There's a lovely road in an elegant section of McLean that snakes westward, then hooks south into a cul-de-sac. Its name: Hooking Road.
"The reason for the name of the street is fairly obvious," said one of its residents, Mary Ellen Weber. "It has a hook at the end."
Not so obvious, say some of Weber's neighbors. They have petitioned the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to change the name of Hooking Road, which they say has "a pornographic connotation."
"There are always a lot of snide remarks about the name of the road," said Leo D. Carl, who circulated the petition calling for the street name to be changed to McLean Station Road. "Some think it's quite snazzy."
Carl said he has received letters addressed to "Hooring Road," a typographical double-entendre that he does not appreciate. "Who the heck wants to put up with that nonsense if you can help it?" he said.
The issue has divided the community of $300,000 to $400,000 contemporary styled homes. Eighteen residents signed the petition to the county board calling for Hooking to be expunged in the name of good taste. Another 17 residents did not sign, some cringing at the thought of filling out piles of address-change forms for bank accounts, mailing lists, subscriptions and letterheads. Some who signed the petition say they wish they had not.
The question of whether or not to rename the road has engendered an etymological as well as esthetic debate. While several residents say they assumed Hooking Road got its name from its curlicued western end, others find an historical reason for the name.
"It's because of General Hooker," said Carl. He said Union Gen. Joseph (Fighting Joe) Hooker lived in the McLean area for a time. He said the general was known for, among other things, the ladies of the evening who loitered near his Washington headquarters. "Those were the Hooker girls," he said with aplomb.
"I just don't like the name of the street," said resident Nasser Farouki, who signed the petition. "The neighborhood doesn't imply what the name says."
"I think of the whole thing as human foibles," said resident Mary Pockman, who did not sign the petition. She added, however, that if the name of the road is changed, "It may of course get us less junk mail, which would be nice."
The county Board of Supervisors is scheduled to take up the issue tomorrow. County Executive J. Hamilton Lambert has recommended that the name be changed in accordance with the wishes of "more than 51 percent of the homeowners." Some residents say the number of signatures is in doubt, however, and they say they contacted Dranesville Supervisor Nancy K. Falck, who represents McLean, late Friday in an effort to undo the change before it is too late. Falck could not be reached for comment.
"I can't believe the Board of Supervisors don't have better things to do with their time," said Pockman.
Dorothy Park, president of the McLean Station Homeowners Association, said that although she signed the petition and supports a change of the street's name, she would rather the matter died a quiet death.
"I'm sorry I did it, I was wrong," she said, adding that the board of directors of the homeowners association will soon review the matter