398: Tap That Ass

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Tap That Ass
Hey, when you're done draining the syrup, just leave the hole, okay?
Title text: Hey, when you're done draining the syrup, just leave the hole, okay?


In this comic, Cueball either accidentally or purposefully exploits the double meanings of "tap." The phrase "tap that ass" is a colloquialism for "to have intercourse with that person" and is most likely how the reader expects the phrase to be used. However, throughout the comic, Cueball uses the phrase ambiguously.

In the first panel, it is possible that Cueball is using "tap that ass" sexually. However, it is more likely that he is using "tap" to mean "pick" or "choose," in which case he would be the one choosing the next committee chair. "That ass" refers to one of the individuals in the meeting room to be picked for the position.

In the second panel, "tap" is referring to wiretapping. The Cueball character with the headphones on has just unplugged his headphone. This suggests that he and his colleague at the phone were just done with the wiretapping. In this scenario, it is strange that the colleague is still on the phone instead of hanging up. However, it would be much stranger to wiretap someone in plain eyesight, unless that person is blind. "Ass" likely refers to the person they have just wiretapped. Cueball says he'd tap that ass "without a warrant," suggesting that they had one in this situation.

In the third panel, "tap" is referring to extracting sap from trees. A sexual connotation would make no sense in this context. "That ass" refers to the maple tree.

The final panel reveals that Cueball was purposefully implying the sexual meaning of "tap that ass" all along, even though he framed it in a non-sexual context. He reaffirms his previous statement from the third panel by turning toward the direction of the third panel (thus implicitly breaking the fourth wall) and asserting "I'd have sex with that tree." "That tree" refers to the tree from the previous panel. Alternatively, Cueball may have finally realized that he indeed wanted to have sex, but instead of using the euphemism "tap that ass," he says it literally.

The title text features a request from Cueball from the last panel to Cueball from the third panel. He asks Cueball not to plug up the hole left behind from tapping the tree, so he can have sex with it.

In xkcd: volume 0, below the comic is a bonus comic, replete with horrible puns:

398 bonus comic.jpeg

("Wood" also meaning "erection" and "son of a beech" sounding like "son of a bitch".)


[Cueball in a hallway looking in on a board meeting.]
Cueball: I'd tap that ass to be the new committee chair.
[Cueball wearing headphones with a briefcase and a laptop. Another man on a telephone.]
Cueball: I'd tap that ass without a warrant.
[Cueball with his hand on his chin, looking at a tree.]
Cueball: I'd tap that ass and extract delicious maple syrup.
[Cueball standing in a blank frame.]
Cueball: I'd have sex with that tree.

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no, "tap" in the first frame means "pick," as in, "today the mayor tapped Mike Smith to be interim head of the planning department." No idea where you got the borrowing money bit from. MR (talk) 22:27, 5 March 2013 (UTC)MR

Agreed. Someone who is better at life than us should correct it.--JSekula71 (talk) 20:29, 27 April 2013 (UTC)
Also agreed. I've changed it, but it could be better :-) Mark Hurd (talk) 02:35, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
Changed the explanation about the first panel and mentioned the title text at the end, but it really could be better:D 05:21, 23 April 2014 (UTC)

It should be known that "xkcd: Volume 0" includes a continuation of this comic in which Cueball has sex with the tree and eventually a child. 16:22, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

It does not seem like the final panel is trying to show the absurdity of assuming "tap that ass" to be sexual. It is just continuing the joke by explicitly stating "tap that ass" in regards to the third panel. Flewk (talk) 00:59, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

I agree. This can be doubly confirmed by looking at the title text which confirms Cueball in the fourth panel really does wants sex with the tree. Ralphsd (talk) 20:01, 12 January 2016 (UTC)
If you do have sex with a tree, won’t it be painful? Bugs living inside might attack your soft bits, you might have splinters, and don’t even get me started on lubrication. 42.book.addict (talk) 18:20, 6 February 2024 (UTC)

The current explanation for the second panel is that "tap that ass" is either meant sexually or at the guy who is at the phone. However, if you actually look at what's happening you can see that the person speaking is actually done wiretapping and is now unplugging his headphones from his laptop. This means the guy at the phone is most likely a police officer and the wiretapper is his colleague. Ralphsd (talk) 20:01, 12 January 2016 (UTC)