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0194 An Unwanted House Guest

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 194, “An Unwanted Houseguest.”

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 194. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in the beautiful City of Los Angeles, in the State of California, here in the USA.

Today's topic is “An Unwanted Houseguest.” Let's get started.

[Start of story]

About a month ago, my friend Richard called me and asked if he could come stay with me for a couple of weeks. I usually don't like having houseguests but Richard was a good friend. He's an artist and he was thinking about moving to LA. He wanted to see if he could get a job in the area. I told him, yes, of course, and he came down right away. As I said, that was a month ago. He's been living in my guestroom ever since.

I like Richard and we get along, but I just don't like having a roommate. Sometimes he gets in the way when I want to invite someone over and he's always hogging the couch. One of my pet peeves is a dirty bathroom and Richard is a slob. I finally decided to let him know that he had overstayed his welcome. But, how do you throw out one of your best friends?

On the day I was going to talk to Richard, he came home with some big news. He had met some guy at the employment agency and he planned to move in with him. I was bowled over! He had just met him. I tried to talk him out of it, but he'd made up his mind. Richard has always been a free spirit so who am I to tell him what to do? I just hope he'll be happy.

[End of story]

This podcast is called, “An Unwanted Houseguest.” When someone is unwanted, “unwanted,” that means that no one wants them. To be wanted would be, of course, the opposite. I hope you are wanted, for example, by someone. A “houseguest,” which is two words put together as one word, house, “house,” and guest, “guest,” a houseguest is someone who is staying at your house, someone who is visiting you and sleeping at your house for maybe, a day, a week, a month. Those would be people we would call houseguests.

Well, our story begins by me saying that, “about a month ago my friend Richard called me and asked if he could stay with me for a couple of weeks.” So, Richard called me on the telephone and asked if he could live at my house for a couple of weeks. “To stay with (someone),” in this case, means that you are sleeping in their house or in their apartment. It doesn't mean that you are just visiting for an hour or two. It means that you are actually living there for some time. I say in the story that “I usually don't like having houseguests,” that's true actually, “but Richard was a good friend. He's an artist and was thinking about moving” here to Los Angeles. Everyone who moves to Los Angeles is an artist or thinks they're an artist!

Well, my friend Richard wanted to find a job here in L.A. I told him that “Yes, of course” he could stay with me, and he came to my house. “As I said, that was a month ago.” The expression, “as I said,” is when you are telling a story and you mention something - you talk about something and then you may go and talk about something else and then you want to go back and continue your story, you may use this expression, “as I said.” So, I'm reminding you that it was a month ago that Richard came to stay at my house.

“He's been living in my guestroom ever since.” My guestroom, “guestroom,” all one word, is a place in a house, a room in a house that no one sleeps in normally. It's an extra room with a bed so that when you have guests they can sleep in your guestroom. My guests, at my house, usually sleep in the garage, that way they won't stay very long.

Now, I say in the story that “I like Richard, and we get along.” To get along, “along,” means that we're friends, we don't argue with each other, we're nice to each other, we're polite to each other. But, I say that I “don't like having a roommate,” and sometimes Richard “gets in the way when I want to invite someone over.” To get in the way, “way,” means that you are interfering; you are preventing someone from doing something they want to do, usually because you are in their house, or in some space, their office, for example, that they want to do something.

I say that Richard it is “always hogging the couch.” To hog, “hog,” is a informal word - verb -that means to use something and not let anyone else use it. So, I sit on the couch and I don't let my wife sit next to me - I'm hogging the couch. A hog, “hog,” is a pig. “Oink, oink,” would be the noise for a pig. And, the verb, to hog, means that you are using something and not letting anyone else use it.

Well, “One of my pet peeves,” “pet peeves,” two words, pet peeves, “is a dirty bathroom.” A pet peeve is something that makes you angry; one specific thing that you don't like that bothers you, that always gets you mad. To peeve someone off means to make someone mad. So, when we say it's my pet peeve, we mean that it's something that bothers me especially. Maybe not other people around me, but it bothers me. So, a pet peeve can be, for example, that you hate when someone knocks at your door trying to sell something to you, which happens all the time to me here in Los Angeles. People are constantly coming to the door, knocking and wanting to sell things. Well, one of my pet peeves is being bothered by these people. So, it's something that bothers you.

Well, one thing that bothers me in the story “is a dirty bathroom,” and unfortunately, “Richard is a slob.” A slob, “slob,” is, again, an informal word, which means someone who is not very neat, someone who makes a mess, someone who, for example, leaves their clothes on the floor and doesn't wash their dishes when they are done eating - that would be a slob. We might also call that person a pig, “pig,” like the animal, but that's a little stronger. A slob is still, however, not a nice word. You do not want your wife calling you a slob. That would not be good.

“I finally decided to” tell Richard that he has “overstayed his welcome.” To overstay, “overstay,” one word, means to stay at someone's house or apartment longer than you should. The expression is normally to overstay your welcome, “welcome,” meaning you are staying too long. I welcome you into my house means I'm nice to you, I say yes, please come to my house, but then you stay much too long. That's overstaying your welcome, kind of what my relatives do sometimes. So, “how do you throw out one of your best friends?” To throw, “throw,” out, “out,” two words, means to get rid of, to take someone and remove them from your house. To get rid of them is another way of saying that.

Well, “On the day I was going to talk to Richard,” and tell him “that he had overstayed his welcome,” he came home and told me that he had met someone “at the employment agency, and he planned to move in with him.” The employment agency is a place, usually run by the government, where they have jobs - a list of jobs that you can look at. The expression to move in, “move in,” two words, means that you are going to live with someone. So, “I met a good friend and we decided to move in together,” we're going to live in the same apartment or the same house.”

