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0119 Bad Pickup Lines

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 119: Bad Pickup Lines.

Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast episode 119. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the beautiful city of Los Angeles, in the state of California.

Today’s podcast is called “Bad Pickup Lines.” And a pickup line is something that a man says to a woman when he’s trying to ask her out on a date, to show he’s romantically interested. Let’s get started!

[start of story]

My friend and I were at a restaurant waiting for our dates to arrive. We sat at the bar and tried to get the bartender's attention to order a couple of drinks.

My friend, Tanya, is very pretty. She is always being hit on by men. So, it was no surprise that five minutes after we sat down, a guy got up from the other side of the bar and walked over to us. He sat down next to Tanya.

He looked at both of us and said, "Hi, I saw you two beautiful ladies sitting by yourselves over here. Could I buy you two a drink?"

Tanya looked at me and rolled her eyes and said, "No, thanks. We're waiting for our boyfriends."

We both thought that he would take the hint and get lost, but he didn't.

Instead, he looked at Tanya and said, "Do you come here often?"

Tanya tried to ignore him, but he wouldn't give up.

He said, "You look like an angel. Does heaven know you've escaped?"

That pickup line was so lame that we almost burst out laughing. Luckily, we didn't need to keep a straight face for long. Our dates walked in and the guy left. Charlie, my date, apologized for keeping us waiting. I told him that it was no big deal. We had plenty of entertainment.

[end of story]

Well, today we talk about a social event common in the whole world, about men who are interested in women. And this particular podcast is one from a woman’s perspective – from a woman’s “point of view,” we would say. “Point of view” being her view of it, her side of it. And in this podcast, it opens by the woman saying that “My friend and I were at a restaurant, waiting for our dates to arrive.” “Our dates” (dates) are the – in this case, the men that they are going out with – usually, their boyfriend. So, a “date” is someone that – either a boyfriend or a girlfriend. The two women sat at the bar. “To sit at the bar” means that you are sitting in one of the seats right next to the place where they serve alcohol, beer, wine and so forth. “To sit at the bar” is the expression. Usually those chairs are called “stools” (stools). A “stool” is a type of chair – usually a very tall chair. Anyway, they were sitting at the bar, and they tried “to get the bartender’s attention.” “To get someone’s attention” means that you try to get them to notice you. A “bartender” – all one word – (bartender) – is someone who serves, who makes and serves drinks at a bar.

One of the women, named Tanya, is very pretty. And she is always being “hit on” by men. “To be hit on” – two words – (hit) (on) – “to be hit on” – it means that men come up to her and ask her out on a date to show their romantic interest – this is “to be hit on.” And, of course, a man can hit on a woman – and that’s the expression – or a woman can hit on a man, when you are showing that you are interested in them romantically – that can be by smiling or the way you use your body, and, of course, what you say. But you know that already.

Well, it was “no surprise” that five minutes after they sat down, someone came over to the two women. “It was no surprise” is an expression we use when we mean it was expected. We knew this was going to happen. It was no surprise that this man came over and sat next to Tanya. And he said to them, “I saw you two beautiful ladies sitting by yourselves. Could I buy you a drink?” Well, there are two very common English phrases here that men use in trying to approach, in trying to talk to women that they do not know – to strangers. “You two beautiful ladies sitting here by yourselves,” meaning you’re not with another man – is what he’s saying. And it’s very common in the United States, and probably, in many countries to – a man, to buy a woman a drink and this is also the way of indicating that he is romantically interested. “Could I buy you two – you two women – a drink?”

Well, Tanya looked at her friend and “rolled her eyes.” “To roll (roll) your eyes” means that you look up and look around – usually looking up, showing that you think that this person is not very intelligent or that you don’t believe something or that you disagree with someone – those are all times where you would roll your eyes. Well, she’s, Tanya, is rolling her eyes because the man’s pickup line – remember “pickup line” is the sentence or the phrase that a man uses to show a woman he’s interested – “Could I buy you a drink?” – is a very old and not very original line.

