When Laetitia’s morning coffee finished brewing, she walked into the library and scanned the bookshelves looking for inspiration. She found Bailey and Hurst’s Rude World, one book in their trilogy about rude place names. When she toured the UK, her groups visited many of the places listed in their books, but she hadn’t done that recently. Scanning the index she found one listing in Quebec, “Fanny.” Laetitia’s map indicated that it was east of Quebec City and north of the Saint Lawrence River, just off highway 389.
Laetitia’s group left Quebec City and drove east along the north shore of the river, and then north toward their destination. Most of Canada is bilingual, but in Quebec the road signs are often just in French. The area has abundant wildlife, especially moose, and there are signs advising drivers to be alert. Generally, the signs depict the silhouette of a moose and words of warning in French such as nuit danger (night danger), prudence (caution), or risqué (risk). In Laetitia’s group were mostly Americans unfamiliar with French and “prudence” or “risqué” have different meanings in English. The group viewed the juxtaposition of the signs as they went further into the wilderness as a commentary on the declining morality of the moose population, going from prudence to risqué, as they got further from civilization.
The group arrived at Lac Fanny to find “Fanny” was name of a dirt road connecting campsites. There was no hotel, restaurant, or bar for happy hour. However there was a camp of fisherman who had just come ashore with a good catch and who invited the group to join them for a shore dinner. Laetitia wondered whether she was just lucky, or whether the invitation came because her group was mostly young and female.
During some after-dinner beers around the campfire, one of the fishermen had a story about a lad who arrived looking for putain (a prostitute). He was from a small town, and some men in a bar back home told him that the prevalence of ladies of that persuasion was the source of the name of the local lake and street. The fishermen laughed and sent him back home to his girlfriend. Laetitia’s group seemed baffled until she sent a whispered message around the circle that “poontang” was a corruption of “putain.” The story provided the limerick of the day.
A profligate lad whose agenda
Was to chase after female pudenda
Proved not to be canny
When he came to Fanny
So he was sent back home to Glenda.