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Colourful stories behind names that suck eggs

Opinion Piece

The place names in this column are all real. The people are not.

Eighty-six-year-old Theodore Ulysses Coolidge II shuffled down the aisle of Caesar’s Palace Colosseum theatre, oblivious to the rapturous applause threatening to raise the rafters.

“Dang hearing aid batteries,” he muttered, tapping his aid and regretting leaving his ear trumpet at home.

The oldest resident of Suck-Egg Hollow, Tennessee — just named a finalist for the world’s worst place name — expectorated a large piece of chewing tobacco from the side of his toothless mouth, the diarrhoeic brown dollop splash-landing on the freshly-polished boot of the Mayor of Bumpass, Virginia.

“Congratulations,” gushed awards host Melvyn Peabody, the Grand Poobah of the masonic lodge of Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

Theodore, having negotiated the six steps to the stage with the stealth of a flatulent warthog, burst into a coughing fit that sprayed tobacco-laced phlegm all over the front-row contingent from Horneytown, North Carolina.

He removed a small bottle labelled “mother’s milk” from his breast pocket, took a generous swill then belched violently as the paint-stripping elixir erupted in the pit of his stomach, much to the horror of the all-female entourage from Wetwang, England.

“Mr Coolidge,” continued the host, “is a direct descendant of the farmer who Suck-Egg Hollow is named after”. A captivated audience let out a communal “oooooh” led vociferously by all four representatives of Swastika, Ontario.

“Legend has it that the farmer was so sick of his chicken eggs being taken by a mysterious critter, he shot every animal that went near the henhouse, only to discover it was black snakes sneaking in and sucking down the eggs.”

Theodore pushed the nose hair back into his left nostril and looked across at the other four finalists.

“Stiff competition,” he thought to himself. “Especially finalist number one.”

1. Dildo, Newfoundland: Dating back to 1711, there is conjecture as to how its name came about. Some say it could relate to “dildo” once being used to refer to a ship part, others that it was the name of a Spanish sailor who settled there in the 18th century. Another theory is that in mapping Newfoundland in the 1760s, Captain James Cook and surveyor Michael Lane often had a sense of humour in the place names they chose and were not above selecting names that might offend. Several campaigns were launched in an effort to change the name. All failed, with devoted locals saying that changing it could demean the town’s history. The town celebrates Dildo Days in July and is just down the road from a place called Ass Rock.

2. Monkeys Eyebrow, Kentucky: The county of Ballard, where Monkeys Eyebrow is located, is apparently shaped like a monkey’s head on the map. No prizes for guessing where Monkeys Eyebrow sits on this map. There is another story of a riverboat running aground and a monkey escaping from it, and ending up sitting in a tree where the town is now located. Then there’s the tale of a logger whose wagon got stuck in mud, forcing him to go to a nearby town for help. When asked how deep the wheels were stuck, he replied: “About up to a monkey’s eyebrow.”

3. Boring, Oregon: Enthusiastically dubbed “an exciting place to call home” by its inhabitants, although it appears the most adrenalin-pumping activity to do is sink a few brews and pot a few pool balls at The Not So Boring Bar & Grill. Boring is named after William Harrison Boring, a Union solider and pioneer whose family settled in the area in 1856. Boring formed a pairing with the town of Dull, Scotland and marks this relationship every August 9 with Boring and Dull Day. Last year, Boring and Dull made it a triumvirate with the Australian town of Bland, and are looking at adding the American towns of Ordinary and Dreary to the club.

4. F..king, Austria: Pronounced Fooking, the Austrian village is believed to have derived its name from a Bavarian nobleman called Focko. The name evolved to its current spelling — the same as the English language’s most infamous swear word. English tourists flock to F..king to have photographs taken in front of town signs, which were stolen as souvenirs with such regularity that a vote was held on whether to change the town’s name. Residents voted against it, saying “everyone here knows what it means in English but for us F..king is F..king and it’s going to stay F..king”. The signs were replaced with theft-resistant ones and CCTV cameras were installed to discourage summertime tourists romping naked in front of them.

Theodore planted a kiss on the winner’s trophy and held it aloft at the after-party.

“U-S-A, U-S-A,” chanted fellow American representatives from Burnt Corn, Alabama; Possum Grape, Arkansas; Dismal, Tennessee; Peculiar, Missouri; Nipple, Utah; Erect, North Carolina; and Satan’s Kingdom, Vermont.

He received a rib-cracking hug from a guy from No Name, Colorado, who informed him with a hearty laugh that “you’ll find us between No Name Canyon and No Name Creek”.

A tiny man with the place tag “Gofuku, Japan” safety-pinned to his chest, bowed reverently while there were nods of acknowledgement from other international entrants including Condom, France; Windpassing, Ukraine; Moron, Mongolia; Punkeydoodle’s Corners, Canada; and Poo, Spain.

The Australians were into drinking games involving larrikins from Boing Boing, NSW; Humpty Doo, Northern Territory; Useless Loop, WA; and Pimpinbudgie, Qld.

The English were doing what they do best. Complaints in writing were busily being penned by stiff-upper-lipped delegates from Cock-up, Upton Snodsbury, Pucklechurch, Barton in the Beans, Curry Mallet, Droop, Crudwell, Blubberhouses, Pity Me and Great Snoring.

Theodoe felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see a man wearing board shorts, an All Blacks jersey and jandals.

“Kia ora, mate, I’m from Poverty Bay. We’re looking at changing our name. Any advice?”

Theodore stroked his beard, nodded his head and replied: “How about Pestilence, Perversion or Pollution?”

Chris Taewa