Wednesday, April 10, 2013

J is for Jackass

A jackass is a male donkey. Unlike many of the animals I have featured in this A to Z challenge such as sharks and hippos, most of us have experienced this animal at close quarters, at some time or another. We may have even ridden on one. When you grew up in Britain and the highlight of your summer is a chilly day at Weston-Super-Mud, the donkey ride may have been the highlight of your childhood possibly.

At least until the donkey refused to move. And you ended up with a complex that was with you for the rest of your life. I digress. Candy floss is also a very traumatic thing.


(Oscar Panther)


There are actually 40 million domestic donkeys in the world and they are seen as the poor man's fashion accessory, even more so than owning a Yugo.

A male donkey or ass is called a jack, a female is called a jenny or jennet. Jack donkeys and female horses are used to produce mules. All of them can be pretty stubborn, a quality I see as admirable. If you know a couple called Jack and Jenny, you can bet they'll be asses. I'm not sure where Jill comes into the picture.

Donkeys have been domesticated since 3000 BC or thereabouts. The ancestors of the modern donkey are the Nubian and Somalian subspecies of African wild ass. In ancient Egypt the number you owned was a sign of prosperity.

Donkeys are widely used in agriculture and even in warfare. The New Zealand Medical Corps used donkeys to rescue wounded soldiers from the battlefield at Gallipoli, during World War One. The Italian army, never the finest fighting force since the days of ancient Rome, used them widely. Although it's said an army marches on its stomach, in this case the soldiers marched on their asses, because the donkeys were also used for meat.

The Jewish people wouldn't approve because donkeys aren't considered Kosher. But they play a prominent role in the Bible.

An Old Testament prophesy, has the Messiah arriving on a donkey: "Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey!" it says.

"With the rise of Christianity, some believers came to see the cross-shaped marking present on donkeys' backs and shoulders as a symbol of the animal's bearing Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, " states Wikipedia. "During the Middle Ages, Europeans used hairs from this cross (or contact with a donkey) as folk remedies to cure illness, including measles and whooping cough.


Donkeys (Rylee Isitt)


In the 15th Century one doctor even listed riding backwards on a donkey as a cure for scorpion stings, tempting me to make the obvious ass backwards joke.

There are too many references to donkeys in literature and film to list here. Shakespeare derided them as stupid in a Midsummer Night's Dream; Cervantes Don Quixote puts a better spin on them and the dour Eeyore in Winnie the Poo is perhaps the most famous literary donkey of them all.

Donkeys also feature in politics. Opponents and satirists depicted U.S. President Andrew Jackson as a "Jackass." Jackson liked the insult and the donkey later became the symbol of the Democratic party. See J is for Jacksonian, Jackass.

Useless Fact About the Jackass

The word donkey replaced ass from 18th century, as society became more polite. Rooster also replaced cock at this time.

What Not to Say to a Jackass

Are you feeling a little hoarse?






38 comments:

  1. I've been waiting for this one.

    Donkeys are so cute. And sweet. I liked learning more about them here.

    PS. Remind me not to marry a guy named Jack.

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    1. err finally getting round to catching up. Let's hope the man of your dreams doesn't end up being called jack or Don Key.

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  2. Jack and Jenny! I never knew that. That's a piece of knowledge I'm going to store away to impress people at cocktail parties. ;) Love your writing style!!

    Dana at Waiter, drink please!

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    1. thanks so much Dana - never knew the Jack and Jenny thing either until I researched...:)

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  3. The word jackass has a bad connotation these days. Not really sure if these poor creatures deserve the stigma.

    From the A-Z neighborhood,
    Dee is for Deecoded

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    1. yeah they seem basically good natured compared to many of the animals I am writing about in this series Dee.

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  4. I'm Now trying to think if I know a Jack and Jenny as a couple..
    Oh yes! I remember those heady, seaside visits where the poor little donkeys trudge up and down the beach. "But, I wanna go on the one called the one called 'Smudge"

    Now I want to go on the one called Jack.


