Who was it, that first had the idea of putting an x by the signature, to symbolise a kiss?In every social missive we receive, be it an e-mail, a card, or a text message, our contact’s name is appended with an x. Sometimes, the x brings a friend along; sometimes two. At other times, there is a troika, or even an entire party, standing in a row.
How did x mutate from the signature of illiterate people, to a smack of the lips?
For years now, I have been trying to solve the riddle of the x etiquette, without success. Do you put an x whenever – given physical proximity – you would apply an actual kiss? A former boss of mine, a stern man of, shall we say, inexpressive emotional expression, once signed my birthday card, adding an x. I stared at the incongruous symbol, fully aware of the fact that the possibility of a physical peck on my cheek from said boss could only take place in a universe manifested through absinthe laced with gin. More recently, a literary agent I approached sent me a text message and added the x next to his signature. I shuddered.
Then, of course, there is the eternal question: how many of these little blighters do we put, and when?
x = Easy. One kiss on the cheek.
x x = Two kisses. One on each cheek.
x x x = Three kisses. One cheek, the other, then back to the first. Russian style. Or does the third steal a kiss on the lips? Perhaps we had better not go there.
x x x x = ?
x x x x x = ???
x x x x x x x x x x x x… Aaargh! Help!
That’s it. Let teenagers and twenty-somethings study the numerology of the x. I am going to ignore it from now on, and dispense with its services. My signature does not need accessorizing. It does look a little naked on its own, though. That’s all right. It’s just a withdrawal symptom. I can do this. 😘