I live in a part of the country where road kill pigs are often seen feet-in-the-air on the side of the road, and occasionally a cow is, too. There is a store near my house with a live bait vending machine out front, just for those after-hours bait emergencies. I have seriously exited our Walmart and made my way through the parking lot to my car only to find a horse and buggy in the parking spot next to mine.
Even worse, an aquaintence of mine had to do some community service in an outlying part of the county and when he arrived at the Town-That-Deliverance-Forgot, he wondered aloud if he would have to use an outhouse while there. The deputy supervising the workers passed out some mud-crusted shovels and replied, “Not yet, you can’t. You’re here to dig the outhouse.”
So it’s always a little bit of a surprise when something “big city” happens in our area, like a celebrity passing through on his way to somewhere else or finding out that more U.S. astronauts have attended one of our state colleges than any other university in the country. Two of the elements on the Periodic Table were identified by scientists at that same university, but they chose stupid names so someone else in the scientific community gave them more prestigious-sounding titles. I, for one, refuse to believe that astatine is a better name than alabamium, and I’m not even from here.
We do have trouble naming things here, I’ll admit. I know of several towns that were legally forced to choose different names for themselves after it was discovered that the chosen name had already been used by another town. Sadly, nobody ever seemed to realize it until they noticed they weren’t getting any mail. I now live in my second town in this state that was forced to give up its original name under duress. As if Poplar Head is so wildly…well, popular…that TWO towns called themselves that? And my current home town actually used to be called Lickskillet. I refuse to believe that idiots from two different towns independently of each other decided, “Hey, I know, we’ll call this place Lickskillet.”
It often seems that there was a massive contest during the Southern land rush to see who could come up with the best drunken name for their town. Frog Eye, which was not to be outdone by Pig Eye, almost wins the title, but Possum Trot (minus the O) and Slicklizzard are still in the running.
The various town founders throughout this great state really should have put more thought into this, if for no other reason than the beauty queens. Yes, I’m talking about the legendary art form known as pageants. These girls give it their all and they are completely unappreciated. They learn to pageant walk before they can crawl. Some of them have won crowns for Miss Photogenic off their smiling ultrasound pictures. All of them have fake teeth inserts and fake boob inserts from the moment the hit pre-puberty, and for what? For some fat, old mayor to crown her Miss Pin Hook 2010? Does that actually look good on a college application? That you were the beauty queen of a town seriously named Intercourse? YOU are Miss Intercourse? And your mama didn’t stop you?
I’m not really sure how long I’ve been a Communist, but after seeing the names that people choose for babies and towns, I’m starting to think a Government Office for the Naming and Identifying of Sundry Things might be necessary. Picture it, you walk up to the window with your sweet new bundle of joy and an old woman with hopefully keen eyesight squints at Junior and says, “Yup, he looks like a William to me.” I suppose it’s a slippery slope, because from there we could have a separate office for naming your town. At least that way we’d have a record that there already exists a lovely hamlet called Cluttsville.