Monday, April 23, 2012

Fucking Austria

Life often consists of a series of delicate questions requiring more or less delicate solutions. Here's a real one I give you: what would you properly call a resident of fucking Austria? An Austrian? a fucking Austrian?

I've misled you a bit - the question should be, what do you call a resident of Fucking, Austria? The natural reponse would be, "a Fucker," right? But that's not quite it, either. It would properly be, "a Fuckinger," because . . . well, because if a person from Munich is a "MΓΌnchner," then a person from Fucking is a "Fuckinger." That's the way they do things in the former Roman provinces of Germania and Noricum. Geography is not as easy as it might seem - it has its finer points.

             (The Roman Empire, before there was Fucking)       

(Incidentally, the question as I've posed it amply demonstrates the power of proper capitalization and punctuation. It's one thing to ask what you'd call a resident of Fucking, Austria, quite another to ask . . . but I'm sure you see my point. Similarly, it's one thing to help your Uncle Jack off his horse, quite another to help your uncle jack off his horse. Should these - capitalization and punctuation - become lost arts, all the saints in heaven will not prevail.)

The town's name, which is correctly pronounced "foo-king," is viewed as a liability in some quarters. The road signs around town are prized items, meaning regularly prized from the poles they're mounted on, probably by the same American servicemen who drive across the border from Germany to be photographed beside them; the residents tire of prank phone callers, one local complaining that "When you order something from a catalog, for example, and you give the address, there’s snickering, always snickering."

Lothar Lerch, who has highlighted the town for the website Virtual Tourist, recommends a road trip from Kissing, Germany to Fucking, Austria. A direct route takes just over two hours, but he advises a scenic route including stops in Petting or Tittmoning. Frankly, two hours is more than I've ever been able to manage.

And so predictably there is a movement afoot to change the town's name, which is an obvious target in an age of conformity, jejeune Americanized humor, and all our significant prose constructs in text messaging. The initiative does not have the consensus of all 104 Fuckingers - "The only problem is that we need all of the Fucking residents to agree to the name change," Mayor Franz Meindl concedes, seeming though not intending to asperse his fellow townspeople.

Still, I suppose the problem could be worse than it is. Would you rather live in Fucking Twatt or Clousta Fuck?

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