Day 541: French Lick

As Laetitia walked down Raglan Road toward the Emerald Victorian in the early dawn hour, a curious thought crossed her mind from her recent tour of Cincinatti. She wondered whether Bailey and Hurst had found the Licking River. After she put a pot of Sumatran dark roast on to brew, she pulled Rude World from the library shelf and perused its index. She found Beaverlick, Big Bone Lick, and Knob Lick, but no Licking River. There was also French Lick, a name that had a familiar ring to it. When she searched her memory, she remembered meeting a couple from French Lick, Indiana, when she led a tour in Bay Minette, Louisiana. She recalled telling them she would tour their hometown when the time came. She checked a map and found that it was not far from Cincinnati, so she decided to go there today.

As she planned the trip to French Lick, Laetitia thought, “The French seem to have a penchant for licking.” The French phrase for what would be called “window shopping” in the United States, is léche-vitrines, which translates as “window licking.” What is now French Lick, Indiana, was the site of a trading post during the seventeenth-century, when the French occupied the American Midwest. The town’s name came from the French trading post and a salt lick that was close by. Later, a spa and casino was built around a nearby mineral spring that reputedly had medicinal properties.

After leaving Cincinnati, Laetitia and her group stopped at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge for bird watching before proceeding on to their destination. They were headed for French Lick Resort, where most of her group had expressed an interest in using the spa. When they stopped for lunch in a small-town storefront restaurant, Laetitia was close enough to overhear the conversation of several middle-aged women in a nearby booth who had heard wonderful things about the French Lick spa and were going there for the first time. The waiter for both Laetitia’s table and the ladies’ booth was a local lad named Rick who was in his late teens. When Sal, the loudest of the women in the booth, asked Rick if he knew the way to French Lick and went on to talk about the wonderful things she had heard about its services, he blushed and then smirked as he gave her directions. The conversation gave Laetitia the limerick of the day.

“Do you know the way to French Lick?”
Said Sal to a waiter named Rick,
“They say it’s nirvana.”
“No it’s Indiana,”
Said he with a smirk that was quick.

Day 437: Slut

As the sound of exploding steam told Laetitia that the coffee pot’s brew cycle was nearly finished, she was deep in thought in the library of the Emerald Victorian about the day’s tour. She thought she might visit a typical Scandinavian community, based on the common assumption that most Minnesotans are of Scandinavian descent. When she checked the year 2010 census results, she found that, indeed, 16.8 percent reported Norwegian ancestry and 9.5 percent reported Swedish ancestry. There are smaller percentages of Danish, Finish, and Icelandic, bringing the total Scandinavian population to 32.1 percent.

Laetitia decided to check the Bailey and Hurst books to see if there were any Minnesota communities with Scandinavian names in Rude World. She didn’t find any. What she did find, however, was a place in Ekerö, near Stockholm, Sweden called Slut. She poured a cup of coffee and returned to the library to plan the day’s tour.

Laetitia met her group in Skandihoovia, Minnesota, a town of about 2,000 inhabitants, mostly of Scandinavian descent. The town’s ethnic heritage was evident in its five churches, the Finnish Lutheran, the Norwegian Lutheran, the Swedish Lutheran, the Danish Lutheran, and the Icelandic Lutheran. She and her group toured the town, with its picturesque buildings decorated with traditional Scandinavian facades and murals from fables of Hans Christian Anderson. On the courthouse square was an old-fashioned office where the county newspaper, The Skandihoovian Sun, was published. Near the town there was a replica of a typical Scandinavian village, featuring a stave church, dancing in costume, and a staged wedding where lefse, lutefisk, and aquavit were served as refreshments.

After wandering through the town with her group, Laetitia stopped at a local drinking establishment, where the bartender told her an interesting story about Sven, who came to Skandihoovia from Slut in Sweden. He had broken up with his Swedish girlfriend before he came here looking for work. He found a job and a wife in Skandihoovia, but things didn’t work out, and he returned to Sweden and his erstwhile girlfriend. His former wife, who was a bit vengeful, faked a newspaper headline in the style of the local paper and sent a copy to Sven. The bartender also had a framed copy on the wall. The story became the limerick of the day.

When Sven was young, there was a glut
Of men in the place known as Slut
Making jobs hard to find
And a financial bind
That made his life seem in a rut.