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    1. we all wanted the one called Smudge Juliette - also have bad memories of a press trip to Israel in which a rather large lad was put on a tiny donkey

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  5. A lot of donkeys here on Skopelos, but not the seaside variety, most of them work pretty hard for a living. My late mother-in-law had a former seaside donkey as a pet. She rejoiced under the name of Boot and was very sweet natured. Then my mother-in-law decided to get a companion for Boot, a male she named Wellington (geddit?). Sadly Wellington really was a jackass. Hey ho. Enjoying seeing how you're getting on with this series.

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    1. ha ha - bad luck re Wellington - thanks Mark - must check out your blog again sooon

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  6. Donkeys are soooooooo CUTE!!!!! I've never ridden one and I'm not sure I've even petted one (I was not a kid for whom petting zoo trips were appreciated as I don't like farm smells). Saddest Christmas special ever: Nestor, the Long Eared Christmas Donkey.

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    1. Hmm missed that gem JoJo - time to go out and pet a donkey

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  7. Who knew Donkeys were such a cure-all? Oh wait... You have to wonder why people came up with those ideas.

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  8. Just stopping by from the A-Z Challenge list to say "Hi"

    Really enjoyed your post honey, fascinating!

    Good luck with the rest of the challenge :)

    xx

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    1. Thanks so much Vikki - off to check out yours :)

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  9. I didn't know that female donkeys were called jennys. The line about Jack and Jenny totally cracked me up.
    I totally love donkeys and the fact that they are called jackasses makes them even better.

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    1. glad you liked that line Julie - yep they are cool

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  10. Donkeys are so cute. I have a friend who has horses and another friend and I always tell her she needs to get a donkey one day. She has yet to. =(

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    1. I'd say we all need a donkey at some time Patricia, not sure the yard's big enough, tho

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  11. Your post is informative and funny. I'm glad I found you through A to Z. Have a nice day

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting Grammy - will check your out.

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  12. We used to go to Blackpool each year and I rode the same donkey, I forgot his name! Never knew male donkeys were called jackass though.

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    1. aye you forge a bind with your seaside donkey - even at Blackpool which is bloody cold.

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  13. Having a great time reading your A to Z blogging. :) Thanks for the smiles and laughs.

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    1. Thanks for the visit Mary - glad you liked it.

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  14. I'm pretty sure I have ridden a donkey on Weston-super-Mare beach. We stayed in a hotel there for one night and the room smelt of rotten eggs, then Dad accidentally locked the car keys in the boot and we had to call out the AA. Funny the things you remember. We went to Minehad the next night which was much nicer!

    Definitely ridden donkeys in Skeggy and Morecambe...

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    1. Ha ha - I know Weston was a kind of depressing place to do anything I seem to recall..

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  15. Donkeys are adorable. Can't say that I've ever had the pleasure of riding one though. Hmm thinking of changing my name to Jenny. Would be sort of fun to have an excuse for being an ass. Could direct people here to read this post. Then how could they argue possibly take issue? ;)

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    1. well you do raise a very good point Tracy :)

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  16. Well, I didn't know what candy floss was so I had to go look that up. Turns out I do know what it is, but just by a different name. We always called it cotton candy. I'm sure I've ridden a donkey or two when I was quite small at a local fair or festival round and round in a circle with 3 or 4 other donkeys. When I got older, I always felt sorry for those donkeys going round and round all day with nothing to see but the rear of the donkey in front of you and having to carry noisy, sticky, kicking kids on your back. It didn't seem like a very happy life. I think my favorite donkey would have to be Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, lovable gloomy, old gus that he is. Great post, David!

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    1. ha yes cotton candy - I do revert to Britishisms sometimes. they often did look miserable..

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  17. So, is a pain in the ass girl called a jenny-ass? Just wondering.

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  18. one would not even want to hazard a guess Deborah :)

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  19. And I've ridden one of those wirey bastards!

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  20. I love donkeys. My mum used to despair when I was a child. She wanted me to take up horse riding and I'd always find the loneliest, saddest looking donkey and ask to ride that instead. If you think donkeys are stubborn, you haven't come across a horse that knows you're afraid of it.

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