Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid |

Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Near where I live, in central Colorado, there’s a town called Silt that long has had issues with its name. It seems like every few years, the young people of Silt spearhead a drive to change the name only to be rebuffed by their elders, who don’t seem to mind living in a place whose name is synonymous with – and I quote – “ooze, slime, mud, sludge, mire, sediment.”

Admittedly, Silt is not the most inspiring of monikers, but then Silt isn’t the most inspiring of towns. This is not to say there’s anything wrong with the place. It’s just that when a town has a population of fewer than 3,000 and its sole claim to fame is a controversial stone sculpture featuring a man’s bare buttocks, there’s not a whole lot to get excited about.

Silt does, however, have a great town slogan – “Silt happens!” – even if it’s not exactly accurate. And now Silt can take solace in knowing that its name isn’t among the top 10 most unfortunate town names in America, which, in Silt, is probably every bit as much of a claim to fame as the butt sculpture.

The list of top 10 most unfortunate town names was announced last week, and I have to say I take exception to it for a couple of reasons. Sure, the winner (or loser, depending on how you look at it) does have one of the most unfortunate names I’ve ever heard of – Toad Suck, Ark. – but the other nine aren’t really that bad.

For instance, second place went to Climax, Ga., which doesn’t strike me as unfortunate at all. In my experience, climaxes are generally good things, even if they happen way too soon, and numerous other states, among them Colorado, New York and Minnesota, also have towns named Climax. I can only assume that the reason Georgia’s Climax is considered more unfortunate is because it’s in Georgia, which kind of makes sense.

Two of the towns on the list – Hooker, Okla. (No. 4), and Loveladies, N.J. (No. 8) – have names that not only don’t seem unfortunate; they probably make lots of men more likely to visit. And one town – Monkey’s Eyebrow, Ky. (No. 10) – has a name that is just flat-out awesome. I have no idea how a town in Kentucky (monkey population: zero) ended up with a name like that, but you can’t deny it’s cool.

No. 5 – Assawoman, Md. – is pretty bad, but, like Hooker and Loveladies, it probably generates its fair share of male tourists hoping to meet the woman in question. The remaining four – Boring, Ore. (No. 3), Belchertown, Mass. (No. 6), Roachtown, Ill. (No. 7), and Squabbletown, Calif. (No. 9) – all are mildly unfortunate, but as I can’t think of any jokes to make about them, I shall gloss over them instead.

My bigger problem with the list, though, is that it was determined by a poll in the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, in addition to the U.S. The fact that only U.S. town names were considered strikes me as a little mean. Why didn’t the poll include those other countries in the interest of fairness?

I mean, if you really want a town with an unfortunate name, look no further than Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales, which I passed through recently. The meaning of the name – “St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St. Tysilio with a red cave” – isn’t particularly awful, but when there’s no conceivable way to pronounce the name of a town correctly, that’s what I would consider unfortunate.

Then, of course, there are Twatt, England; Bastardstown, Ireland; Billy Butts Pond, Canada; Chinaman’s Knob, Australia; and Waipu (pronounced “why poo?”), New Zealand. (I could go on, as England alone has hundreds of ridiculous place names, but I think that’s enough.)

My point, I guess, is that any country that speaks English is going to have some unfortunately named towns. For the rest of those countries to single out places in the U.S. is just another example of the world’s growing anti-U.S. bias, and I, for one, won’t stand for it any longer.

Furthermore, if the people in those countries really understood anything about the U.S., they’d know that Toad Suck is downright fortunate compared with the town with the real most unfortunate name. I won’t say what the name of that town is, but I think the people of Newark, N.J., already know.

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