(~5 minutes to read)
The “XXXy McXXXFace” meme/fad seems to have gained a life of its own and spread to places one would never have expected it to. For many, the most famous example is “Boaty McBoatFace”, a suggestion made for the name of a polar research vessel in the UK. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find references to, for example, “Hooty McOwlface”, an owl that was sponsored through an adopt-a-bird program in 2012.
More recent examples include “Trainy McTrainface” on the side of a train in south-west England, a statue of a horse in Sydney, Australia named “Horsey McHorseface”, and a ferry (also in Sydney, Australia) called “Ferry McFerryface”.
Inspired by the popularity of such names and several (seemingly unrelated?) claims of Russian interference in the voting processes of western countries, I imagined the following meeting of a town’s planning department.
Sharri Blake called the meeting to order.
“Next on the agenda is the naming of the new clock in the town square,” she said. “Derek, what have you got for us?”
“Thanks, Sharri,” said Derek. “As you know, Council had directed that in keeping with recent trends, prominent public landmarks should be named, and that where possible, residents should be consulted.
“Most of the suggestions we received are listed in your meeting packages. The rest were dropped for reasons of propriety, so you won’t see “The Worlds Biggest Clock”—because it isn’t; “Handy McDandy”—because the final design was a digital clock and doesn’t have hands; “Little Ben”—because Big Ben is a bell not a clock; or “My Face Is Prettier than Karen’s”—which is, we assume, a somewhat unflattering reference to our Mayor.”
Sharri looked round the table at the faces of her team, and smiled as she imagined clock hands attached to their noses. Her team thought she was being friendly and sunny.
“Let’s take a moment to peruse the list, and maybe shout out a few of your faves,” she said. “Dave can write them down, and we’ll use his notes to create a shortlist for Council.”
A short period of silence ensued while people polished their glasses, one person swapped her contact lenses eye-for-eye, and Dave searched for something to write on.
“What about ‘Clocky McClockface’?” asked Sammy, a person of indeterminate age, gender and ethnicity at the far end of the table.
Dave noted the suggestion, eager to not have a blank sheet of paper in front of him.
“I’m sorry; who are you?” asked Sharri. “I realize I should know everyone on my team, but I don’t know you. And you look so generic that you could be any one of us, but… really… who are you?”
The rest of the table stared. Sammy turned red.
“My apologies, ladies, gentlemen, and others,” said Sammy. “I’m actually a stranger who walked in off the street and managed to get into this meeting unchallenged. Security’s a bit lax, if you ask me.”
“We didn’t ask you,” replied Sharri. “Nor did we invite you. Please leave now, or I shall call Security, and you’ll see just how lax Luigi is.
“By the way, what gender, age and ethic origin are you?”
But Sammy had already left, the corks that hung from her hat swinging to the rhythm of her arthritic gait.
“I think it was a middle aged, male New Zealander,” offered Dave.
The door opened again. “I’m a bloody Aussie, you whingeing pommy bastard!” said Sammy, and slammed the door.
“But I’m South African,” protested Dave.
“Let’s return to the clock naming, shall we?” suggested Sharri.
“’Town Square Clock’ seems like a good choice,” said Derek. “Unpretentious, simple, and everyone will know what you’re talking about.”
“I think Council might attract a little criticism if they’re seen to have spent taxpayers’ money on a survey to come up with a name for the town square clock, and the result is “Town Square Clock.”
“But the initial caps make it a proper noun,” protested Derek.
“I like ‘Square Time Device’,” said Emily, a mouse of a girl sitting opposite Dave.
“Hmmm. ‘STD’. I think someone’s having fun with us,” said Sharri.
“What about ‘Square Time Instrument’ then…” returned Emily.
“Are you kidding? ‘STI’? Someone’s definitely having fun,” said Sharri. “Anyone else?”
“’Tick Tock Click Clock’ has a nice rhythm to it,” opined Enid, the team’s karaoke champion. “I could sing a name like that!”
“Can you imagine the Mayor announcing the official dedication of ‘Tick Tock Click Clock the new town clock’?” asked Sharri. “I didn’t think so.”
Dave’s notes so far contained just one name—Sammy’s choice. He decided to try and double the list.
“How about ‘iTime’? It’s not on the list—it’s one I just thought of. Everyone’s using i-this and i-that for names these days—they like to make a connection with Apple’s devices.”
“Hmmm…” said Sharri. “Put it on the list. Any others?” asked Sharri.
“Well, I do like ‘Clocky McClockface’, said Derek. “It was suggested over thirty thousand times on our online survey, and it does tie in nicely with all the other ‘Mc’s’ that have sprung up over the world.”
“Thirty thousand, you say?” said Sharri. “In a town of twenty-two thousand? Is there any sign of the Russians having had a hand in inflating that number?”
“Nyet… I mean, no,” stuttered Derek.
“You’re not Russian, are you Derek?” asked Sharri. Derek shook his head vigorously.
“Good, good,” she said. “Now—are there any other faves from the list? Any other suggestions?”
Derek looked around the table. “How about ‘Reddy McRedface’?” he suggested.
“No more Russian references, or it’s off to the salt mines for you! Anything else?”
The ticking of the clock on the wall got louder as the awkward silence got longer.
“Good,” she said. “What do we have on the list, Dave?”
“We have ‘Clocky McClockface’ and ‘iTime’,” said Dave.
“We should flag one of them as our recommendation to Council,” said Sharri. “Those in favour of ‘Clocky McClockface’?” Hands were raised. “And those for ‘iTime’?” Dave raised his hand.
“Okay, so we note on the shortlist that ‘Clocky McClockface’ is our recommendation. On to the next item on the ag…”
Замечательно! Спасибо! exclaimed Sammy from the now-open door. “Wonderful! Thank you!” she said, and closed the door.
“She’s not a real Aussie,” said Enid.