. Or, like Mario, like Coop, I can keep cool. Cooper famously fell asleep in orbit, as did Nutha between Kentucky and Maryland. Equanimity rhymes with low humidity. No sweating. Albert Collins never lost his cool. Neither did Sondheim and Bernstein, real cool.

Comments :

  • Ernie Munick | May 26 2012 08:27 PM

    Point taken. Sound advice, so to speak

    report this comment
  • Mark Moran | May 26 2012 05:16 PM

    Gatsby agrees. “Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald —

    report this comment
  • Mark Moran | May 25 2012 02:53 PM

    Gatsby agrees. “Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald —

    report this comment
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