Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dear Picton & co - Picton, Day 9

Dear Picton & co.,

If you weren’t around earlier during my residency you missed out on the letter that led to the XO poll I conducted this past week.

Written by a 7-year-old boy to his pen pal, a jet-setting Australian rabbit, it ended with 1606 O’s keyed across the bottom of the page.  On first read, given the time to think about it, my mind turned to the disparity between the way I write XO and what I understand it to mean letter for letter. That is to say, if ever I were to have occasion to dictate a letter I’d say hugs and kisses aloud, but expect my administrative assistant to transcribe XO, not only because  (as one woman pointed out this week) otherwise I’d be signing-off Ox.

In the spirit of this project I opened up the question: What do you think O’s stand for, hugs or kisses?

I waited until I received 100 responses before I closed the polls both at Books & Company and on facebook.

The results breakdown as follows:
3%   - Undecided
21% - O’s are kisses
76% - O’s are hugs

Not included in these tallies is the (now not so little) boy’s answer: O’s are hugs.

Some history on the subject to support these findings, gathered randomly from the internet, suggests X’s became known as kisses as a natural evolution of kissing an X, written in lieu of a signature, on a document. Another theory maintains that an X stands for kisses because it resembles two mouths touching, while O’s symbolize arms extended in a hug. Google answers include a number of other abbreviated signoffs currently used in chatrooms: XX@, kisses with earlobe nibbling and CCC, hugs for people who you can’t quite reach around, are among my favorites.

On the streets of Picton many of the O’s for kisses people based their answers on the shape made with their mouths when kissing. Regardless what your take is on the subject...

Thank You Picton,
Thank You Books & Company

XO -> ∞ 


P.S. I’ll be posting the Picton wrap-up soon!

P.P.S This chapter of Voices at Hand was made possible by the generosity of the Ontario Arts Council... Merci OAC!
Onwards to Minden, ON in September!

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