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0129 A Flaky Friend

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 129: A Flaky Friend.

Welcome to episode 129 of English as a Second Language Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Today’s script is written by Dr. Lucy Tse, and we thank her always for her help in this podcast.

The title of today’s podcast is “A Flaky Friend.” Let’s get started!

[start of dialog]

Shawn: What's the matter? You look like you're about to blow your lid.

Rick: Yeah, let's just say I'm not happy.

Shawn: That's putting it lightly. What's up?

Rick: My friend Steve was supposed to come by here after work to give me a ride home. I lent him my car so he could take his girlfriend out for the day. I've been waiting 45 minutes and he's a no-show. I should have known better than to count on a flake like him.

Shawn: Maybe something came up. Have you tried calling him on his cell phone?

Rick: Yeah, I have and there's no answer. I can't believe he's left me high and dry.

Shawn: Tell you what. I'm almost done with my report. If you can wait another 15 minutes, I'll give you a lift home.

Rick: Really? That would be great.

Shawn: It's no big deal. But, I definitely don't want to be there when you find Steve.

[end of dialog]

The title of this episode is “A Flaky (flaky) Friend.” The adjective “flaky” means unreliable, someone who doesn’t do what they tell you they will do. This is particularly true in a social obligation. Someone says they are going to meet you at the café at 2 o’clock and they don’t go on time or they don’t go at all. In fact, there is a noun which is a “flake” (flake) and that is a person who is not reliable and there’s also a verb “to flake” or “to flake out” – means that you do something – that you’re not reliable, that you don’t do what you’re supposed to do. Usually, it means that you don’t go somewhere where you are supposed to go.

In this particular dialog, we begin with Shawn, who asks her friend Rick, “What’s the matter?” meaning what is the problem. “You look like you’re about to blow your lid. “To blow (blow) your lid (lid)” means you are about to get angry. “To blow your lid” means to get very, very angry. You can think of a pot of water that’s boiling. And there’s a top on it, because a “lid” (lid) is a top and if it boils too much, the lid may come off, because there’s so much pressure. Well, here we use it just to mean to get very angry. And Rick says, “Yeah, let’s just say I’m not happy.” The expression “Let’s just say” is used before an expression of how we are feeling or what we are thinking, but we don’t want the other person to know completely. We want to make it more relaxed or more mild. So, if I’m really angry, for example, but I don’t want to say it to the other person, I’m really angry, I might say, “Let’s just say I’m somewhat upset. I’m a little mad at you.” And the other person knows that, of course, the truth is much greater and much more serious and usually, we – well, often we use this expression when we’re angry or there’s a problem with something. And rather than give the complete truth, we say more politely and more nicely than what we are thinking.

Well, when Rick says, “I’m not happy,” Shawn replies, “That’s putting it lightly.” “To put something lightly (lightly)” means, once again, it’s like the expression, “Let’s just say.” “To put something lightly” means that you’re being very polite that you’re angry or you’re upset but you’re not expressing that, you’re not saying that to the other person. Shawn then asks Rick, “What’s up?” meaning what’s going on. Tell me what is happening. And Rick says that his friend Steve was supposed to come by here after work. When you say someone is going to “come by (by)” that’s one of those two word verbs in English. It means that they are going to go to that place. So, “Someone is going to come by my house,” means someone is going to come to my house. Usually, it means to make a visit, for example, or to pick someone up, to give someone a ride. I’ll come by at 7:30 and we will then go to dinner. So, I’m going to go to your house, you’re going to get into my car and then we will go to dinner together. Well, I’m not paying but, you know, I’ll give you the ride.

