tail in the air

(Some vernacular sex talk along the way, so some judgment might be called for.)

It started with Dave Hause on ADS-L reporting this item from the seekingalpha site  (with the crucial bit boldfaced below):

The next wave of media consolidation will surely be on investors’ minds today following AT&T’s weekend agreement to buy Time Warner. Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA), Scripps Networks (NYSE:SNI), AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX), Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF), Viacom (VIA, VIAB), and CBS already had their tails in the air on Friday afternoon as merger talk between AT&T and Time Warner heated up.

Hause reflected:

I may be off but I would interpret “tails in the air” as cat body language, “sexually receptive.” Maybe less suggestively as “seeking a dominant partner.”

There are actually two figurative interpretations here: one alluding to cat body language (in which an upraised tail communicates contentment and confidence) and one alluding to sexual receptivity signals in mammals (in which females raise their tails — and, often, back up to males — to communicate readiness for coitus).

Meanwhile, figurative (both metaphorical and metonymic) senses of tail — ‘penis’, ‘vagina’, ‘buttocks’, ‘anus’ — impinge on both of these figurative uses of raise (one’s) tail and similar idiomatic expressions, like put/have (one’s) tail (up) in the air.

Feline confidence and contentment. Any number of websites tell us that when a cat’s tail is held upright, it signals that the cat is happy and confident, an interpretation exploited by writer Jack Newcastle in his forthcoming (in December) book from Jack Sprat Press, With My Tail in the Air: The Illustrated Story of A Man, A Girl, and His Cat!:

Newcastle’s own (studiedly retro) description of the book:

Poor Josh Jenkins. Being at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder, he knows the girl of his dreams is way out of reach. Yet, that’s about to change as the self-admitted schnook, schmuck, and shmeggege begins to take on the traits and personality of a certain little fellow who has finagled his way into the apartment.

Written in response to charge that it’s odd for a man to keep a cat, With My Tail in Air  is the perfect read for all cool cats, hepcats, daddy-os, greasers, swingers, playboys, jazzheads, and eggheads, or anyone who wants to be one.

And his account of himself:

A native of the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, NY, Jack Newcastle attributes his lifelong interest in mid-20th Century culture to his nearly ritualistic after-school viewings of television and film of that era. Through the courtesy of local broadcasters, it was on a daily basis that he was presented with fast-talking dames of the 40s, British buffoons of the 50s, and well-dressed but rather inept playboys of the 60s, all of them occupying a world he thought far more appealing than the one outside his 1970s window.

It is only after a long stretch of writing songs and performing with noisy pop bands that he took to writing fiction, with The Fine Art of Mixing Girls being his first novel. He lists British literary giants Kingsley Amis, Graham Greene, and Anthony Burgess as his primary influences, and yet to this day he maintains that the 1960s situation comedy Green Acres is brilliant theatre of the absurd. With his cat, he still resides in the city that used to be New York.

Meanwhile, back in academia, Quote Investigator Garson O’Toole wrote on ADS-L this morning supportimg the Happy Cat interpretation of tails in the air:

The website seekingalpha.com has used the expression “tails in the air” repeatedly. The examples suggest that organizations with “their tails in the air” have been impinged positively by a news event. Anthropomorphically speaking the organizations are happy.

Sexual receptivity. I’m inclined to follow O’Toole here, though the Fuck Me Please interpretation is more entertaining — and FMP manages to combine the root sense of tail with its metonymic extension to the rump of an animal (including the buttocks of a human being) and the further metonymic extension from ‘rump, buttocks’ to ‘vagina’ (and to suggest a further metaphorical extension, in gay usage, from ‘vagina’ to ‘anus’) — so it hits all the sexualized senses of tail except the metaphorical (shape-based) extension to ‘penis’. The larger point is that FMP connotes receptivity and submission.

The crucial element in FMP is raising the hips, putting the rump up in the air. From Wikipedia:

Lordosis behavior, also known as mammalian lordosis (Greek lordōsis, from lordos “bent backward”) or presenting, is a body posture adopted by some mammals including humans, elephants, rodents, felines and others, usually associated with female receptivity to copulation. The primary characteristics of the behavior are a lowering of the forelimbs but with the rear limbs extended and hips raised, ventral arching of the spine and a raising, or sideward displacement, of the tail.

Or, as in “Sex positions for gay men” (from 2/12/16):

(4) bottom kneeling (a genicular fuck), commonly called doggie/doggy-fucking

— or, in crude terms, taking it like a bitch.

Putting it (up) in the air.  Though this is probably totally irrelevant to media consolidation, sometimes putting your tail / ass  / butt (up) in the air is just a dance move. Consider Baracuda’s 2005 tune “Ass Up”, with its jaunty chorus:

put your ass in the air
put your ass up in the air [x3]
put your ass in the air
move around like you don’t care

Easy lyrics to memorize. You can watch Baracuda’s official video here. On the band, from Wikipedia:

Baracuda is a German dance project founded by Axel Konrad and Ole Wierk of Suprime Records in the Winter of 2002. Baracuda {also] consists of Tobias Lammer, otherwise known as DJ Toby Sky, and vocalist Suny.

… in July 2005 Baracuda released their third single, “Ass Up”.

Buttocks-out dancing goes back a bit. From Wikipedia

Grinding, also known as juking, freak dancing or freaking (in the Caribbean, wining) is a type of close partner dance where two or more dancers rub or bump their bodies against each other, this is generally with a female dancer rubbing her buttocks against a male dancer’s crotch area.

Grinding gained widespread popularity as a hip hop dance in night clubs, and eventually moved on to high school and middle school dances (especially proms) in the US and Canada [roughly 2001-2011], where there have been cases of administrators attempting to ban it due to its explicit nature.

A predecessor to grinding as a sexually charged high-contact social dance was “The Bump”, popular in the 1970s, in which the contact between partners generally involved the hips or buttocks of one dancer “bumping” those of the other dancer in temporary contact. Other predecessor elements of grinding may be attributed to the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, and the lambada, a brief dance craze of the 1980s that featured grinding actions [and of course the bump and grind of striptease performances]

(And then came twerking.)


One Response to “tail in the air”

  1. Alon Says:

    I found the FMP interpretation being primed by the name of the site; ’seeking alpha’ seems to me a perfectly suitable name for the sub-looking-for-Dom section of a personal ads board!

    Then again, I rarely have occasion to discuss alpha stock (‘designating stocks and shares in the first category — those most intensively traded — in a system that classifies stocks available through the Stock Exchange Automated Quotation system’, says the OED). The ethological concept, in contrast, is very much part of common parlance.

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