Monday, March 31, 2008

Fort Dwayne

A few weeks ago I was on a road trip with some friends and our pre-mapped route provided us the underwhelming privilege of experiencing Fort Wayne, Indiana. I'm sure Fort Wayne has something going for it, and I have even thought to call Mayor Tom Henry to ask what exactly that is, but I've just not gotten around to it. Wikipedia tells me that Fort Wayne is defined partly by the geographic anomaly of being nearly equidistant from Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Columbus. This is sort of like being the asshole of the Midwest. The city in which my Alma Mater is located has the similar distinction of being located almost exactly between Austin and Dallas. The result is that the city -and I use "city" loosely- has been confined to a history of mediocrity and underdevelopment. I remember thinking upon my arrival at the campus that the city seemed to be shingle-tacked together with things that fell off trucks making the trip between Austin and Dallas. Downtown was dead and the leaking urban sprawl blazed all the glory of a melted wad of gum in a hot summer parking lot. Most of the sensible people who grew up there had long since scattered to one of the big cities. Fort Wayne has the same sort of atmosphere...but more so.

It was in this state of observation that I realized Fort Wayne is not accurately named. At least, the name does not seem to fit the character of the city. Wayne is a classy name. It's Old English and means "wagon builder." I don't know too much about Old England , but I'm sure the wagon builder was a solid member of the community and a staple of the emerging gentry post Dark Ages. Sort of like a precursor to Ford back when that name meant something. John Wayne. Bruce Wayne. Wayne Gretzky. There are some pretty important and culturally significant Waynes out there. An Academy Award winner. Batman. The greatest hockey player of all time. Wayne is a good name. Too good for Fort Wayne, and certainly not in keeping with the character of the present populace, which is why I am proposing a name change.

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit for your approval: Fort Dwayne.

I love it. I love it because it fits. "Dwayne" is Gaelic in origin and means "swarthy". If there's one thing Fort Wayne is, it's swarthy, and I'm not talking about demographics. It just seems to be a dirty city, as if the accumulated exhaust from all of those trucks on their way to Detroit or Cincinnati or Columbus or Indianapolis or Chicago has tainted the whole city and left with its character. That, and the guy in the gas station we stopped at who was looking at porn and chewing on a massive wad of tobacco looked like he could be a Dwayne. Is there anything more perfect?

So, let's make this happen. All in favor of Fort Dwayne, stand up and be counted! Get on the horn to Mayor Tom Henry and demand Fort Wayne, in the name of justice, truth, and progress, rename itself Fort Dwayne. If they (or he) ask you why, respond, "You live there, right?"


K said...

"Wayne is a classy name."

I think I've just lost all faith that I ever had in you, your vivid description of Waco notwithstanding.


Rachel said...

I'm with K here. Did you know Wayne is actually the most common middle name of serial killers? True fact.

I heart the image of Waco being put together from truck detritus on I-35, though.