Well, Rick’s friend Steve was supposed to give him a “ride home.” And to give someone a “ride (ride) home” means that they go with you in your car and you are driving. So, I give you a ride to the restaurant. Rick says that he “lent” Steve his car, meaning he let him use his car so that he could take his girlfriend out for the day. And he waits for 45 minutes and says that Steve is a “no-show.” A “no (no-show)” – a “no-show” is someone who doesn’t show up, someone who doesn’t arrive, who doesn’t come to the place where they are supposed to. Rick then says, “I should have known better than to count on a flake like him.” The expression “I should have known better” means I was stupid, I didn’t think, I should have – I wish I would have thought. And “should” has that sense of obligation. So, when we say, “I should have done something” that means that it was desirable or necessary that something be done, but it didn’t happen. Well, Steve says that he should have known better than to “count on a flake.” Well, we already know what “flake” means – that’s a person who is flaky, who is unreliable. “To count on someone” means that we depend on them, that we rely on them. “I’m counting on you to help me with my homework” would be a use of that verb. “I’m counting on winning the lottery so that I don’t have to work.” Well, good luck.

Shawn then says, “Maybe something came up” with Rick’s friend Steve. The expression “Something came up” means that you were supposed to do something, you were supposed to, for example, go to the restaurant at 7 P.M., but then your mother calls and tells you to come over and help her with something. Well, you call your friend and you say, “I’m sorry, I can’t go to the restaurant. Something came up,” meaning something else – there’s something else that I have to do that’s very important. Rick says that it’s possible.

He did try calling his friend Steve on his cell phone and then he says, “I can’t believe he’s left me high and dry.” “To leave someone high (high) and dry (dry)” means that you leave them without any other possible options. Usually, we use this expression when, for example, you are supposed to give someone a ride, and you don’t show up, you don’t go. And that person doesn’t have any other way of getting where they want to go. “You leave them high and dry,” meaning they’re stranded – would be another way of saying that. “To be stranded” (stranded) means that you are somewhere, but you can’t leave that place because you have no way of leaving.

Shawn then says, “Tell you what. I’m almost done with my report.” The expression “Tell you what” means I am going to offer something to you. I’m going to give you something or offer to give you something – that’s how it is used here. You could also say, “Tell you what. I’ll go to the store and buy the food if you cook it.” So, when you are making – it’s sometimes used when you are making an agreement between two people. Well, Shawn offers to give her friend Rick a “lift home.” A “lift” (lift) is the same as a ride home. Rick says, Wow, that’s great! And Shawn says, “It’s no big deal,” meaning it’s not really anything difficult for me or it is not anything you need to thank me very much for.

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

[start of dialog]

Shawn: What's the matter? You look like you're about to blow your lid.

Rick: Yeah, let's just say I'm not happy.

Shawn: That's putting it lightly. What's up?

Rick: My friend Steve was supposed to come by here after work to give me a ride home. I lent him my car so he could take his girlfriend out for the day. I've been waiting 45 minutes and he's a no- show. I should have known better than to count on a flake like him.

Shawn: Maybe something came up. Have you tried calling him on his cell phone?

Rick: Yeah, I have and there's no answer. I can't believe he's left me high and dry.

Shawn: Tell you what. I'm almost done with my report. If you can wait another 15 minutes, I'll give you a lift home.

Rick: Really? That would be great.

Shawn: It's no big deal. But, I definitely don't want to be there when you find Steve.

[end of dialog]

For more information on this podcast and our other podcasts, as well as the script for today’s podcast, go to www.eslpod.com.

From Los Angeles, California , I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. This podcast is copyright 2006.

Glossary
to blow one's lid – to become very angry; to get angry enough to shout at someone

* When Sierra learned that her friends were not telling her the truth, she almost blew her lid.


let's just say... – let me explain things quickly by saying…; a phrase one uses when giving information by leaving out most of the details, making the feeling or story seem less important than it is

* It is a complicated story, but let’s just say that the meeting with my teacher did not go well.


to put it lightly – to make something seem less important than it is; to say something ordinary when talking about something that is more than ordinary

* Ronald’s team won the baseball game by 10 points, but he put it lightly by saying that the game was “okay.”


