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0104 Bar Hopping

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 104: Bar Hopping.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 104. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Today’s podcast is about going to bars and drinking. Bottoms up!

[start of story]

A bunch of my old college friends came into town for a few days and we went out last night, bar hopping until closing time. We started around 9 p.m. and were on our third bar when we closed it down. Some of us were starving and the rest of us were peckish so we decided to get a late-night snack. We didn't want fast food so we decided to try to find a 24-hour diner.

We passed on a chain restaurant and went instead to a dive near downtown. The six of us went in and we sat at the counter. Since the place was dead, we had it to ourselves. One of my friends, Paul, got pretty rowdy and the waitress had to tell him to chill out. He was pretty hammered so we had to keep an eye on him. He was a lightweight and didn't usually drink much, but he was bummed out about a fight he had had with his girlfriend and decided to get smashed. I felt sorry for the guy, especially since I knew that he would have a terrible hangover in the morning. I tried to get him to drink some coffee, but he just wanted to stay buzzed.

After we left the diner, I dropped everybody off at Paul’s, since I was the designated driver. They were all crashing at his place. I made my way home and fell into bed. It was good to see my old friends but I'm definitely getting too old to party like we did in college. As the old saying goes: The mind is willing, but the body is weak.

[end of dialogue]

Today we “go drinking.” “To go drinking” means to go drinking alcoholic beverages like beer or wine or some other type of alcohol. I began, instead of saying, “Let’s get started” before the story, I used an expression we use when we are drinking, that is, “Bottoms up! “Bottoms up” means that you take the bottom of your glass and you have to drink everything in it so that it is up – facing up. So that’s an old expression, “Bottoms up!” when you’re going to drink. It’s similar to “Cheers!” or other sorts of what we would call “toasts,” and a “toast” is something you say to someone or about someone before you take a drink, like “Cheers!” for example.

The story begins with me talking about how “a bunch of my college – my old college friends,” meaning my friends from way back. The expression, “a bunch” (bunch), just means “a group of” here. So, a group of my old friends “came into town,” meaning they don’t live here but they are visiting, and they came into town for a few days and we went out last night, “bar hopping.” “To go out” means, you probably know, to go to a restaurant or go to a bar or a theater. We went “bar hopping.” And “bar hopping” – “hop” – (hopping) “hopping” – “bar hopping” is to go from one bar to another bar, to another bar and you have a drink at one bar and then you go somewhere else and you have a drink at a different bar, and maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll meet someone at one of these bars. But we went bar hopping until “closing time,” and “closing time” is the time that the bar closes. So, in Los Angeles, I believe, closing time is 2:00 AM – 2 o’clock in the morning. In some cities in the United States, it’s 1 o’clock in the morning. Closing times tend to be – usually, not past 2:00 AM. Most bars – there aren’t any, or very few 24 hour bars in the United States. Legally, the bars have to close at usually 1:00 or 2:00 AM.

Well, I say, “We started around 9:00 PM and we were on our third bar when we closed it down.” To say “we were on our third bar” means that we had now gone to our third bar, and we “closed it down,” we stayed until closing time. Now, of course, there aren’t any bars open. So, I mentioned that some of us were “starving” and the rest of us were “peckish.” “To be starving” (starving) means to be very hungry and to be “peckish” means that you’re a little hungry. That word, “peckish,” isn’t as common in English anymore that it means to be not very hungry, but a little hungry. Because we were hungry, we went to get a “late-night snack,” and a “snack” (snack) is a little something to eat. “Late-night,” meaning it was very late in the night – actually, early in the morning.

I said we didn’t want “fast food” so we tried to find a “24-hour diner.” Well, “fast food,” two words, simply means restaurants like McDonald’s or Wendy’s or Burger King, any restaurant that serves food, usually, in a minute or two. They have it already prepared or if it’s a hamburger, they fix it very quickly. These types of restaurants are called “fast food” restaurants. A “diner” (diner) is sort of an old-fashioned restaurant. Usually, in a diner, there is a counter like a long table, and one side you can sit and on the other side are the people who work there and they also, usually in a diner, have tables like a normal restaurant so you can sit at the counter or you can sit at a table in a diner. And a diner sort of has traditional food that you would find – usually serves breakfast and there are several “24-hour diners” in Los Angeles. These are diners or restaurants that are open 24 hours a day.

