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0108 Asking Someone Out

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 108: Asking Someone Out.

You’re listening to English as a Second Language Podcast episode 108. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Today’s podcast is about asking someone out on a date, someone you’re romantically interested in. Let’s go!

[start of story]

I walked into the coffee room and saw that Brad was writing something on a piece of paper. When he saw me come in, he slipped the note out of sight.

Trisha: Hey, what's up?

Brad: Oh, nothing.

Trisha: What were you writing?

Brad: (Laugh) All right. You caught me in the act. I finally worked up the nerve to ask Diana out. I was just writing a note to put on her desk.

Trisha: You mean you're going to ask her out in a note? You big chicken!

Brad: I admit it. I'm a wuss. I just can't do it in person.

Trisha: But, you work with her every day.

Brad: That's different. When I'm working, I'm in a different frame of mind. But, when I even think about asking her out, I get tongue-tied. At least in a note, I can get the words out without turning beet red.

Trisha: You've dated a lot. What's so different about Diana?

Brad: Well, for one thing, she's gorgeous. She's so upbeat and sweet. Who doesn't like her? Oh, I don't know. All I do know is that I think we have great chemistry together. But, what if I'm wrong? Maybe she's just been nice to me out of courtesy and doesn't think of me that way. Oh forget it. This was a bad idea.

Trisha: Well, I guess you don't want this note, then.

Brad: What note?

Trisha: I was looking for you to deliver this note from Diana. She wants to know if you want to go to the office party with her tomorrow night.

Brad: You're kidding! I can't believe you've been standing there this entire time and didn't say anything.

Trisha: Sorry. What can I say? Now, do you want the note or what?

Brad: Yeah, I want the note.

Trisha: Have a great time tomorrow night.

Brad: Thanks. I plan on it.

[end of the story]

Our story today is about a man who wants to ask out someone or ask someone out. “To ask someone out” means to go on a date, a romantic date, with someone, to spend the evening going to a movie or dinner and so forth.

Well, in this story, the woman comes in and sees that Brad is writing something on a piece of paper. But when she comes in, he “slips the note out of sight.” “To slip” (slip) means to put something, but to put it either very quickly or usually underneath or through something. “So, I slipped the piece of paper under my book.” Well, “out of sight,” as you can guess means so that no one can see it. “Please keep out of sight” means don’t let anyone see you.

The woman, Trisha, says, “Hey, what’s up?” And Brad says, “Oh, nothing.” That expression, of course, “What’s up?” means how are things going, what is new with you? And the common response is either “Not much,” or “Nothing.” It’s possible, of course, to say, “Oh, well, I just won the lottery,” if you won the lottery, but normally, people just say, “Oh not much.” It’s similar to when people ask, “How are you?” They’re not really asking how you are, they’re just being polite. So, you are supposed to say, “Oh, I’m fine.”

Well, Brad says that Trisha, his friend, “caught him in the act.” He said, “You caught me in the act.” That means that I was in the middle of doing something that probably I should not have been doing. So, I was either doing something wrong or doing something that I should not do, that I didn’t want you to know about. For example, if I’m going to buy my wife a present and I want to surprise her and I’m wrapping the present up – I’m putting paper on it so it looks nice – the box looks nice. And she comes in the room while I’m wrapping the present. I was trying to keep it secret from her and so I could say, “Oh, you caught me in the act,” meaning I didn’t want you to know about this.

Brad says that he’s “working up the nerve” to ask Diana out. “To work up your nerve” or “to work up the nerve” means to get the courage, to feel like you can do it without being nervous. I’m working up the nerve to ask my boss for a raise. I need some courage, some strength to do that.

Well, Trisha finds out that Brad is writing a note to ask Diana out on a date, and she calls him a “big chicken.” When someone says, “Oh, you’re chicken” they mean you’re afraid, you’re scared. You won’t do something because you’re not strong enough. “Don’t be a chicken” means don’t be scared, don’t be afraid. And Brad says that “yes, I’m a wuss.” A “wuss” (wuss) is an informal expression which means I’m a weak person. It’s the same as chicken. It’s a little more – something that an adult would say to someone in an informal context. Chicken is something that little kids can say. Little children even might say that, but “wuss” is something a little stronger that would probably only be used by an adult.

Brad says that he doesn’t want to do it, to ask Diana out, “in person,” meaning face to face – by talking to her, by going up to her and talking to her with her standing right in front of him. So, when we say, “I’m going to be there in person” means I’m not just going to call or email, I’m physically going to be present. Brad says that even though he works with Diana every day, when he’s working, he’s in a different “frame of mind.” A “frame of mind” is your attitude, the way that you see things. “I’m in a working frame of mind,” meaning right now, I want to work. That’s what I’m thinking about, that’s what I’m concentrating or focusing on. “He is in a different frame of mind,” meaning he’s thinking about work, not about personal relationships. He says that when he tries to ask her out, he often gets “tongue-tied.” The expression “tongue-tied” – “tongue (tongue) – “tied” (tied) – means that you can’t think of the right thing to say or you can’t speak very clearly. This often happens to men in the presence of women who they are interested in. They become “tongue-tied.” I know I do. Well, I did because I’m married now. So, I don’t ask other women out.