What's up? – What is wrong?; What happened?; What is the current situation?

* When Fiona saw her sister crying, she asked, “What’s up? What made you so sad?”


to come by – to travel somewhere to meet someone; to visit or meet with someone at a certain place

* Beatrice had not seen Irvin in months, so Irvin promised to come by for a visit when he returned to the city.


to give (someone) a ride – to drive someone to a place he or she needs to go, using a car, van, truck, or other vehicle

* The library was a long distance away, so Francis gave his younger brother a ride there.


to lend – to let someone borrow something; to give someone an item for a short amount of time, with the understanding that the person getting the item must give it back later

* Justine forgot her textbook and wants to know if Dominic will lend his textbook to her for the afternoon.


no-show – a person who is expected to be at a specific place but is not there; someone who does not come to a place that he or she is supposed to come to

* Eleanor was supposed to go to her cousin’s piano concert, but she was a no-show and no one knew where she went instead.


I should have known better than... – I should not have expected things to happen in a particular way...; a statement one makes to say that one did not know how a situation would be, but should have known because of some past knowledge or information

* I should have known better than to eat ice cream, since I get ill when I eat dairy products.


to count on – to depend on someone or something; to trust or rely on someone for help

* Zachary always kept his promises, and his friends knew that they could count on him to do what he said he would do.


flake – a person who cannot be trusted; a person who forgets important things and does not keep promises

* Mariah was a flake and forgot to return the book she borrowed from Kevin.


to come up – to happen without warning; for an important event or situation to occur without one expecting it to occur

* Hana planned to relax at home today, but something came up and she needed to meet with a friend instead.


to leave (someone) high and dry – to abandon or leave someone behind after making a promise to that person; to leave someone who needs help

* Michael told Alexia that he would meet her at the coffee shop and help her with her homework, but he never came and left her high and dry.


Tell you what. – I will tell you something helpful.; a statement one makes before offering help or information

* Tell you what. Since you are tired, I will cook dinner for you tonight.


lift – a ride in a car; a drive to a location one needs to go to

* Trent gave Jane a lift to the store since Jane’s car stopped working.


It's no big deal. – It is not a problem.; a statement one makes to tell someone that an action one is doing to help him or her is not a problem, difficulty, or something that he or she needs to worry about

* I am happy that I am able to help you with your work, but it’s no big deal.

Culture Note
New Terms: “Bromance” and “Himbo”

New words appear all the time in any language, and sometimes just for a short time. In the U.S., people have been using two new words recently to describe men and their friendships. Fortunately, these two are not too difficult understand because they simply combine two words that “formerly” (before) didn’t go together.

The first term is “bromance” (bro + romance = bromance). The word “bro” is short for brother, and is used as an informal greeting, usually between two men. For example, when a man sees his friend, he might say, “Hey bro, how’s it going?” This is very informal and typically used among younger people to greet good friends.

Romance is the feeling of excitement between two people in love. When we put “bro” and “romance” together to get “bromance,” we are referring to two “heterosexual” (men who like women and women who like men) men who have deep feelings of admiration and friendship with one another. We can say that these two men are “buddies,” a more common word, meaning that they are very good friends who probably spend a lot of time together.

The term bromance is often used jokingly to refer to two men who spend so much time together and like each other so much that their relationship is like a traditional romance, where the two people who are in love want to be together all the time. We might say, “Larry is always over at Warren’s house after work. Is there a bromance between them?”

The second term is “himbo” (him + bimbo = himbo). A “bimbo” is a negative and insulting term for a woman who is young and attractive, but who is not very smart, and may be a little too interested in men. Some may call the characters that Marilyn Monroe played in movies “bimbos.”

We put “him” together with “bimbo” to get “himbo.” A “himbo,” then, is a man who is attractive, but not very smart. The “stereotype” (a generally-believed, but too simple idea) of male “models” (professionals who wear or show products in advertisements) is that they are himbos, though it is no doubt not true.