Well, I said that we “passed on” a chain restaurant and went instead to a “dive” near downtown. “To pass on something” means to decide not to do it or to go there, so it could be anything that you decide not to do. “My friend offered me two tickets to go to the University of Southern California football game and I passed on the tickets. I decided I didn’t want to go.” A “chain restaurant” (chain) is a restaurant that is part of a larger group of restaurants. Again, McDonald’s is a fast food restaurant but it’s also a “chain” restaurant, and a “chain restaurant” would be any restaurant that is part – that there are more than one of those, usually a part of a big company. We went to a “dive.” A “dive” (dive), as a noun, means a restaurant or a bar or some place that isn’t very well maintained, maybe a little dirty, not the best environment to go to. A “dive” is a place that – it doesn’t have a lot of nice furniture and so forth. The verb of course, “to dive” means, for example, you jump into the water, you can dive into the water – doesn’t really have any connection here that I know of. When we use it as a noun, in this case to mean a place, it means a not very nice place.

So, the six of us went in to this diner and we sat at the “counter,” and I mentioned before that the “counter” is that place where everyone can sit next to each other and they’re all facing the same direction and there are people working on the other side of the counter. I said the place was “dead” and we had it to ourselves. When you describe a place as being “dead,” you mean there’s no one there, there are very few people there. “I went to the mall the day before Christmas and it was dead.” Well, no, that would never happen. Of course, it’s – instead the opposite of “dead” would be, in this case, not “alive” but “packed,” so if you say the store was “packed” (packed), you mean it was “full,” and the opposite would be it was “dead.” There was no one there. To say “we had it ourselves” means we were the only ones there.

One of my friends, Paul, got pretty “rowdy” (rowdy). “To be rowdy” means to be loud, to be bothering other people, and we sometimes use that word to describe, for example, crowds or people at a sporting event, say a soccer game. “The crowd got rowdy” means that they got loud and noisy and were causing problems. The waitress told my friend to “chill out” and “chill out,” two words (chill) out, you probably know, means to calm down, to relax. My friend was pretty “hammered” and so we had to keep an eye on him. When we say someone is “hammered” – “hammered” (hammered) is one of the many words in English to mean that they were drunk, that they had drunk too much alcohol. The technical word would be they were “intoxicated.” “Intoxicated” means you’re drunk, in this case. And in every language, there are many words to describe someone who has had too much alcohol and English is no different. “Hammered” is one word you can use. There are many others. “Smashed” (smashed), I use in the story “to get smashed” or “to be smashed.” “To get smashed” means to get drunk. “To be smashed” means to be drunk.

I said we had to “keep any eye on” my friend. That means we had to watch him, we had to make sure he was okay. This is a general expression to mean to watch over something. So, if you are at a café and you have your laptop there, and you say to the person in the next table, “Could you keep an eye on my laptop while I go to the restroom?” You’re asking them to watch it, and, of course, you come back from the restaurant and they’re gone and so is your laptop so don’t do that. The friend of mine I was talking about, I described him as a “lightweight.” A “lightweight” here means someone who can’t drink very much alcohol before they get sick or before they get drunk. The opposite of the “lightweight is not a “heavyweight.” You might think so. I don’t know if there’s a good opposite of “lightweight,” but a “lightweight” when it comes to drinking is someone who can’t drink very much without passing out, without going unconscious or getting very drunk.

My friend decided to get “smashed,” to get drunk, because he had a fight with his girlfriend – sounds like an old story, a familiar story. And he was “bummed out.” “To be bummed (bummed) out” means to be sad, to be very depressed, to be disappointed. That is to be “bummed out,” and sometimes people will just say, “I’m bummed,” and that’s an informal expression again, to mean I’m sad. In England, in Britain, they use the word “bum” (bum) to mean what we would call in the United States your “butt” or your rear, what you sit on. I was worried my friend would have a terrible “hangover” the next morning because he drank so much. A “hangover,” all one word (hangover), is if you feel badly or feel sick after you’ve drank too much. Often the next morning, you wake up with a headache and you may have a stomach ache. That’s called a “hangover.” It comes from drinking too much alcohol. Of course, none of our listeners of ESL Podcast would ever do that.