The man says that he can’t get the words out without turning “beet red.” The expression “to get the words out,” means, of course, to talk. So, what he’s saying is I can’t talk without turning “beet (beet) red.” Well, “beet” – a “beet” (beet) is a vegetable that is very red and that expression is common in English. He turned “beet red,” meaning he turned – his face became as red as a beet. Well, Brad is asked by Trisha why this woman is so different from other women that he has dated, and Brad says, “Well, for one thing, she’s gorgeous.” “To be gorgeous” (gorgeous) means to be very beautiful, to be extremely beautiful. I tell my wife that she is gorgeous and she is.

Brad also says the woman he’s interested in is “upbeat and sweet.” “To be upbeat” – one word – (upbeat) means to be happy. Someone who always looks on the positive side, who’s optimistic, that would be “upbeat.” “To be sweet” here, when a man says a girl is sweet or a woman can also describe a man as being sweet (sweet) – it means they’re nice, they’re kind, they’re gentle. “Sweet,” of course, also is a word we use with candy, something with sugar in it is sweet. So, similar idea – they’re nice.

Brad also says that he thinks that he and this woman, Diana, have “great chemistry together.” “To have great chemistry” – “chemistry” is (chemistry) – means that they get along very well, that they are very compatible, that they laugh together, and they understand each other, and they seem to be interested in each other, also, romantically – often, that’s the meaning. We say, “Those people have no chemistry” – means they don’t seem to really be interested in each other, really understand each other.

Well, Brad says that he thinks that the woman may be nice to him “out of courtesy” and doesn’t think of him that way. “Out of courtesy” – “courtesy” is (courtesy) – is to be polite. So, it’s politeness. So, when someone says, “You should do that out of courtesy” – means to be polite, that if you want to be nice, polite, you should do that. He says that the woman doesn’t “think of him that way.” When you say, “Oh, she doesn’t think of me that way” we mean she’s not interested in you romantically or she doesn’t see you as someone she could be romantically interested in. So, that’s the meaning of “that way,” meaning in a romantic way. Well, as it turns out, it happens that the woman has asked Brad to go to an office party by giving him a note. The “office party” would be, of course, be a party for a company – it’s your company party.

Well, Trisha, Brad’s friend, has been giving him a “hard time,” meaning she has been calling him a chicken and coward and making him feel badly for writing a note, but the woman that he’s interested in, Diana, wrote him a note to ask him to go to a party. And, of course, Brad isn’t very happy that Trisha didn’t tell him this right away. He says, “I can’t believe you’ve been standing there this entire time” –or “standing here this entire time,” meaning all of this time. Trisha then says, “Well, do you want the note or what?” That expression “Do you want to go or what?” – the “or what?” means “or not.” It’s slightly informal. It’s usually when you are trying to get an answer out of a person and you may be a little impatient. “Are you coming to the store with me or what?” – you might say to your girlfriend or boyfriend who doesn’t seem like they want to go or who won’t give you an answer right away.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue this time at a native rate of speech.

[start of story]

I walked into the coffee room and saw that Brad was writing something on a piece of paper. When he saw me come in, he slipped the note out of sight.

Trisha: Hey, what's up?

Brad: Oh, nothing.

Trisha: What were you writing?

Brad: (Laugh) All right. You caught me in the act. I finally worked up the nerve to ask Diana out. I was just writing a note to put on her desk.

Trisha: You mean you're going to ask her out in a note? You big chicken!

Brad: I admit it. I'm a wuss. I just can't do it in person.

Trisha: But, you work with her every day.

Brad: That's different. When I'm working, I'm in a different frame of mind. But, when I even think about asking her out, I get tongue-tied. At least in a note, I can get the words out without turning beet red.

Trisha: You've dated a lot. What's so different about Diana?

Brad: Well, for one thing, she's gorgeous. She's so upbeat and sweet. Who doesn't like her? Oh, I don't know. All I do know is that I think we have great chemistry together. But, what if I'm wrong? Maybe she's just been nice to me out of courtesy and doesn't think of me that way. Oh forget it. This was a bad idea.

Trisha: Well, I guess you don't want this note, then.

Brad: What note?

Trisha: I was looking for you to deliver this note from Diana. She wants to know if you want to go to the office party with her tomorrow night.

