10 11 2013

Recently, I sat down to watch one of my favorite movies-American Graffiti. When it came to the scene in which the girl moons Terry, it got me to thinking…who was the first to think that would be a good way to convey a message? And what’s the history of mooning?

A little quick research showed the first recorded incidence of mooning was recorded by the historian, Josephus. According to Wikipedia (so we know it’s true), Josephus recorded that in 66 A.D. a Roman soldier flipped up his skirt in insult to a crowd of Jews celebrating Passover.

The First Mooning

That Roman soldier probably didn’t realize he had just propagated a huge trend, and thus, likely didn’t have the forethought to give it a name. But eventually, someone had to give the prank its present-day moniker. Why mooning? Anyone who has given even casual study to human anatomy, or seen someone in a thong, knows the human butt resembles two pit bulls lying back-to-back more than it does the moon. The moon is pocked with craters while the butt is bisected vertically by a crack, except for Beldar Conehead. With that crack, it looks more like the Liberty Bell than the moon. But they couldn’t call it Liberty Belling. That just doesn’t have the same ring (pun intended). You couldn’t say to your friends, “Come on, ya’ll. Let’s go to the overpass and ‘liberty bell’ the drivers on the highway.”

Well, I decided to do a little more digging and see what I could find out about the origin of mooning and how it got the name.

Butt What?

Let’s begin by examining the word butt, obviously an abbreviated form of buttock. If we break it down, we have two words…butt and tock. Butt, meaning an annoying friend, actually comes from the word buttoid, from an early dialect of the ancient language Vermese, the official language of the lost continent of Vermin.

A popular theory held by many theorists, engineers, and others who theorize, is that a small band of Vermese warriors came to America across the land bridge that once connected Vermin and its namesake, what we know today as the state of Vermont. This was not long before Vermin slipped below the frigid waters of Lake Champlain, never to be seen again except for the occasional sheen of olive oil that washes ashore near Burlington. Tock, as everyone knows, is from the Yankee vernacular meaning to talk. So, the best anyone can figure is the literal translation of buttock is to talk about butts.

My research on the origin of the name for mooning revealed little. What little information I did find was somewhat boring so, I decided to write my own history. Here’s my take on the origin of the name “mooning.”

History of the Name

In 1930, George Butz (no pun intended) was a 19 year-old senior at Clown College in Moosetooth, Minnesota, majoring in shtick and mime. George had always dreamed of being a clown and had quite a reputation as a prankster. One of his favorite things to do was to climb the tower in the town square and drop his pants, revealing his bare butt to passers-by below. That is, until the town passed a law making “cheeking,” as it was called, illegal. George was determined not to give up his favorite past-time but the threat of jail wasn’t worth the risk of being expelled from school and ending his dreams. He would gather a few of his more courageous friends, thinking there was safety in numbers, and wearing a mask to conceal his identity, would go to the town square for a little cheek and run.

George was caught once but managed to get away by squeezing his spaghetti-like frame between the bars on the paddy wagon. Thinking it to be too risky, George decided it would be better to go out cheeking at night under the cloak of darkness. Problem was, in the din of the gas street lights of downtown Moosetooth, it was near impossible for the cheek-ees to see the cheekers. That sort of takes all the fun out of it. So, George began going out only on nights when the moon was full and there was enough light to shock his prankees. George decided to give his hijinks a new name and coined the term “mooning,” since he would only go out on moonlit nights. The name quickly caught on and mooning became a favorite prank among college students across the nation. George was their hero but to local law enforcement, he was an elusive, vulgar menace.


Out of frustration, the town of Moosetooth hired a retired Royal Canadian Mountie, Bond J. Bond, to catch George. Officer Bond prided himself in always getting his man, so confidence ran high.

One night, in an effort to bait and catch George, Officer Bond dressed up like an elderly woman. The plan worked. As officer Bond walked through the square, George jumped out from a dark alley, turned to what he thought was a little old lady, and dropped trou. Officer Bond pounced on George like Bubba on a buffet line and hauled him off to the hoosegow where he spent the night until his daddy could come the following morning and bailed him out. George was charged with indecent exposure, not a minor offense in the day of a very modest society. George’s status as a student and, quite possibly, his dream of being a professional clown, was in jeopardy. George’s daddy, Maxi, a man of means, well-respected in the community and heir to the Butz family Hair Rejuvenator and Soothing Tonic fortune, hired the prestigious Philadelphia law firm of Dewy, Cheatham and Howe.

To make a long story short, a team of attorneys came rolling into Moosetooth in their Pierce Arrows and Italian shoes and, with the help of a $1,000 pay-off to Judge Norville Wendell Bittermeyer, successfully argued George’s case.

George went on to graduate with honors from Clown College and later filed with the Office of Trademarks and Fancy Phrases to register the name “mooning” as a trademark.

RIP, George Butz

George died in 2011 at the age of 100. Legend has it, he was buried face down with his bare, shriveled derriere looking skyward in his final moon to the world. Remember, you heard it here first.




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