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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

X Is For...

X is a pretty boring little letter when you're not Feeling It and you're coming off a spate of Migraines and you're sick of Endless Summer Heat and you can't find a decent tomato to save your life.

And, honestly, you feel like a shit for complaining about stuff when there are people in the world who are putting their autistic child on the bus every day, or trying to navigate elder care, or figuring out how to afford an EpiPen now that some heartless shark has boosted the price over eleventy thousand percent.

Heavy sigh.

But, seriously, the X section of my hardbacked dictionary (Webster's New World College, 2nd ed., 1979) is exactly one and one-half pages long. And despite its being preciously ancient, doubtful there are loads and loads of New X-Words in everyday English that it is lacking, unless you count awful and terrible mashed-up words like Xtreme or Xtra, which, of course, I Don't.

So. Let's take a brief stroll through the Standard X-Words that we usually think of:

Xylophone: Worst toy ever. "Oh, but, Nance! It is creative and fosters an interest in music!" non-parents object. All parents, however, are nodding in fervent agreement with me. Toy xylophones are atonal and noisy and children rarely learn to really play a tune on them. Instead, kids bang on them, drag the mallet or a superhero action figure across them, and use them as a noisemaker, primarily, often to bug a sibling. In-laws often use them as a Passive Aggressive Weapon Gift to get revenge.

X-Ray: I don't object to these as strongly as many people. It's the MRI that bothers the hell out of me. X-Ray, as a term, seems so silly in this day and age, however. Can't we get a more definitive, intelligent term other than X-ray, which means absolutely nothing? It sounds like something out of an old SciFi movie. Especially when you understand that the X in X-Ray is there because the scientist who first discovered them did not know what they were, so he termed them X, like the X in algebra denoting unknowns.

Xmas: Whenever I see this term, I instinctively pronounce it Eks-mus. Some people (read: God Warriors) get very calisthenic about it and start ranting about that old chestnut The War On Christmas. I find the whole kerfuffle silly and pointless. One reason is, of course, that the X in Xmas is from the Greek symbol which represents Christ ; another is that lots of megachurches actually close on Christmas Day when it falls on a regular Sunday, a topic I covered over ten years ago. Finally, isn't it a Given that Christmas/Xmas is already a largely Commercial Holiday? It's inescapable. It is a huge economic determiner in the retail sector. It simply isn't up to Kohl's or Amazon or Target or Whatever MegaStore to Keep Christ In Christmas. That's not their job. If you are a Person Of Faith, and that Faith happens to be Christian, then You Keep Christ In Your Christmas. ANALOGY: I LOVE NUTELLA. IT IS, THEREFORE, MY JOB TO KEEP NUTELLA IN MY PANTRY. I DO NOT EXPECT RANDOM STRANGERS TO REMIND ME TO GET NUTELLA OR KEEP IT IN MY HOUSE. I think I've made my point.  (Note to self:  check supply of Nutella.)

Any X's you want to talk about?  (Not EXES, mind you; let's don't, as they say, Go There.)  Chat about Xylophones, X-Rays, Xmas or others in Comments.

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