Folk Gesture

“That deserves a neck”

My informant told me that this is a popular gesture that the male students at his high school often engage in. Whenever a boy says something that is glaringly obvious or has a “dumb moment” their friends will say “that deserves a neck” and then hit the back of the boy’s neck. My informant doesn’t know why the guys do it or how it started. But he does know that it is considered funny and that everyone laughs whenever someone says “that deserves a neck and then slaps the back of their friends neck”. My informant doesn’t think that someone would do the “neck hitting thing” to someone who isn’t a friend. He’s also not sure if this gesture is common at other high schools or if it is just localized to his high school in the Fresno Unified School District.

I had never seen this gesture performed before, but from my informant’s description it seems like a form of bonding. It is something that only males have been observed doing and they only do it with other males that they are close to. My informant likened the behavior as being similar to “one’s mother smacking the back of their head for being stupid”, he thinks that it might be a related gesture. If that is true then it might mean that the boys who engage in this behavior with their friends find it comforting because it is associated with something their parents might have done.