The fun of playing the name game
A RECENT road trip across the US got me thinking about the complexities of place names.
In Oregon we rounded a large bend in the road and found ourselves in the town of, you’ve guessed it, Bend. Some time later we pulled into the delightfully named town of Boring.
At that point it seemed essential to buy a Boring souvenir. I headed to the Boring Hotel where a local resident pointed me in the direction of the supermarket. In due course I emerged triumphant with a Boring T-shirt.
In nearby California lies a town with the eclectic name of Weed, which appears to be very civic-minded and proud of its name. I did well in the Weed general store. My favourite purchase was a psychedelic fridge magnet proclaiming: Weed Makes Me Happy. A fitting souvenir, one would think.
Many kilometres later, in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, I was impressed with a town known as Blue Balls. Sadly, I could not find any souvenirs. The Amish may be lovely people, and I was able to purchase hand-stitched patchwork quilting and freshly squeezed apple juice, but they do not run to souvenir fridge magnets.
Small wonder then when overnighting at the Travelodge in the town of Intercourse, souvenirs were unavailable. I had meaningful dialogue (or intercourse, one might say) with the motel manager on the subject of the town’s name. He was bemused, uncomprehending of my queries, so I decided, perhaps wisely, to discontinue this line of questioning.
Australia is not without signage that tickles the funny bone. I will close with just two examples of the Aussie variety. In Melbourne, I was impressed with a historic wrought-iron public toilet sitting resplendent in a shopping centre car park. A prominent sign attached to the toilet proclaimed: 2P. Two-hour parking, I presume, or maybe I just have a warped sense of humour.
I was once searching for a pioneer cemetery on the NSW Alpine Way and finally located it on a side road. A large council road sign simply read: Cemetery. A similar notice directly beneath it read: Dead End.
And on that note I, too, will end.
Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: firstname.lastname@example.org. Columnists receive a Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Travel Bag featuring FRID blocking technology, metal mesh lining, detachable cut-proof shoulder strap and lockable zippers. $115. More: 1800 331 690; strandbags.com.au.