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0158 Shopping with My Wife

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 158: Shopping with My Wife.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast number 158. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development, located in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Today’s podcast is going to be a story about me going shopping with my wife. Let’s go!

[start of story]

One thing I dread more than anything else is going clothes shopping with my wife. It’s not that I don’t like helping her buy new clothes. It’s just that I have no fashion sense.

My wife always asks me, “What do you think of this one?” and I always answer with something like: “That’s nice” or “That looks good on you.” That usually satisfies her, but sometimes I get harder questions like, “Which one looks better, this one or the other one?” It’s a hard question to answer because whichever one I pick, she will follow up with the question I dread the most: “Why?”

The truth is, I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s because of the color, the cut, the hemline, or the fit. I might have an idea, but I can’t put it into words.

One question I do know the answer to, though, is: “Do I look fat in this?” The answer to THAT question is always, always, “No!”

[end of story]

In this podcast, you are going with me as we shop for clothes with my wife. I begin the story by saying that “One thing I dread more than anything else is going clothes shopping.” “To dread” (dread) is when you are not looking forward to something. When you really dislike something, you don’t want to do something, but you probably have to do it. For example, “I dread going to work on Monday morning,” means I really don’t want to go to work, but I know I have to, in this case. Well, I dread more than anything else going clothes shopping – going out to buy clothing with my wife. “It’s not that I don’t like helping her buy new clothes. It’s just that I have no fashion sense.” Couple of things about that – those sentences – “it’s not that, It’s just that” – that construction, that use of those expressions is very common in English. “It’s not that” means this – what I’m going to say is not true, “It’s just that” – now I’m going to say something that is true.

So, for example, in the story, I say, “It’s not that I don’t like helping her buy clothes” – that means I do like helping her buy clothes. That isn’t the problem, however. The problem is and then I say, “It’s just that I have no fashion sense.” “It’s just that” is followed by the real reason or the real problem. So, someone may say to you, in a different situation, “It’s not that Minnesota is very cold in the winter. It’s just that I prefer to spend my time in Hawaii.” So, you are saying, “Well, the problem with Minnesota isn’t the cold. The problem is that I prefer to go to Hawaii” – that’s a similar use of that construction – “It’s not that. It’s just that.”

Well, in this case, the problem is that I have no “fashion sense.” “Fashion” (fashion) and “sense” (sense). Well, you know fashion means the way or the kind of clothing that people wear. We say something is “in fashion” – that means it’s popular. Many people are dressing that way. A “fashion sense” is a consciousness, an ability to know what looks good, and what doesn’t look good. So, someone with a fashion sense can say, “Oh. That color is a good color to wear with this other color.” But someone like me, with no fashion sense, could put on green and purple and think, “Oh. That looks okay.” So, I have no fashion sense. And that’s what we mean by “fashion sense” – someone who knows, the knowledge of knowing which clothes to wear.

My wife always asks me, “What do you think of this one?” And I always answer, “That’s nice,” meaning “Yeah, that’s okay,” or “That looks good on you.” And, of course, “to look good on someone” means that the clothes look good on them – the clothes are attractive - that the person has a nice look about them in those clothes.

I say in the story that when I tell my wife “That’s nice,” or “That looks good on you,” “That usually satisfies her.” “To satisfy her” means she doesn’t ask more questions. She thinks, “Oh. Okay. I accept that.” She is satisfied. The noun there would be “satisfaction.” Well, my responses usually satisfy her, but sometimes, I say, “I get harder questions.” Of course, a “hard (hard) question” is a difficult question. So, I get more difficult – or harder – questions when she asks, “Which one looks better, A or B?” And I say, “That’s a hard question because whichever one I pick,” meaning whichever dress, in this case, I select – A or B – “whichever” one could be either one. Another way of saying “whichever” is “it doesn’t matter which one I choose.”

For either choice, she will follow up with a question I dread the most. “To follow up” – two words – (follow up) – “to follow up” means to do something after someone else has done something – that you want more information, for example. You can follow up with a question. Sometimes, we use that verb by itself. “I’m going to follow up on our meeting today” means I’m going to call you again or email you again about what we talked about in our meeting. Well, in this case, my wife “follows up with a question” – means after I answer her question, she asks me another question. And the question that I dread the most – remember “dread” means I hate, I dislike – the most – is “Why?”

Well, I say in the story that “The truth is, I don’t know why.” “The truth is” is an expression we use when we are trying to be very honest with someone else, maybe telling them something that we wouldn’t normally tell them. So, for example, my wife says, “Do you want to go over to my sister’s house?” And I say, “Well, the truth is, I’m really tired.” I’m telling her something I may not say otherwise, or I can say, “The truth is, I don’t like your sister’s dog,” or whatever the reason is. In this case, the real reason I can’t answer my wife’s question is I don’t know the answer. I don’t know why I like something.