So he left Sweden on one fine day
And moved to the U. S. of A.
Where he had a few kin
In the State of M. N.
And he married a wife on the way.

Soon a column appeared in The Sun
That said that the two were now one
At the start, things were bright
But then they would fight
And their marriage was no longer fun.

But alas, as a matter of course
Their quarrels led to divorce
And a court case ensued
That was nasty and rude
Leaving Sven feeling only remorse.

So he quit his new job in M. N.
And he went back to Sweden again
Where to his enjoyment
He soon found employment
And made up with his former girlfriend.

Sven’s new life was wonderful, but
His ex, who is kind of a nut
Faked a headline for fun
In the style of The Sun
Saying, “SWEDE DUMPS WIFE; RETURNS TO SLUT.”

Day 324: Thong Throng

Thong is a hamlet in Kent, a bit south of Gravesend on the Thames, that was chosen as a destination only because of its inclusion in Rude World. Laetitia took her group to Gravesend first. They did a walkabout in this historic community that dates back at least to the eleventh century. Kent is perhaps best known for the White Cliffs of Dover, famous in song and because the narrowest crossing point of the English Channel is from Dover to Calais in northern France. Laetitia thought about taking the train through the Channel Tunnel to France and back, but the schedules wouldn’t work, so they went to Thong. The word “thong” has a number of meanings, but today, most people think of a skimpy piece of underwear or swimwear that exposes the buttocks, leading some to refer to such attire as “butt-floss.” A bartender’s story at the pub that evening about a local exhibitionist named Michelle led to the day’s limerick.

On a stroll in her hometown of Thong
Michelle thought there was nothing wrong
With wearing just that
Plus her shoes and her hat
As she waved at her large ogling throng.

Day 282: Muff Huff

As the sound of exploding steam signaled that it was time to walk into the kitchen and fill her coffee cup, Laetitia sat in the library of the Emerald Victorian planning the second day of her tour of Northern Ireland.  As she looked at her map, she noticed a town called “Muff” on the opposite shore of Lough Foyle from Derry.  It’s on the border between County Donegal and County Londonderry.  She thought she remembered seeing it in one of the Bailey and Hurst books and when she looked, found that it was No. 24 in Rude World.  When a place name appears in one of their “Rude” books, it usually means that there is at least one rude slang meaning for the word, likely unintended by the person(s) who chose the name.  In their books, Bailey and Hurst tell the derivation of the name as far as it is known, but leave it to the reader to discover the slang meaning.  Sometimes there are several, since slang evolves rapidly and may differ according to locale.  For example, British slang meanings often differ from those of American or Australian slang.

From Bailey and Hurst you get truth
About place names that may sound uncouth
But, whose actual bent
Is as innocent
As “Our Lady of Gin and Vermouth.”

Laetitia had not been in the mood for Irish music when she arrived at 7:00 am, so she had put on a compact disk from a Seattle group called The Bobs.  The members of the group all allegedly have the surname, “Bob,” sing a capella, and write their own songs which tend to be a bit quirky.  About the time Laetitia discovered Muff on her map, the Bobs album entitled Coaster had reached the third track and was playing She Made Me Name You Earl.  Laetitia had listened to the album several times before she made out the gist of the song.  It’s a conversation between a man and his penis about his inamorata who insists on giving it the name, “Earl.”  When she refers to a part of her anatomy, later in the song, as “her stuff,” he wonders if she’s talking about her “muff.”

Laetitia decided to take her group to Muff.  As she perused her guidebook for tourist activities in Muff and environs, she noted under the heading of “Muff Diving,” that Muff had a diving school.  As it turned out, most of those who joined her group thought diving would be a great way to spend the day.  Those qualified joined the SCUBA group and the others snorkeled.

At the pub that afternoon, the bartender had a story about a local woman named Kitty, who was often the butt of jokes because she was oblivious to the slang meanings of the words she used.  Once she decided to get a carpeted scratching pole for her very large cat and asked the male clerk at the pet store, “Do you have a pole big enough for my pussy?”  The story that became the limerick of the day concerned the same woman.  She invited a man to see “my Muff,” as she called her hometown and he got the wrong idea.

Ted Thomson said he’d seen enough
And walked down the street in a huff
For he thought he’d get more
Than just a town tour
When invited to see Kitty’s Muff.