[lit-ideas] Re: Rubbernecking

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 09:24:53 -0700

Among the many reasons to read

http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=923392007

are the names--Ken Dale-Risk, Euan Snowie, Ann Gloag-- the tags--Stagecoach founder, property magnate and pub tycoon [yes, but is he a *likeable* property magnate and pub tycoon]--and the headline, which made me wonder whether exploding no entry signs could somehow be made into art. But the issue I'd like to put before you is the meaning of the verb "to rubberneck." When my father was visiting Portland, he used the word to describe "peering curiously without intent or purpose." As in, "What did you do downtown, Dad?" "Oh, I was mostly rubbernecking." By contrast, I first heard the the word twenty years or more ago, on California's freeway system, when it was used to describe the actions of people who slowed to get a good look at an accident. "Staring with an element of schadenfreude" is what I understood it to mean. In the comments section of the "Scotsman" article someone uses rubbernecking to mean something like, "being nosy" or "gawping at the nouveau riche."

What's it mean to you?

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon
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