On a classic episode of the sitcom Seinfeld from 1995, Jerry’s oddball neighbor Kramer is given a vanity plate that reads “ASSMAN” by mistake.
Kramer used the plate to his advantage by parking in spots labeled “Doctors Only,” since who else would own the plate but a proctologist?
The gag has earned a cult following over the years, as drivers in all 50 states try to nab a coveted “ASSMAN” license plate. Some regions have actually banned the plate outright – either because of the vulgar three-letter word, or because of the outrageous demand for it.
Now, a Canadian man is protesting after his request for an “ASSMAN” plate was turned down, because he says the decision is a smudge on his family’s good name.
Dave Assman (pronounced “Oss-men”) had his request for the plate rejected by Saskatchewan’s Government Insurance bureau because it contained an “unacceptable slogan.”
Assman insists the name represents a proud legacy for his family.
“It’s my last name. I’ve always had it,” he told the CBC. “I’m not ashamed of it. There’s nothing bad about it.”
He even claims his name carries weight in his community, where his great-grandfather was the Assman to ask for help when farmers were in a pinch.
“Farmers would come in the early ’30s and they borrowed money from him,” he said. “Instead of him foreclosing on their land, he just either forgave it, or let them pay when they could.”
Assman’s family name is not the first to be vetoed by a DMV. SGI also includes MR WOOD and WHANG on their list of banned plates.
Another Canadian, Lorne Grabher of Nova Scotia, also complained after his custom GRABHER license plate was cancelled in 2017. Grabher guessed his name had been mistaken for an offensive reference to President Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape.
The SGI says that, despite Assman’s family pride, the plate could offend others who don’t know about his family history. A review committee at SGI could change their decision, but they’ve turned down other requests for “ASSMAN” in the past.
There are actually a handful of famous Assmans who prove the name is not just the butt of a childish joke.
Assman or Assmann is a German name supposedly derived from the name of Saint Erasmus. Several famous Germans including Egyptologist Jan Assmann and meteorologist Richard Assmann bore the name.
The late Richard “Dick” Assman, a gas station employee from Canada, even became an international celebrity as “Assman the Gas Man.” He was featured on a 1995 episode of Late Show with David Letterman in a segment on funny names.