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Rubbing elbows? 接触

中国日报网 2019-08-30 12:24

Reader question:

Please explain “rubbed elbows” and this sentence: “Probably the most well-known people we rubbed elbows with were Aerosmith.”

My comments:

This means that they (we) believe the most famous people they had met and known, perhaps to talk to or to even socialize with on a regular basis were Aerosmith, an American rock music band.

“Rubbed elbows” doesn’t mean that they rubbed each other’s elbows to give each other a good massage or anything like that. It just means that they were so close to each other physically that their elbows literally touch.

The other day, I read a Guardian story (The tuneful tramp: The forgotten musical genius of Charlie Chaplin, April 16, 2019) in which Charlie Chaplin (Google or Bing or Baidu him if don’t know who he is, or rather, was) “rubbed shoulders with Stravinsky and dreamed up beautiful film scores in his sleep.”

Stravinsky? Ditto above (Make use of Google or Bing or Baidu, whichever works).

In exactly the same way, Chapin rubbing shoulders with Stravinsky just means that they were once in close contact, that they had a close relationship, not that they were giving each other a good rub on the shoulder to make each other more comfortable.

Anyways, rubbing elbows or shoulders for that matter is an idiom descriptive of situations where people are mixing and mingling with each other in a casual and friendly manner.

Since birds of a feather flock together, if you are rubbing elbows with some people, it implies that you belong to the same group, that you share the same social class or status, or the same cultural background. Or, if not the exact same, then similar ones.

On the other hand, if people of very different backgrounds rub elbows, i.e. mix and mingle, some people may feel odd – Some may feel they don’t belong.

At any rate, here are media examples for illustration:

1. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews obliterated Donald Trump on Tuesday for bringing his children to London – even Tiffany – and forcing world leaders to “kiss the butt” of his family members.

“This is the second week in a row he’s been visiting with emperors and now he’s meeting with the Queen of England,” the MSNBC host said. “What does he think he is that he brings his family with him like a royal?”

Matthews openly wondered when members of the Republican Party are going to defend the republic from a man who is acting like an aspiring authoritarian leader.


As Jason Johnson, politics editor for The Root, told Chris Matthews on Tuesday, Donald Trump is “a walking emoluments clause violation.”

The president’s decision to bring his family along with him on his trip to London doesn’t just demonstrate – again – how Trump views himself and his children as American royalty, but it’s also the latest example of how he is using his political power to enrich himself and his family members.

After all, as Jill Colvin of the Associated Press pointed out on MSNBC, it’s particularly inappropriate that Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump were rubbing elbows with world leaders in London while simultaneously continuing to run the president’s business.

“These are people who run the president’s business, who are profiting from the Trump name,” Colbin said. “And to bring them along, to let them use the social media images of it just adds more and more questions about all of the ethical issues.”

Ultimately, Trump might see himself and his family as royalty, but what the world has again seen during his visit to London is that he’s nothing but a royal embarrassment.

- ‘What Does He Think He Is?’: Chris Matthews Destroys Trump For Bringing His Sleazy Kids To London, PoliticusUSA.com, June 4, 2019.

2. He has rubbed elbows with a prince and flown a former president on his private jet. He amassed a fortune that includes a 100-acre island in the Caribbean and one of the biggest mansions in New York.

He has donated tens of millions of dollars to Harvard and other causes, becoming a darling of professors and scientists — all without a college degree.

Jeffrey Epstein has long been an enigma, his ascent shrouded in mystery. Just how a middle-class Brooklyn math whiz became a Wall Street master of high finance with friends in very high places has been a subject of tabloid speculation for years.

Now, the details of Epstein’s life and his alleged predilections are coming into sharper focus as federal prosecutors in New York pursue sex-trafficking charges accusing the 66-year-old billionaire of recruiting and abusing dozens of underage girls at his mansions in New York and Palm Beach, Florida, in the early 2000s.

Epstein, who pleaded not guilty Monday, could get up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

- Financier in sex abuse case went from math whiz to titan, Associated Press, July 9, 2019.

3. Over his years at E.B. Green’s Steakhouse, piano man Jackie Jocko became known for his humor, banter and upbeat melodies. But even he had his more introspective moments.

At such times you might hear him singing this bittersweet ballad by Cole Porter.

“Every time we say goodbye, I die a little ... Every time we say goodbye, I wonder why a little ...”.

The beloved entertainer and Buffalo native, who retired in fall 2016 and moved to an assisted living facility, died Thursday at Brothers of Mercy in Clarence. He was 90.


In “the world’s great lounges,” to use his lingo, Mr. Jocko rubbed elbows with the stars. Marlene Dietrich, he recalled, would pause in the doorway, listening to him, reluctant to leave. “Jocko, I’m dead,” he recalled her yawning in her German accent. Elvis Presley would walk past the lounge and greet him. “He’d wave,” Mr. Jocko said. “He had a warmth about him.”

In Dallas, Mr. Jocko got to know Jack Ruby, the nightclub owner who became notorious for killing Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Ruby, Mr. Jocko said, used to slip him tips in return for playing “Misty.”

“When the president got shot, the FBI came to see me in Buffalo. They asked: ‘What was Jack Ruby like? What did he give you?’ I said: ‘How should I know? He used to want to hear ‘Misty.’ ”

- Jackie Jocko, Buffalo’s legendary piano man, has died at 90, BuffaloNews.com, August 8, 2019.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


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