"Hey, Kid, have you ever heard of fooking Austria?" Karl the Curmudgeon asked me at lunch last week.
Yes, I've heard of Austria, I said. What kind of question is that?
"No, not just Austria, fooking Austria."
I don't get it, I said. What's with the intensifier? We were sitting in First Editions, our favorite literary-themed bar, enjoying a couple of their lunch specials. I was eating the Ernest Ham-ingway, a grilled ham and cheese panini with a side of Hadley Hash Browns. Karl was enjoying the Ketchup In The Rye, which was a hamburger on rye bread with a side of Bunch of Phonies Phries.
The place was nearly empty because it was three in the afternoon. We agreed to only meet for lunch if a restaurant was mostly empty, which meant going to joints like this in the middle of the afternoon. Besides, we felt less guilty about day drinking at that time of day.
"It's not an intensifier, it's the name of the city."
Really, and the city is named Fooking?
"Well, I thought they would pronounce it differently in German, but it's spelled like F---ing," said Karl. He pronounced it exactly like you would expect it to sound when three of the letters have been overwritten with dashes.
"Language, Karl," said Kurt, the bartender. "We've talked about this."
"What? It's the name of a town in Austria. Can I help it if a real town has named itself F---ing? I'm only repeating the name of a real place."
"Is this another one of your made-up joke names, like Condom, France and Poo, Spain?" asked Kurt.
"Those are real places! Look it up!" protested Karl. "Besides, F---ing. Austria was in the news last week. It's a small town just across the German border, about an hour from a German village called Petting.
Not anymore, I said, holding up my phone.
"It's not near Petting?" said Kurt.
"It's not across the German border?" said Karl?
"Hey, do you suppose Petting leads to F---ing?" Karl asked Kurt, and they laughed with the joy of 8-year-old boys who have discovered the word "boobies."
|(Seriously, it's a real place!)|
"What, seriously?" said Karl. "Are you making that up?"
Why would I make that up? For one thing, I can say Fugging. I can't say F---ing without three of the essential letters being replaced.
Karl and Kurt pulled out their phones and began their own searches.
"Holy Fugg, it's true!" said Kurt, understanding that this is a family newspaper and he can't say F---ing, even if it's the real name of a real town. Never mind that The Guardian, Irish Times, and Canada's Global News all printed the actual name.
"Wow, that's a shame," said Karl. He took a massive bite of his sandwich and chewed while he read. "It wooks wike dey dot tahd—"
Don't talk with your mouth full, I said. I can't understand a word you're saying.
Karl finished chewing, took a giant swig of his beer, and then plonked his mug on the bar. "It looks like they got tired of all the tourists stopping to get their picture taken with their signs, or worse, stealing the signs. So a majority of the F---ingers — that's what they call the people who live there; I would have picked something better — agreed to change the name of the town as of January 1, 2021."
Well, that's disappointing, I said. It looks like the village has been around since at least 1070, but that it was a Bavarian nobleman named Focko who founded the settlement in the 600s. And now you get a bunch of idiots with cameras and cranks on the Internet who go and ruin it for everyone. They've been proudly displaying the name of F---ing for nearly a thousand years. Now they have to change their millennium-long history because of a bunch of immature morons.
"Oh, like you're not going to write about this one yourself," said Karl. "You laugh at the same stuff I do and you've probably already written half of this in your head."
That's terrible! I would never do anything like that, I said, reaching for my notebook and pen. A good writer would write it all down so they don't forget anything.
"So I guess this means there's no more F---ing in Austria!" cackled Kurt.
Kurt, I said, there's a reason you usually don't get a speaking part in these columns.
"Well, Fugg," said Kurt.
"Ha, that'll F---ing show ya!" shouted Karl.
"Language," said Kurt.
Photo credit: Tobias "ToMar" Maier (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)
My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.