IN A CITY with a place called Foggy Bottom just a hoot and a holler down the road from the White House, people from places like Plains, Ga., shouldn't let it bother them when they tell where they hail from.
People who come from places with picturesque-sounding names like to tell about their hometowns, and always with a little bit of pride and a wisp of a smile.
The new folks might say, "I'm from Druid Hills" or maybe "Peachtree" rather than Atlanta, wanting it to sound more like Plains.
To brace yourself during the next four years when you will probably hear a lot of odd or funny sounding names, you can leaf through the postal directory and a few other books that list towns.
Almost everyone has heard of a couple of towns whose names are appealing for their quaintness.
When asked they will come up with names like "Truth or Consequences" but can't remember whether it was in Arizona or New Mexico. Someone else will be emphatic about Oatmeal, Neb. or Painted Post, N.Y.
Some cheerleader on a Saturday afternoon must have led a cheer for towns with names like Monkey's Eyebrows, Ky., Hot Coffee, Miss.; Igloo, S.D.; Lookinglass, Ore.; or Loogootee, Ind.
On an unusually cold morning in Washington I called Hot Coffee, Miss.; instead of Igloo, S.D., to see how Hot Coffee came by its name.
The mayor's office was in Taylorsville, and when deputy town clerk Ennis Hull heard the reason for the call, "towns with odd-sounding names," she asked me how to pronounce my name again.
"The legend has it," she said in a soft Mississippi accent, "that it was a stop for loggers around the late 1800s. The loggers would say. 'Let's go get a cup of hot coffee.' So they began to call it Hot Coffee.
"It's just a Ill ole stop in the road. It's a four-way crossroad with a grocery store owned by R. J. Knight."
Just before she hung up, she asked, "What did you say your name was again?"
While looking through the directory you find that for almost every North there is a South, for every East a West, and if there is a lower, when you get to the Us there is an Upper for that city or town.
There is a simplicity of acceptance in the young that eventually leaves us all, unfortunately. A child of a friend who grew up in the Boston area returned from a summer in England and settled names of towns very quickly when she told her father, "The English named a lot of places after the place around Boston."
I came across Small, Tex, but according to the population figures, no one lives there.
Another place with no population figures, if anyone cares to look, is Peek, Ore.
Towns with funny names and very few inhabitants, maybe because of the names, are Recluse, Wyo., 15; Chicken, Alaska, 20; and Igingig, Alaska, 20.
Entrance Isle in Alaska lists three people for a population figure, and you wonder if they are related.
There are Echo's in Alabama, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas and Utah.
Garibaldi got into Oregon and Braggadocio into Missouri.
Happy, Tex, has to have a tax collector who, for a few days a year, wrecks the name.
You wonder what went wrong the day someone named a town in Alabama, Burnt Corn.
If you come from a town called Cactus, Tex, it will comfort you tonknow that there is another town with that name in Arizona.
Maybe the city managers felt that they could save on printing costs when they named their town, Cut, Tex.
In Louisiana the city founders added Off to make it Cut Off. Back in Texas, Cut and Shoot is the hometown of one time heavyweight challenger Roy Harris who was knocked out by Floyd Patterson in the 12th round in 1958.
Whoever Happy Jack was, he has towns in both Arisona and Louisiana named for him.
There is Sleepy Eye, Minn; Sublime, Tex; Smackover, Ark; Goodnews, Alaska; and a town that is like a sound in the night, Eek, Alaska.
Talking Rock, Tell and Ty Ty are all in Georgia. About 150 people live in Tomato, Ark; 75 in Twitty, Tex; and 100 in Tinytown, Colo.
There are names that are less funny than descriptive: Battle Creeks, Grounds, Harbours, Lakes, Mountains. And a name that just sounds nice - Beagel, Kans.
Maybe the same antelope spent the night in both Kansas and Montana because each has such a town.
The elk and the moose were not left out of town names, nor was the alligator who found a town in Mississppi.
Centerfield, Utah, with 475 people, must have turned out at least one ballplayer who made it somewhere.
The population of Fertile, Iowa, is only 386. Success, Ark, with 228 citizens is more successful than Success, Mo., with 55.
Prosperity, Fla., 757, is a perhaps more properous than Prosperity, S.C., which 70 people call home.
Seventy-five people found Lost City, W. Va, and probably enjoy living there.
Maybe the postal service is faster in Quick City, Mo., and you wonder what the speed limit is.
So if you are from a place that's near a town with a funny sounding name it's really not unfair to mention it and to say you live in the area. Who knows, there might be another person in the crowd from nearby Weeping Water, Neb., and everyone can smile.