Date: Sat, 27 Jul 1996 18:19:10 -0400

From: Heilan Yvette Grimes HEP2[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: tail above the dashboard II

Joe Claro wrote:

I tried this question a couple of weeks ago and got only a few responses.


the chance that some people missed it, allow me to ask again:

In All the King's Men, two different characters say "so long" with the

expression, "Keep your tail above the dashboard." First, does anyone

recognize the expression? (Given the setting, it's a good bet that it's


Louisiana and surroundings.) It seems to mean, "Take care of yourself."

Second, what was its original meaning? A dashboard was the part of a buggy

that kept the driver from being splashed with mud. Why would it have been

important to keep a horse's tail above this fixture? (As I picture it, I

can't see it doing the horse any good. Does it protect the driver?)

Thanks to anyone who can help.


I remember this expression from when I was a teenager. It has nothing to do

with buggy dashboards. It has to do with automobile dashboards (the part of

the automobile holding the steering wheel, glove compartment, etc.). It had

to do with having sex in cars. Keep your tail above the dashboard meant don't

have sex, ergo don't get into trouble. Not a very realistic idea of what

happens in cars, but the meaning was clear.