Well, Tanya says, “No, thanks” and that they were waiting for their boyfriends. Unfortunately, the man “did not take the hint.” “To take the hint” means to understand what the other person is saying. Usually, the other person isn’t being direct, or is trying to give them the message in a very nice, indirect, polite way. And sometimes, this doesn’t always work. People don’t quite understand. And this is what this man in the story – “he doesn’t take the hint.” He doesn’t understand that the woman is not interested in him. He doesn’t get lost. “To get lost” here means – informal expression – it means to leave. But it usually means that the other person doesn’t want you there. So, if you say to someone “Get lost,” what you’re saying is I want you to leave right away. I don’t like you.

Well, this man doesn’t get lost. Instead, he says to Tanya, “Do you come here often?” – meaning do you come to this bar a lot. Well, again, this is a very old and well known pickup line in English in the United States. “Do you come here often?” – it’s so bad, it’s not something that any woman would be very receptive – not something that a woman would want to hear because it’s almost a joke to say that to someone because it is so old and so unoriginal, so not original. But this man says it anyway, “Do you come here often?” And Tanya tries to ignore him – pretend he’s not there. But he wouldn’t “give up.” “To give up” – two words – is to stop, to stop doing something. I tried, for example, to learn how to play the recorder – the musical instrument – the recorder, but it was too hard so I gave up. I stopped trying.

Well, this man doesn’t give up. Instead, he uses another very bad pickup line. He says to the woman, “You look like an angel. Does heaven know you’ve escaped?” Well, the first part of that expression “You look like an angel” – an “angel” here, of course, is somebody from heaven, someone who is supposed to be, here, very beautiful. So, someone says, “You look like an angel” they mean you look very pretty. You look very beautiful. And then he says, “Does heaven know you’ve escaped?” Well, angels are supposed to live in heaven, right? The angels live in heaven and since she is so beautiful, she must be an angel, and so he asked, “Does heaven know that you’ve escaped,” meaning you’ve got out of heaven and now you are here at this bar. Well, the women think that that pickup line was “very lame.” They say, “It was so lame” (lame) – “to be lame” here – it’s an informal expression – slang expression. It means to be really bad, to be very weak, to be very unoriginal. When we say something is “lame” we mean it’s bad. It’s very bad. We often use that in talking about excuses. Somebody gives a “lame excuse,” meaning they try to tell you why they didn’t do something but it isn’t a very good reason. Well, this is a “lame” pickup line. In fact, it was so lame that the two women almost “burst out laughing.” “To burst out” or “bust out laughing” – means to start laughing very hard suddenly, usually because of something that someone else has said or done.

Well, they said they didn’t need to keep a straight face for long. “To keep a straight face” (straight) – a straight face means not to smile, not to laugh. Usually means not to laugh. So, someone is telling you something that you don’t believe and you think is very funny, but you keep a straight face – means you don’t laugh because that might bother the other person or that might hurt the other person and so, “to keep a straight face” means to not laugh when you want to laugh. Well, the reason they didn’t need to keep a straight face for long – for a long time – or for much longer, is that their dates arrived. One of the dates – the boyfriends – says that he apologized for “keeping them waiting.” “To keep someone waiting” means they arrive somewhere first and you are late. And you are “keeping them waiting.”

I should say too before I forget that, I said a “date” is often your boyfriend or girlfriend. Sometimes, you can have a date, someone you are interested in romantically, but you don’t consider that person your boyfriend or girlfriend yet. So, before you have this more permanent relationship with them, you can have a date. So, that’s just a clarification. Well, the woman at the end of the story tells her date that it was no big deal. The expression “it’s no big deal” (deal) means it’s not important – not something that you should worry about.

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

[start of story]

My friend and I were at a restaurant waiting for our dates to arrive. We sat at the bar and tried to get the bartender's attention to order a couple of drinks.

My friend, Tanya, is very pretty. She is always being hit on by men. So, it was no surprise that five minutes after we sat down, a guy got up from the other side of the bar and walked over to us. He sat down next to Tanya.

He looked at both of us and said, "Hi, I saw you two beautiful ladies sitting by yourselves over here. Could I buy you two a drink?"

Tanya looked at me and rolled her eyes and said, "No, thanks. We're waiting for our boyfriends."

We both thought that he would take the hint and get lost, but he didn't.

Instead, he looked at Tanya and said, "Do you come here often?"

Tanya tried to ignore him, but he wouldn't give up.

He said, "You look like an angel. Does heaven know you've escaped?"