The friend of mine, I said, didn’t want to drink any coffee, and of course, traditionally, coffee is supposed to help you get over begin drunk. I don’t know if it does or not. But my friend said he just wanted to stay “buzzed,” and “buzzed” (buzzed) is just like “smashed” and “hammered.” It means intoxicated, drunk. I said that after we left the diner, I dropped everyone off at my friend Paul’s since I was the “designated driver.” The expression, “designated driver,” two words, is a noun that refers to the person who decides they’re not going to drink or drink very much so that they can drive everyone else from bar to bar and then to go home. Places like Los Angeles, there aren’t very many possibilities for public transportation and a taxi would be very expensive so sometimes friends will say, “Well, you don’t drink tonight,” or, “Don’t drink very much so you can drive,” and this term, “designated driver,” has been around for about maybe 20 years. When I was in college, this was something that people were talking about.

My friends decided they were all going to “crash at Paul’s place.” “Crashing” or “to crash” means, here, to sleep, usually temporarily, for one night or a couple of nights. Someone who is visiting you from another state or city might say, “Can I crash at your place for a couple of days” – means can I stay at your house or apartment for a few days while I’m visiting. I said that it was good to see my old friends but that I was getting “too old to party like we did in college.” The verb here, “to party,” means, of course, to go out, have a good time, maybe drink. I end the story with an old saying, “The mind is willing, but the body is weak.” This means the mind, your brain or what you want to do – you’re willing to do something, you want to do something but your body isn’t strong enough. Your body is weak. And when you get old, you will know what I mean.

Now let’s listen to the story at native rate of speech.

[start of story]

A bunch of my old college friends came into town for a few days and we went out last night bar hopping until closing time. We started around 9 p.m. and were on our third bar when we closed it down. Some of us were starving and the rest of us were peckish so we decided to get a late-night snack. We didn't want fast food so we decided to try to find a 24-hour diner.

We passed on a chain restaurant and went instead to a dive near downtown. The six of us went in and we sat at the counter. Since the place was dead, we had it to ourselves. One of my friends, Paul, got pretty rowdy and the waitress had to tell him to chill out. He was pretty hammered so we had to keep an eye on him. He was a lightweight and didn't usually drink much, but he was bummed out about a fight he had had with his girlfriend and decided to get smashed. I felt sorry for the guy, especially since I knew that he would have a terrible hangover in the morning. I tried to get him to drink some coffee, but he just wanted to stay buzzed.

After we left the diner, I dropped everybody off at Paul’s, since I was the designated driver. They were all crashing at his place. I made my way home and fell into bed. It was good to see my old friends, but I'm definitely getting too old to party like we did in college. As the old saying goes, “The mind is willing, but the body is weak.”

[end of dialogue]

That’s all we have time for today. From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. We’ll see you next time on ESL Podcast.

ESL Podcast is a production of the Center for Educational Development in Los Angeles, California. This podcast is copyright 2005. No part of this podcast may be sold or redistributed without the expressed written permission of the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to bar hop – to visit several bars in one night; to travel to many different places that serve alcohol in one night

* Deandre visited four bars when he was bar hopping with his friends and drank too much alcohol.


to close it down – to end a night of drinking alcohol and leave the bar, often when the bar is closing

* Lindsey and her friends went to Joes’s Bar and closed it down after six hours of drinking, dancing, and having fun.


peckish – slightly hungry; hungry enough to eat but not very hungry

* Mitchell felt peckish and he looked in the refrigerator, but he couldn’t find anything good to eat.


diner – a small, casual restaurant where one can usually buy food at low prices

* The diner was small and only served hamburgers and sandwiches, but it was still a very popular place to eat.


chain restaurant – a restaurant that is part of a company that opens one type of restaurant with the same name and food in many different locations

* Jacqueline liked chain restaurants because she always knew she could find one in whichever city she traveled to and order her favorite foods there.


