Let Me X-Plain.

X is the twenty-third letter in the alphabet. It’s one of the oldest letters, having come from ancient Greek where it was pronounced like the sound you make when you clear your throat because the ancient Greeks liked to give really long speeches and they would cut off interruptions by pretending to interrupt themselves, or maybe they stayed hydrated by drinking heavy cream while making their speeches because skim milk hadn’t been discovered yet. Some people think X is a redundant letter but really X is a very hardworking letter. X can mark the spot, it’s what you put on moonshine bottles and unrated films before they invented the NC-17 rating as a way of telling people, “This film is pretentions and awful and doesn’t have nearly as much nudity as you’d think.” Without the letter X there’d be no X-Games, X-Men, or X-Files. And in regular words it’s very hard working. The letter X allows you to have experiences and it’s why Billy Joel can go to extremes. It’s part of excess, excellence, exceed, excelsior! Without X your axe would be an ae which isn’t nearly as exciting or exceptional, and would barely make an excerpt where an excision was needed. X works by itself too, in X-rays and X-Mas, and xanthan gum and Xanadu where Khubla Khan built a stately pleasure dome and then Charles Foster Kane renovated it so Olivia Newton John could build a roller rink there some time later. It’s why we have xanthan gum and no one knows what that is but it’s in everything. Without X your xeriscaped lawn would be all wet, your xylophone wouldn’t be nearly as xippy, and Xerxes The Great would just be Eres The Whatever. X also starts cool obscure words you only find in really big dictionaries, words like “xenium”, which means “a present, usually food, offered to a guest or stranger,” which is a really nice word that’s so much better than xenophobia.

X is also the Roman numeral ten which raises the question, when Romans said “ex”, which was a preposition that meant “out of” did they pronounce it “e-ten”? And did that make people say, “Oh, I get it, you’ve had your xenium so now you’re leaving”? Except “ten” in Latin is “decem” so I guess really they’d say “e-decem” on their way out.

All this shows what a really powerful and important letter X is, and why it’s a total badass of the alphabet. You do not want to meet X in a dark alley, and despite what you may have heard not all Xes live in Texas. X is useful and strong, it can work with others or stand on its own, not like, say, K, which other letters will tell you is a total dickweed, frequently standing there silently doing nothing in letters like known and knife, and making C look weak even though C can crunch it or be a stand-in for S.

I’m getting away from X though so this is a good point to make an exit or, as some people say, an ex-scape.

And actually it’s the twenty-fourth letter in the alphabet. I was just seeing if you were paying attention.

This was my response on an algebra test to the question “Define X”. My math teacher Mr. Stengell wrote a note in red at the bottom of my paper that said, “See me after class!” It turned out I was in trouble and did not get what I hoped for which was extra credit.

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1 Comment

  1. BarbaraM

    Your Math teacher should have forwarded it to your English teacher for an immediate A+ for the rest of the school year. But you’d still have to pass Algebra.

    Reply

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