Welcome to our first installment of Bad Boat Puns, a seriously non-serious series inspired by what one finds oneself doing for cheap entertainment when one has spent too much time in a Deltaville, VA boatyard.
The essence of a pun is in the manipulation of words that sound similar in order to derive humor from the interplay of their different meanings. Often, as if at a demolition derby, the fun lies simply in watching Meaning Itself destroyed in the collision.
Oh, yes, boat namers are virtuosos with the pun, second in the world, I think, only to hairstylists. Hairstylists are the best. Or the worst. Depends on one’s viewpoint, really. My all-time favorite? Philadelphia’s Julius Scissor. Located in Center City, two blocks west of Rittenhouse Square. Call for your appointment.
Uh, were we talking about boats?
Not every boat name appearing in this series will qualify for inclusion solely on the basis of arbitrary phonetic wordplay. After all, there are many value-added ways to abuse the English language, and this is a value-added blog.
So we’ll look also for the forced literary allusion.
And the silly corporate salute.
And the name that forces its reader to reach through the closely spaced bars of its coiner’s obscure intention as if through a locked iron gate, grasping for some speculative interpretation just out of reach–say, for instance, for a connection to a family name or to the Industrial Era source of the family fortune–in order to ward off the creeping suspicion of a criminally careless misspelling.
And finally, taking a step away from the device, either in its strictest sense or in its highest practice, the revisited cliche. No pun intended. None detected.
It doesn’t matter much, then, that these boat names do not each function as puns in exactly the same way–or, in the last case, at all.
What does matter, and what I hope will bind them all together in this series, is one specific and singular quality they share in common: the power to make you go “What?”
And it is because of this quality that they each deserve their place in the sun.
If only, in some cases, for as long as the sun will need to bleach them out.