Have you ever seen that episode of The Simpsons where Bart and Lisa meet a mad professor and they can see into the future?
Bart as a teenager with a big belly in development is pretty funny, but the moment that made me hoot with laughter was one of those passing vignettes the show is so good at.
The scene pans over a futurist streetscape and as it reaches a shop hoarding saying "Plastic Surgery", Selma - or it could have been Patty; one of Marge's dreadful sisters, anyway - walks out of the building. She is sporting a fine bushy tail. I shrieked. Mainly because I've always wanted a tail and what a brave new world it would be that had such plastic surgery in it.
I mean, why not! I think a tail would be not only devilishly attractive, but awfully useful. Monkeys use their tails as a fifth limb, but you can also be very expressive with one, as any pet owner knows.
My friend's dog, Ollie, practically takes off wagging his tail when pack members like myself arrive at the house. We often comment that it's a shame we couldn't harness his tail-wagging energy for the national grid.
But it's probably cats that take the language of tails to the highest level. I adore it when a cat stalks into a room with its tail held aloft at a perfect right angle to its butt, anus fully revealed. It's so incredibly snobby and most felines seem to do it when there are visitors. "You may briefly inhabit my sitting room, oh pitiful unknown human. I will allow it. But you must admire me."
My own furry lump, Ellie, conveys irritation very eloquently with tail twitching, developing into full swishing, when I groom her (she finds it very insulting). Once the tail starts to whack slowly from side to side, I know I have only a few seconds before serious injury. Ouch!
One of my favourite Simpson quotes:
Homer: "How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?"
Marge: "That's because you were drunk!"
My cats Wilson & Ellie in Nov 2006 waiting at the door to be let out. Their tails are in perfect sync.