Tail caps

Passed on by Chris Hansen on Facebook, this Scott Hilburn cartoon from last year:


A role-reversal joke, based on X-skin caps, caps of animal fur with the tail attached.

At the bar, from left to right:

first, a man in a coonskin cap, a cap of raccoon fur with tail attached, as here:


then, a guy in a skunkskin cap, a cap of skunk fur with tail attached, like this one:

(#3 )

These two, men with their tailed X-skin caps, set up the joke. They’re followed by a bear with its own tailed X-skin cap: a manskin cap with tail. Turnabout is fair play; the hunter has become the hunted..

Then Chris Hansen asked me,

Is this the visual that goes along with calling someone an ”asshat”?

Well, probably not Hilburn’s intention, but it’s a possible further joke, playing on slang tail ‘buttocks, ass’. And the slang slur asshead / asshat. From GDoS:

noun asshead (also asshat) (1) (US) a fool, an idiot … 1546, 1550, 1589, 1600 (Shakespeare Twelfth Night “An ass-head and a coxscomb and a knave”), 1638, 1942 [all British]; then Alison-Lurie 1965 (“You know what I want, ass-head”), Norman Mailer 1967, 2002 posting; Eble Campus Slang 2003 (“asshat – someone stupid, mean, or annoying”)

Asshat is now distinctively American, but its antecedent asshead was British, and then (apparently) adopted in the US as well, 50 or more years ago. The variant asshat seems to be genuinely recent.

One Response to “Tail caps”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Of course the “ass” in Shakespeare’s ass-head is a donkey, not a posterior. (See also Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wearing an actual ass’s head, saying “You see an ass-head of your own, do you?”)

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