Thursday, October 15, 2009

The origin of name

Jeez, between Jordan and Stephanie, plus Tara saying nice things about me, my ego is going to start getting too big. Fortunately I have people like Indigo to make sure things don't get out of control.

Although I noticed Tara expressed confusion over the title of the blog. Now, I'm pretty sure at some point I've mentioned where the title comes from. But I figured if I did it would have been during the first couple of dozen posts of the blog. But if it's there, I can't see it. Plus, there's about 1,500 posts on the blog at this point. I'm really not going to go through all those posts to find out if I've explained it already.

So instead, a retelling of the origin of the phrase "Townie Bastard". If you know this or have already read it on the blog, my apologies and feel free to skip this post. For those of you new to these parts, here we go.

Ten years ago I worked with The Packet, a community newspaper in Clarenville, Newfoundland. I've said many glowing things about my time there, in particular my former editor, and still good friend, Barbara Dean-Simmons. However, it was a work place where you had to keep on your toes. I was the only male on a staff of eight (six in Clarenville, two in Bonavista). Plus, I was the only person from St. John's.

For those of you not from Newfoundland, understand that among the many things that can be used to divide and segregate people from Newfoundland and Labrador, there is one very basic one. You are either from St. John's (ie. a Townie) or you're not (ie. a bayman). I've had people from Grand Falls, which is some distance from the nearest body of salt water express their displeasure at this, but that's just the way it goes.

So I was a male townie in an office filled with bay women. Clever bay women. Women who were not afraid to take the piss out of the resident townie. Plus, I was a male, so as far as they were concerned I was doubly disadvantaged. So there was a regular give and take in the office. Tea break, which was around 10:30 each morning, was frequently Torture the Townie. The only way to survive this was to give as good as I got.

I'm not saying any of this was mean spirited. It wasn't. It was just very advanced mocking and teasing. Not for beginners type stuff. If you couldn't take it and dish it back out, well, you weren't going to last long.

As I recall it's Bonnie Goodyear, who was a sale rep on staff, who coined the phrase. I had just come back to the office and went into the break room. I was venting about traffic. Clarenville has about 7,000 people only has two traffic lights, but the place can be silly trying to get around sometimes. So I was complaining that nobody in the goddamn town knew how to drive.

"I suppose now you're going to blame all the women drivers out there for making your day difficult," she said.

"No, actually I was going to complain about all the fucking baymen who don't know how to drive," I responded.

(This was like an addendum to an earlier discussion in the office about how driving in St. John's had gotten ridiculous because, as far as I was concerned, all the baymen coming into St. John's to do their shopping on the weekends didn't know how to handle things like traffic lights. It was a theory that did not make me popular.)

And I got her. It was just that little "oh, you little prick" moment that came when I knew I scored a clean blow. I think even Barb was laughing, knowing I'd scored a hit.

Bonnie's response? "Oh, you friggin' townie bastard."

So there you go. The origin of the phrase. And it works for me because I am a townie, and I love mocking people not from St. John's. I swear to you, there are times I have no idea how Cathy and I survived the first few months of dating given how many times I mocked Mount Pearl. Yes, those are the mad dating skillz I possess, where I try to woo a woman by mocking where she grew up.

I realize the name doesn't work in a northern sort of way (although lord know plenty of Nunavummiut hate Iqaluit). But as I pointed out yesterday, your blog has to be more than just a northern blog if you're going to survive.

Anyway, now you know.

Last Five
1. Work out fine - Joel Plaskett Emergency
2. Stick with me baby - Robert Plant and Allison Krauss
3. The ledge - Fleetwood Mac
4. Slow dancing in a burning room - John Mayer*
5. Somehow, someday - Ryan Adams


Pat the Wench said...

5,000 people and three traffic lights ... I guess townies can't count.

Anonymous said...

Townie, I had a hunch the origin of your name involved a story like this.
A story well told.
I'd give my eye teeth to be in that break room that day. Bet you could cut through the tension.
A score well hit!

towniebastard said...

So since I left in 2001, you've gained a traffic light, but lost a couple of thousand people.


Adam Snider said...

Careful what you say about those folks from Grand Falls...they'll cut your throat...even if they have a serious hate on for the place and never intend to move back.

Pat the Wench said...

There were NEVER 7,000 people in Clarenville, dude.