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Shell Shocked: The sentence finisher

By Staff | Jan 28, 2020

Art Stevens

We are all becoming lazy. We are used to pressing buttons or clicking on links and voila – services are immediately provided. Alexa is at our fingertips and we can ask her any question we want. Alexa, what would be the length of our finger nails if we don’t cut them for a year? Alexa, what is the distance between the heart and the liver? Alexa, what is the circumference of the earth on Feb. 28?

At hotel resorts we never need to leave our lounge chairs. Just lift your finger and someone immediately appears to take your drink order, to massage your body, to blow your nose, to apply suntan lotion and to finish your sentence.

Wait. Finish your sentence? Yes, folks, a brand-new service has been created to allow you to remain a couch potato and save on your personal energy. Sentence finishers are now being trained to follow you around, should you decide to leave your couch, and join you at social gatherings to finish your sentences. Think of all the mental energy you’ll be saving as well as not having to search your memory for just the right words. The sentence finisher is trained to follow your thoughts and pick up your sentence after the first four or five words.

I was at a cocktail party recently and experienced my first encounter with a sentence finisher. A local celebrity was at the center of attention and his sentence finisher was standing beside him. The celebrity was telling a story about a close encounter he had recently experienced.

Celebrity: So there I was walking down the street when …

Sentence Finisher: it started raining and I had no umbrella.

Celebrity: I was getting wet and decided to …

Sentence Finisher: duck into a nearby restaurant to have a cup of coffee and wait out the storm.

Celeb: Once inside, I ordered …

Sentence Finisher: an expresso along with a key lime pie.

Celeb: Just as I was beginning to munch on my key lime pie …

Sentence Finisher: a stranger appeared.

Celeb: He was looking at me quizzically and asked …

Sentence Finisher: don’t I know you from someplace?

Celeb: I looked at him and I …

Sentence Finisher: couldn’t immediately place him. But then the expression on his face changed.

Celeb: He said …

Sentence Finisher: of course, I do know you. We met at an AA meeting about ten years ago.

Celeb: Not wishing to recall any part of my earlier life I said …

Sentence Finisher: I think you have me mistaken for someone else. I’ve never been to an AA meeting.

Celeb: In fact …

Sentence Finisher: If you don’t leave right now I shall be forced to cut your throat in public.

Celeb (turning to the sentence finisher): Are you out of your mind? That’s …

Sentence Finisher: exactly what I will do. Not only cut your throat but burn down your house, steal your money and tarnish your reputation.

Celeb: No, no, stop finishing my sentences. I can handle them now. You’re no longer …

Sentence Finisher: in control of my thoughts. I will now say anything I want whether it fully represents you or not. I am my own sentence finisher and no longer need you.

Celeb: Please bear with me, friends. My sentence finisher is not expressing …

Sentence Finisher: my contempt for all of you stupid people who put me on a pedestal when I truly don’t deserve it.

Celeb: Please everyone, my sentence finisher has gone haywire. It’s not me talking and …

Sentence Finisher: I want each of you to punch me in the nose, humiliate me anyway you can and ostracize me from humanity.

And then I heard a thud. The celebrity had taken an empty wine bottle and had hit the sentence finisher over his head. The sentence finisher slumped to the floor and could be heard muttering: “Can this be the end of syntax?”

The crowd surrounding the celebrity was in shock at the turn of events, but the celebrity calmly said: “Please don’t be alarmed. I can always find a more polished sentence finisher. In the meantime, I can assure you that I can finish my own sentences. Why just yesterday, why just yesterday why just yesterday.”

The celebrity could no longer finish his own sentences. We all tried to reassure him that everything would be fine. But he was on his mobile device looking up sentence finishing services. He was not to be denied.