I say that “It could be because of the color of the dress,” for example, the “cut” (cut) of the dress. The “cut” is how it is formed – what shape it is – that would be the cut of a piece of clothing. When you buy jeans, for example, blue jeans, you can get them in a “boot” cut (boot). A “boot cut” – “boot,” of course, is a kind of shoe and a “boot cut” means that the pants fit very straight on your leg. They’re cut very straight. You could also get a wide-cut, or a loose cut – whatever kind of cut it is, it’s the shape of the clothing. The “hemline” (hemline) – all one word – is the bottom of the dress, in this case. It’s where the dress ends – that would be the “hemline.” So, when people talk about dresses and skirts that women wear, they may talk about how the hemline has been going up – means the skirts have been getting shorter. The “hemline” is the bottom where the skirt or where the dress ends.

I say that “I don’t know if it’s because of the cut, the hemline, or the fit” (fit). The “fit” means how well something looks on you – if it’s tight. Is it too loose? Is it too tight? – these are always talking about the fit. If it’s just perfect, we say, “That’s a perfect fit.” It’s not too tight, not too loose.

Well, I end my story by saying that there is one question that I always know the answer to. And it is always the same answer. If my wife says, “Do I look fat in this?” meaning does this piece of clothing make me look like I am fat? the answer to that - and if you are a man, you know the answer to this question. It is always “No.” – doesn’t matter what the dress is; it’s always “No.” If you don’t know the answer to that question then you’re probably not married or don’t have a girlfriend.

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

[start of story]

One thing I dread more than anything else is going clothes shopping with my wife. It’s not that I don’t like helping her buy new clothes. It’s just that I have no fashion sense.

My wife always asks me, “What do you think of this one?” and I always answer with something like: “That’s nice” or “That looks good on you.” That usually satisfies her but sometimes I get harder questions like, “Which one looks better, this one or the other one?” It’s a hard question to answer because whichever one I pick, she will follow up with the question I dread the most: “Why?”

The truth is, I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s because of the color, the cut, the hemline, or the fit. I might have an idea, but I can’t put it into words.

One question I do know the answer to, though, is: “Do I look fat in this?” The answer to THAT question is always, always, “No!”

[end of story]

The script for today’s podcast was written by, of course, Dr. Lucy Tse.

Remember to visit our website at www.eslpod.com and if you have suggestions for the podcast, you can email those to us at eslpod@eslpod.com.

From Los Angeles, 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 dread – to not want to do something that one is expected to do; to wish that one did not have to do something

* I dread going to school. My classes are so boring!

clothes shopping – a shopping trip where one looks for new things to wear, such as shirts or pants

* Before school starts, we must go clothes shopping for the kids or they won’t have anything decent to wear.

fashion sense – a way of knowing which clothes look good or bad on one

* Carson has a great fashion sense and he hopes one day to be a famous clothing designer.

to satisfy – for someone’s needs or expectations to be met; to get something that one wants

* The bad little boy wasn’t satisfied with just one bag of candy; he wanted give more!

to pick – to choose; to select

* Picking a gift for Jerome’s wife is very difficult because she has very expensive taste.

to follow up – to ask more questions about something later; to find out more information about something

* After the doctor examined Juan, the doctor followed up with a few questions about his diet.

the truth is – honestly; saying something that is true

* The truth is, I didn’t like the cake that Edwina baked for me, but I appreciated her make it.

cut – the shape of a piece of clothing or cloth

* Since Geraldo gained weight, he prefers a business suit with a cut that hides his larger stomach.

hemline – the line around the bottom of a pant leg, skirt, or dress where the rough edge of the fabric is sewn under to make a neat line; the bottom of a skirt or dress

* The hemline on Ambika’s skirt was much too high.

fit – how large, small, tight, or loose a piece of clothing is

* Carlos loved the look of the pants, but he did not like the fit.

to put into words – to be able to say something; to describe something in speech or in writing

* She was so happy that she could not put her feelings into words.

Culture Note
Pop-up Stores

When the economy is bad for the average business, it can mean opportunities for a small number of other ones. “Such is the case” (that is the case; that is the situation) for “commercial property owners” (those who own buildings that are rented to businesses) in some “recessions” (bad economic times). Many shopping centers have empty spaces because so many stores have “gone out of business” (closed down). Property owners are therefore looking for ways to make money, and have discovered that they can rent these spaces for short periods of time to seasonal business. A “seasonal business” is one that can only survive certain times during the year.

For example, October 31st each year is Halloween in the United States. Many parents want to buy “costumes” (clothes worn by actors or children pretending to be someone else) for their children. Stores can only really sell these costumes during the few weeks before Halloween; afterwards, no one will want to buy them until next year. Selling Halloween costumes is therefore called a seasonal business, because a costume store would want to rent a “retail” (shop) space at a “mall” (a place with many stores) only for a short amount of time.

These short-term stores are now being called “pop-up stores”. “To pop up” means to appear suddenly. Many holiday stores, mostly for Christmas and Hanukkah in December, are now “popping up” at mall stores that were empty a few months ago, and that will be empty again in January, when the pop-up stores close. One of the most popular pop-up stores this fall is Toys “R” Us, a large company that sells toys and games for children.

It isn’t clear if these pop-up stores will continue to exist after the U.S. economy “recovers” (gets better, healthier), since retail mall owners prefer that their “tenants” (people or companies renting from them) have “leases” (contracts agreeing to rent a space) longer than just a month or two.