“Grand Tetons is French for Big Tits,” I deadpanned to my passengers, as we approached the rugged mountain range.
It’s true. Well, mostly true. These mountains were originally named Les Trois Tetons (The Three Teats), by French-speaking trappers. The tallest of these teats is called Grand Teton, at 13,775 feet. So technically, there are no Grand Tetons (in the plural). There is just one Grand Teton, along with two smaller teats.
But it sounded funny, and I thought I’d get a good laugh. Nothing. Silence. It fell flat. Flatter than my ironing-board-chested sister.
And that’s when I remembered. I have religious people in the car. My brother, Rowan, and his wife, Connie, don’t care much for such language.
They haven’t been to church for years. They stopped attending after a scandal that they’ve only alluded to with sketchy, hushed details. But they claim that they’re still very religious, and believe in all that mumbo-jumbo that forms the doctrine of their faith.
The word fuck is especially taboo with them. I tried to avoid it, but there was that time I was sitting at the picnic table, and Connie served me a hamburger that looked raw inside. When she saw my deer-in-the-headlights eyeballs, she offered to cook it a little longer.
So she extended a thin fork, for the purpose of hoisting that wide, unwieldy patty from my bun, back to the grill. A poor choice in tools, as a spatula is best for such a bulky operation. Less than one second later it plopped over, falling from the fork and hitting splat on top of the dirty picnic table surface.
I’m a germaphobe, and this was all I could take. I uttered, “Fuck this procedure!” Everyone fell silent. The F-bomb, yes the fucking F-bomb, had just been dropped. Horrors. But I say, if you drop my fucking hamburger, I’m gonna drop the fucking F-bomb. I don’t care how religious you are.
Apparently, I was forgiven in a Christian way, as Connie demurely picked up the patty and returned it to the grill. And I hope like fuck all the germs were destroyed by the heat, because I ended up eating the damned, dirty thing.
Like Lenny Bruce, I believe there are no dirty words, only dirty hamburger patties. And all such patties should be condemned to the hell of a barbecue grill, for heat-sterilization, if not thrown out entirely.
The trappers were a foul-mouthed lot who appreciated so-called “dirty” humor. First, they named these mountains the Three Tits. That’s the best kind of woman to dance with. You get two in the front for rubbing against, and one in the back for playing with.
Then they named the valley below the Three Tits, Jackson Hole, after a trapper named Davy Jackson, who was the first European-American to spend the entire winter there. Ostensibly, the term Hole comes from the steep descent into this valley from the Tetons, or opposite-side Gros Ventre mountains. It gave trappers the idea that they were descending into a kind of depression you might dig with a large shovel.
But I wonder if it was just that Davy was a real asshole.
The Snake River passes through Jackson Hole, which gives rise to more ribald double-entendres. Those trappers had quite the sense of humor, I tell ya.
I was a trapper, too. I was driving, and had my religious brother and sister-in-law trapped in the back seat. I could have told more dirty jokes, but my wife, Kay, was sitting next to me, and I sensed a dirty look from her direction.
So I held my tongue and stared straight ahead, leering at the gorgeous beauty approaching. The pointy, perky, stony peaks, we commonly call The Grand Tetons.
Or, if you’ll forgive me for milking this joke further: The Big Tits.