Uppercase L sat in her lobby, doing laundry and making lemon lasagna while she waited for her husband I to come home from his optometry practice. Her daughter, lowercase l, crept into the room as quietly as she could.
“Hey, Mom, I just wanted to let you know I’ll be gone at the spelling bee on Friday night.”
“Hmm…I don’t know. I think you’re a little young to be going to a spelling bee on your own.”
“But Mom, the whole alphabet will be there. And besides, I’ve already picked out the most adorable cursive script to wear.”
L turned to look at her daughter in sudden horror. “Good grief. You’re not going anywhere in that font.”
“God, Mom, don’t be such a linotype.”
“When the boys see those loops and curls, there’s only one thing on their mind.”
“Oh, don’t act so surprised. I was lowercase too, once.”
“It’s not like that, Mom. Besides, I…I already have a boyfriend.”
“Really? Is it that e you’re always hanging out with? I know he has a tendency to be silent, but sometimes that’s actually a nice quality in a man.”
“Uh…no, not e. We’re just friends.”
“Hm. He isn’t one of those kids from that Comic Sans gang, is he? Those boys are nothing but trouble.”
“No, he’s nice. He’s a lot like Dad. I think you’d like him.”
“Ooh, found yourself a lowercase i, huh? You have better taste than I would have expected.”
“Actually, he’s…he’s not a letter, Mom. He’s…the number 1 from down the street.” L was silent for a moment, both of her lines growing dark and bold with rage. At last, she snapped at her daughter. “Goodness, I thought we’d seen the worst of it when the whole numbers started marrying fractions. It’s bad enough having mixed numbers in the world, but now our own daughter…”
“It’s ‘multinumeric’, Mom. No one says ‘mixed numbers’ anymore.”
“I don’t care what they call it…it’s unnatural, and I forbid you to see him.”
The little l grunted in frustration. “You Capitals ruin everything. You get to decide what’s Important, and you just shout down anyone who disagrees with you.”
“You’re doing it now!”
“l, come back here! Come back here right now!”
“Bite my serif!”
Lowercase l left, slamming the door loudly enough to scare away a flock of apostrophes perched on the roof. L’s husband, I, came in a moment later.
“What was that all about?” he asked.
“Your daughter…” L stormed angrily around the kitchen. “Did you know she’s been dating a numeral? Really, the idea of it!”
Uppercase I brought his wife gently to a seat and held her. After a while, he said, “You know, when we were her age, people used to say the same thing about us…a consonant and a vowel…oh, how people stared.”
“Yes, I remember.” L laughed. “They were probably staring at you. Remember how you always wore that awful huge dot back in those days?”
“Fashions change.” Capital I sighed. “Letters change.”
L sat there, musing in thought. “She takes after you a lot, you know.”
“For now. But she looks more like you every day.”
L smiled at the thought. L and I sat there for a while, italicing against each other. Finally, I broke the silence.
“It could be worse,” he said. “At least she doesn’t want to marry a diphthong.”