I guess my family doesn’t come from the most distinguished lineage, because when my grandparents couldn’t come up with a middle name for my dad, they chose Barton out of the phone book (presumably they couldn’t care to proceed very deep into the phone book, either). Turns out, according to Wikipedia, that barton is an archaic English word meaning lands of the manor, which, given my dad’s fetish for period England and his fantasy of being a butler in the likes of a Jane Austen novel, seems to fit just fine.
The word flats, well, it just seemed to work – jokes fall flat, girls wear flats as a less spectacular alternative to heels, flats tend to be rather banal, featureless landscapes – plus, (at least in my mind) the combination of words encourages a perceptual spoonerism (fart-on blats, or something like that). Yes, it’s a brave new world.
For those of you searching for the Barton Flats campground in California, or the Barton Flats housing complex in Memphis, all I can say is “sorry” to have cut your grass – hope you enjoy your visit.