I used to live near a deli in the East Village called TS Deli. I got to the point where I couldn’t pass by it without saying to the person next to me, “Hold up. I need to run into TS Deliot for a sec.” Ugh.
I don’t know why I love wordplay so much. At age six I was cast as the letter G in a gradeschool jazz tap production of the alphabet. I wore a red sequin leotard and scowled (my mother refused to send me the only surviving photographic evidence of this for the purposes of a blog) but I remember getting a kick out of trying to spell dirty words backstage with our costumes. Maybe that’s when this all started?
Wednesday at work, my boss received a phone call informing him that our company had accidentily named our latest summer camp after an unpopular vocational school in Ohio. “Because we haven’t gone to print yet,” he said, “we can change this.” My dream job, besides getting paid to test hammocks, is to name things. I’d nibble on my pencil for hours, periodically point to a product (there would be products on pedestals, like in Supermarket Sweep) then name it something ingenious.
This was going to be my big break! To christen a summer camp at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio!
A few weeks ago, I was sitting around Barcade with my good friend Johnny Rauschenberg. Johnny’s opening his own bar in Park Slope this spring and wants to start a reading series there. He’s a recent MFA graduate, too, which is why he’s opening a bar. Anyway, after a couple of high alcohol content lagers, I was coming up with gems like The Robert Frosty Mug Reading Series and Poetry Grows In Brooklyn. So I felt primed for the Heidelberg challenge.
I had never been payed to pun before. The pressure was on. I made frequent trips to the water cooler and kept refreshing my browser. Heidelberg. Heidelberg. Eventually I wrote down Camp Nice Berg (Remember that line from Titantic? “Iceberg, straight ahead!”) and Camp Free Berg (as in, Dude, play Free Berg!).
I ate some wasabi soybeans, regrouped, and decided to learn more about Ohio. When I read that the Ohio state bird is the cardinal I got angry because that’s the North Carolina state bird. Get your own bird, Ohio. Camp Cardinal sounds fake, anyway. Like it’s only a camp because it’s printed on a $30 Urban Outfitters tee-shirt.
Ohio even has a state beverage (tomato juice) and a state reptile (the black racer snake). According to one website, the black racer is a constrictor that moves quickly. So it squeezes you and then speeds away? No, wait, ’cause then it would be fat and sleepy. It must move quickly in order to catch you. I’m terrified of snakes so now I’m terrified of Ohio. What if I have to help out at camp this July and a black racer snake chases after me in Capture the Flag?
By the time I discovered Ohio’s state fossil (trilobite isotelus) my ADD had swung into full effect. I was busy outlining Camp Cramp, an accelerated program for girls about to start their periods, when the announcement was made to go with Summer Berg. I guess that’s easy to say when I answer the phone, easier than Good afternoon, Heidy-ho-del-berg!
I’ve mentioned before how much I love my job. That’s because you can’t stay disappointed long in a room with a remote control tarrantula and a skateboard and a yoga ball and a log proported to grow wild mushrooms and two ant farms and hopefully, soon, a fat tabby named Human Resources. Start-up companies are the best. We play a lot of games, like HORSE (there’s a plastic basketball hoop) and Name That Animal. Name That Animal is my favorite. I’d like to make Name That Animal a national office phenomena.
This is how it works. Turn the volume way up on your computer. Play an audio clip of an animal for your co-workers. Have them guess that animal.
Click here for some quality recordings. I recommend hippopotamus (which sounds like bad electronica) and harbor seal pup.