Brad: You're kidding! I can't believe you've been standing there this entire time and didn't say anything.

Trisha: Sorry. What can I say? Now, do you want the note or what?

Brad: Yeah, I want the note.

Trisha: Have a great time tomorrow night.

Brad: Thanks. I plan on it.

[end of the story]

That’s all 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 slip – to move something in a way that does not make the movement seem obvious; to slide or move something away while trying to avoid letting others see or notice

* Jamison did not want his parents to see the score he got on his exam, so he slipped the graded exam under his bed when they walked into his room.


out of sight – hidden; unable to be seen

* The cookie jar was kept out of sight so that Kirsten’s young daughter would not see it and would not be tempted to get a cookie out of it.


to catch (someone) in the act – to see someone do something bad or embarrassing

* The boss caught the office worker in the act of putting office supplies in her bag to take home to use and got very angry.


to work up the nerve – to become brave enough to do something that makes one scared or nervous; to talk oneself into doing an act that makes one nervous

* Mario wanted to apologize to his sister, but she was frightening when she was angry so he had trouble working up the nerve to talk to her.


chicken – a coward; someone who is scared of something and acts a certain way because of that fear

* Genevieve’s friends called her a chicken because ghost stories terrified her and she would leave the room if someone started telling one.


wuss – an informal term for a coward; someone who lets fear guide his or her actions instead of being brave

* Huey was too scared to ride the tall roller coaster, so his brothers called him a wuss.


in person – while physically standing in front of someone else; while in the presence of someone else

* Anya had been writing letters to her friend Joshua for three years, but she was excited to visit him and talk to him in person.


frame of mind – a way of thinking; one of multiple ways of thinking that one's mind uses

* Sasha is in a serious mood and is not in the right frame of mind to listen to jokes right now.


tongue-tied – unable to speak, usually because of nervousness; unable to think of the right words to say to someone

* Eric became nervous whenever he saw a pretty girl, and he always got too tongue-tied to say anything at all.


to turn beet red – to blush; to have one’s face turn red because one feels shy, awkward, or embarrassed

* When she made a mistake in front of the large crowd, Catalina became embarrassed and turned beet red.


gorgeous – very beautiful; very attractive

* The woman looked gorgeous in her wedding dress, and all the guests told her how beautiful she was.


upbeat – cheerful and happy; positive in the way one thinks, speaks, and acts

* Scott was a very upbeat person who could always find something good to say about any situation.


sweet – nice or kind; friendly and pleasant to be around

* Lynette is a sweet girl who is nice and respectful to everyone she meets.


chemistry – the way two people act with each other; the potential or possibility for romance between two people

* The chemistry between Keith and Marci was very strong, and the two quickly started a romantic relationship.


out of courtesy – in trying to be nice or polite; in showing kindness

* Chester told his co-worker that she looked nice today out of courtesy, but he was not trying to flirt or start any sort of romance with her.


to think of (someone) that way – to think of someone in a way that one’s behavior and actions suggest; to have romantic feelings for someone or to feel attracted to that person

* Penelope and Terrance were friends, but when Terrance said that he wanted to date her, Penelope told him that she did not think of him that way and just wanted to stay friends.


office party – a party held by the company or business that one works for; a fun meeting or gathering for workers to talk casually and enjoy themselves

* Workers at the company really enjoyed the office parties that the managers held twice a year.

Culture Note
Insulting Terms for Romantic Partners A “boy toy” is a young, attractive man whom an older, “wealthier” (with more money) woman dates for fun or for a short period of time, without being very serious about the relationship. There is no direct “equivalent” (something that is exactly the same for some other person or situation) for women and the term “girl toy” is not used for women. However, people often use the term “gold digger” for a person who tries to be in a relationship with or marries another person for money. This term can be used for a man or a woman. Another term, “arm candy,” is sometimes used to refer to an attractive person who goes with someone to a public event, mainly so that this person can “show off” (display for other people to see) and gain “status” (how other people think of you socially or professionally) by being with a beautiful or handsome person. Sometimes, the “arm candy” is not romantically involved with that person and sometimes they are. If you see a famous singer or movie star with a lot of “models” (people who are paid to wear clothes and other things for display or for photographs) with them, these models may be arm candy. If a man “divorces” (legally ends his marriage with) his wife and marries one of these models, he may have wanted a “trophy wife.” A “trophy” is an object, often made of metal or stone, that is used as a prize for winning a contest or for rewarding success. A trophy wife or a trophy husband, then, is a wife or husband who is a “symbol,” or something to show other people, of your success or status. All of these terms — “boy toy,” “gold digger,” “arm candy,” and “trophy wife” — are “derogatory” or insulting. By using one of these, you are saying that the relationship is not based on caring or love, but instead, based on one’s “looks” (appearance) or money.