Sir: One day as I was out watering flowers I heard a phrase I'd never heard. I was drawing the hose out flat so a lady could step over it, and she said, "King's X, I'm coming through." After much searching I've been unable to turn up anything. What does "King's X" mean?

- Patrick H.Answer: Like you, I can't find a bloomin' thing on King's X in the reference books. But never mind; it's an old and well-known expression. It's a magic charm, and when you use it, it means you can do what you please for a moment or two without evil consequences. Use it with my compliments, and if any evil spirits assail you, refer 'em to me.

Sir: My daughter wants to know the origin of "Mind your p's and q's."

- Dawn M.

Answer: So do a lot of other folks. The expression has been around for a couple of hundred years, but no one is sure where it came from. There are three common explanations, all weak: to warn kids against putting the little humpbacks on the wrong side of the letters, to guard against picking up the wrong piece of type in a print shop, and to be sure you don't write "p" for pint when you should write "q" for quart on a customer's tab in a saloon. Invent another reason if you choose. No one will care.

Sir: How poor was Job's turkey?

- James W.

Answer: So poor, funnyman Thomas Halliburton wrote, that he had only one feather and had to lean against the barn to gobble. The big joke, of course, is that neither Job nor any of his neighbors had turkeys. Turkeys lived only in America. Ha ha?

Sir: I often see or hear "arise" used when I feel "rise" is more appropriate. Doesn't "arise" apply when the rising is done under one's own power?

- Earthbound.

Answer: Why do I suspect you're pulling my leg? If you'd rather rise than arise, go right ahead. What's a little prefix among friends?

BIG QUERY of the Week, put by Sharon M.:

"I read on a box containing a table and two chairs designed for children: `3 Piece Children's Set.' What sizes and shapes do you imagine the children came in?"