That pickup line was so lame that we almost burst out laughing. Luckily, we didn't need to keep a straight face for long. Our dates walked in and the guy left. Charlie, my date, apologized for keeping us waiting. I told him that it was no big deal. We had plenty of entertainment.

[end of story]

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
date – a person who one meets with for a romantic reason, who one does something fun or relaxing with, such eating dinner or watching a movie; someone who one goes somewhere with for a romantic meeting

* Kevin was Pauletta’s date for the night, and the two went to a dance and an expensive restaurant.


bartender – someone who sells and makes alcoholic drinks for customers at a bar

* The bartender knew about many types of alcohol and could prepare many types of cocktails.


to be hit on – to be talked to by someone, usually a stranger (someone who one does not know), who shows romantic interest and wants that romantic interest to be returned

* Tyrell hit on the beautiful girl at the party, but she was not interested in him and walked away without even telling him her name.


drink – liquor or alcohol; an alcoholic beverage

* Vanessa did not like many drinks because she did not like the taste of alcohol, but she did drink wine sometimes.


to roll (one's) eyes – to roll or move one’s eyes up while keeping one’s face still, to show anger, dislike, or annoyance caused by someone else’s actions or words

* Jason did not like his friend’s bad joke, so he rolled his eyes.


to take the hint – to understand what someone wants to say without that person actually saying it; to learn what someone wants by that person’s actions or words without that person saying what he or she wants

* Leila was angry and would not speak to her boyfriend, so he took the hint and left her alone.


to get lost – to leave; to walk away from someone because that person does not want one to talk to or be near him or her

* Nestor did not want his younger brother to be in his room, so he told his brother to get lost.


to give up – to quit; to stop trying to do something

* Jasmine could not solve the difficult math problem alone, so she gave up and asked someone else for help.

angel – a beautiful being or creature that lives in heaven and is divine (one of the best creatures created by God or a god); someone who is compared to a being or creature that lives in heaven, because of that person’s beauty or kindness

* Emiko was like a beautiful angel who always cared for people that needed help.


to escape – to leave when one is not supposed to; to leave a place even though one is not allowed to

* The dangerous man was supposed to spend the rest of his life in prison, but he escaped, causing everyone to panic.


pickup line – a statement that is meant to start romance but usually fails because it is bad or low quality

* Hector’s pickup lines never worked well and no woman ever had a good reaction to them.


lame – low quality or bad; without meaning

* Juanita’s joke was lame and no one laughed at it.


to burst out laughing – to laugh in a sudden and loud way; to laugh loudly without being able to stop oneself from laughing

* Frederick was in a bad mood all morning, but a funny event happened during lunch that caused him to burst out laughing.


to keep a straight face – to stay serious even though one wants to smile or laugh; to stop oneself from laughing or smiling

* The mother needed to scold her children for behaving poorly, but the situation was so funny that she had difficulty keeping a straight face.


to keep (someone) waiting – to cause someone to wait because one is late

* Arlene spent a long time choosing clothes to wear and she kept her friends waiting as she got ready.

no big deal – not a problem; not of any importance

* Dinner took a long time to make but it was no big deal because the family was not very hungry.

Culture Note
Guys and Gals

Many people believe that men and women have different ways of “communicating” (talking or sharing information). This may be especially true when it comes to dating. Sometimes men say one thing, and women hear another, and “vice versa” (true the other way around; the reverse is true). That may be because men speak their own language, something called “guy speak,” and women speak their own language called “girl speak.”

We use the word “guy,” the singular form, to refer to a man or a boy. For example, we might say, “Look at that crazy guy over there. He’s wearing a winter coat in the middle of summer!” However, you will also hear Americans use the word “guys,” the plural form, to refer to a group of mixed men/women or boys/girls all the time. It’s common for people to say to a mixed group: “Hey guys, look at this!” or “Come over here, guys.”

Technically, “gal” is the female “equivalent” (same in meaning) of “guy,” but “gal” now sounds old-fashioned and you don’t hear it often in daily conversation. Instead, you will hear people use “girls” to refer to a group of girls or women. Sometimes, though, women don’t like to be called “girls” because while “guys” can be a male of any age, “girls” are usually females under the age of 18. It can sound a little “condescending” (showing that one is “superior” (having higher position or status) than the person you are talking to). To be safe, and more polite, use “ladies” for women.