dive – a small, casual restaurant that is in poor condition; a small restaurant that has a dark or dirty look and usually sells unhealthy food

* The restaurant is a dive with had poor lighting and serves greasy food.


counter – a thin, high table with chairs or stools on one side for customers to sit on, looking toward the kitchen or the place food is cooked

* Hiro always sat at the counter because he liked to watch his food getting prepared.


rowdy – wild; loud and reckless

* Jerry’s friends were getting too rowdy inside the movie theater and a theater worker told them to quiet down.


to chill out – to calm down; to become calm or quiet after being anxious, wild, or loud

* Beth and Ruben were so angry at each other that they started yelling, but their friend told them both to chill out and speak calmly.

hammered – very drunk; a state or way of being when one has drunken too much alcohol and is behaving differently, usually in a wild or dangerous way

* After drinking too much alcohol, Andrea was completely hammered and began saying cruel things she usually would not say.


lightweight – someone who cannot drink much alcohol; someone who is easily affected or changed when drinking alcohol

* Seymour is a lightweight and cannot drink more than one bottle of beer without feeling sick.


bummed out – sad or upset; depressed because of something that happened

* Mei was bummed out because her friends went to the party without her.


smashed – drunk; a state or way of being when one has had too much alcohol and is unable to think or act in one’s usual way

* Pablo drank too much and was so smashed that he could not even walk in a straight line.


hangover – an illness one gets after the alcohol in one’s body leaves, usually causing one to have a headache and nausea (stomach sickness)

* After drinking too much alcohol the night before, Michelle had a very bad hangover that made her feel too ill to get out of bed.


buzzed – relaxed and happy because of a substance one ate or drank, like alcohol; feeling excited and happy after drinking alcohol

* Allan had a stressful day at work and wanted to drink until he felt buzzed.


designated driver – a person who goes out with friends while they drink alcohol but who does not drink alcohol so that he or she can safely drive everyone home

* Adeline did not like to drink, so she was always the designated driver whenever she and her friends went out to have a fun time.


to crash – to sleep somewhere that is not where one usually sleeps; to sleep at someone else's home, usually for one night

* It was late at night and the drive home was very long, so Daniel crashed at his friend’s house for the night and drove home in the morning.


to party – to enjoy oneself at a social gathering, usually with alcohol and dancing

* The group of friends had not seen each other in many years and celebrated their reunion by dancing, drinking, and partying.


The mind is willing, but the body is weak – a version of a saying from the Christian bible, "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” which means one wants to do something but is too weak or does not have enough strength to do it

* Raquel wanted to stay awake the entire night but got too tired and fell asleep, saying the next morning, “The mind is willing, but the body is weak.”

Culture Note
Needing Novelty Imagine you are a teacher and you have students in your classroom who get bored easily, make snap “judgments” (sudden decisions without thinking about it), “lose their temper” (get angry) easily, and who like things to be “disorganized” (not organized or neat). If you are that teacher, you might be “feeling sorry for yourself” (pitying yourself) because these students are “troublemakers” (people who often create problems), right? The “conventional wisdom” (something believed by most people) and past research tells us that people who “seek” (look for; try to find) “novelty” (the new and unusual) all the time in people, things, and experiences have “personalities” (personal traits or characteristics) that will lead to trouble. People who seek novelty all the time are said to be more “prone to” (likely to be/have) “attention deficit disorder” (behavior problems, especially in children, who are not able to focus, who act without thinking, and who seem to have too much energy), “compulsive spending” and “gambling” (spending money or playing games of chance for money without being able to stop), “alcoholism” (being addicted to drinking alcohol), “drug abuse” (being addicted to illegal drugs), and criminal behavior. A 2012 research reported in the New York Times suggests that there is an “upside” (positive or good aspect) to novelty-seeking. If novelty-seeking “personality traits” (characteristics) are combined with “curiosity” (wanting to know about things) and “persistence” (not quitting; not giving up), novelty-seekers can do great things that benefit the entire society. They may be “adventurous” (willing to take risks) in finding solutions to difficult problems and “survive” (continue to live) because they can make decisions quickly and think in new and unusual ways when they are in difficult situations.