X is a hard one. The little red hardcover dictionary, a gift, many years ago, from my friend, Les, has exactly six entries for the letter X. Because I can’t see my way clear to make a list based on xenophobia, Xerox, Xmas, X-ray or xylophone, I’m working with the first entry, which is, simply, the letter X.
- X is the Roman numeral 10
- X is the first unknown symbol in Algebra.
- X is used to indicate position. “X marks the spot,” as in treasure maps. Years ago, my two oldest grandsons buried a treasure in my back yard. It was a tin box filled with notes and trinkets and mementos. They had fun putting it together, and fun digging the hole to bury it. The best time, though, was drawing the large map that would remind them where to find it. I wonder if it’s still out there.
- X indicates incorrectness. I remember the sinking feeling I got when I saw, in what was, I thought, a brilliantly written answer to an Art History essay question, an entire paragraph X-ed out. “This is NOT an aspect of court art,” was the explanation Mrs. Bates printed in the margin. I still got credit for my essay, and an A on the exam. But, when I was trying so hard to impress a teacher I truly admired, that X was humbling.
- X can mean a kiss. I often signed off letters to my young daughters with long rows of X’s and O’s.
- X can be a vote, or to indicate a choice on any form.
- X can be the signature of someone who cannot write. Or, evidently, of someone who chooses not to write. One hardware customer insists on making only an X on the computer screen when charging his purchases. “They don’t care,” he says. I guess they don’t.
- Beyond the dictionary definition, an X indicates a job completed. Last year, I wrote “X is a verb,” and told how I talked about Xing items off my list. That still holds true, and thankfully so, as there is little enough, even with this bit of information, to write about the letter X!