I was very surprised that Richard said this, “I was bowled over!” To be bowled, “bowled,” over, “over,” means to be very surprised, to be shocked. You can't believe it, it's so incredible. That's to be bowled over, like someone is knocking you down. We sometimes use that expression “he almost bowled me over,” meaning he almost knocked me down. The sports is called bowling, “bowling,” and there's a verb, to bowl. And, bowling is when you have a round ball, you throw it on the ground and then it hits, what we call in English, the pins, “pins,” which are these white objects that you try to hit all the pins so that they fall down. Well, that's where is the expression, to be bowled over, means. Here, it means to be surprised.

Well, I tried to talk Richard out of moving in with this person. “To talk (someone) out of (something)” means to try to convince or persuade them that they are wrong, to try to get them to change their decision, to change their mind. But, Richard had “made up his mind.” To make up your mind means to make a decision and usually it's your final decision. You think about it and then you say, “yes, this is what I'm going to do.”

“Richard has always been a free spirit.” A free spirit, “spirit,” is someone who doesn't like to do things the way everyone else does, someone who does things differently. And, I say in the story, “who am I to tell him what to do?” That expression, who am I to tell you something, means it is not my place, it is not my right, I should not be telling you what to do.

Well, I will tell you what to do right now: Listen to the dialogue at a native rate of speech.

[Start of story]

About a month ago, my friend Richard called me and asked if he could come stay with me for a couple of weeks. I usually don't like having houseguests but Richard was a good friend. He's an artist and he was thinking about moving to LA. He wanted to see if he could get a job in the area. I told him, yes, of course, and he came down right away. As I said, that was a month ago. He's been living in my guestroom ever since.

I like Richard and we get along, but I just don't like having a roommate. Sometimes he gets in the way when I want to invite someone over and he's always hogging the couch. One of my pet peeves is a dirty bathroom and Richard is a slob. I finally decided to let him know that he had overstayed his welcome. But, how do you throw out one of your best friends?

On the day I was going to talk to Richard, he came home with some big news. He had met some guy at the employment agency and he planned to move in with him. I was bowled over! He had just met him. I tried to talk him out of it, but he'd made up his mind. Richard has always been a free spirit so who am I to tell him what to do? I just hope he'll be happy.

[End of story]

The script for today's podcast was written by Dr. Lucy Tse. Remember, you can email us if you have a question or comment about our podcast. Our email address is eslpod@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 stay with (someone) – to live in someone’s home for a short time

* When you visit California next month, do you want to stay with me?

houseguest – someone who visits you and sleeps in your home

* Omar has some houseguest staying with him right now and he asked me if he could bring them with him to the party.

As (someone) said… – a phrase used when someone is repeating or saying in another way what they have said before

* We have to get there in 15 minutes. As I said, there isn’t enough time to stop for coffee.

guestroom – a bedroom in your home where visitors sleep

* She said that she didn’t want to make her guestroom too comfortable or her guests will never leave.

ever since – throughout a time period since something happened in the past

* He’s been afraid of the water ever since he fell off a boat when he was 8-years-old.

to get along with (someone) – to be together with someone without having problems or arguing

* This time, let’s try to hire an office manager that everyone can get along with.

in the way – someone or something that gets between you and what you want, or that makes a situation inconvenient

* I can’t see the movie because that woman’s hat is in the way.

to hog – to keep or to use all of something

* Stop hogging the cookies and let everybody else have some, too.

pet peeve – something specific that happens often that bothers you

* One of my pet peeves is when people park their cars so that they take up two parking spaces.


slob – someone who is messy or lazy

* I don’t like it when my parents visit me at my apartment because they think I live like a slob.

to overstay (someone’s) welcome – to stay longer than the other person (usually the person who invited you) wanted you to stay

* I’d better go. It’s after 11 and I don’t want to overstay my welcome.

to throw out – to tell someone to leave

* Those guys drank too much and started a fight, and the owner of the bar threw them out.

to move in – to begin to live somewhere

* She plans to move in to her new apartment this weekend and I promised to help her.

to be bowled over – to be very surprised

* The boss was bowled over when all of his employees decided to quit on the same day.

to talk (someone) out of (something) – to try to change someone’s mind; to try to get someone to change their decision

* Adam tried to talk me out of buying this car because he said it wasn’t in good condition, but I had already paid for it.

to make up (one’s) mind – to make a decision, with no plans to change it

* Sometimes it’s so hard to make up my mind about where to take my date for dinner.

free spirit – someone who doesn’t follow the rules of society; someone who doesn’t like to do what everyone else does

* It’s hard to know where she will move next. She’s such a free spirit.

who am I to… – I should not; I don’t have the right, power, or ability to…

* If you want to quit your job, who am I to stop you?

Comprehension Questions
1. The person in the story thinks that:
a) Richard is a great roommate.
b) he should be a free spirit like Richard.
c) Richard has stayed too long.

2. Richard plans to:
a) move back to the city where he came from.
b) stay in L.A.
c) move in with Dr. Jeff McQuillan.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
in the way

The phrase “in the way” in this podcast, means to have something between you and what you want: “Robert wants to go out with Diana, but her boyfriend, Fausto, is in the way.” A similar phrase, “in a way,” means something very different. It is used to mean something is partly or not completely, and is usually used when trying to compare two things that isn’t usually thought of as being alike: “In a way, working in a company is like being a part of a family.” This means that there are similar things about being in a company and in a family, but that they are not exactly the same. This phrase can also be used to mean in a specific manner: “Do you think you can borrow money from him in a way that wouldn’t get him mad?”

to make up (someone’s) mind

In this podcast, the phrase “to make up (someone’s) mind” means to make a decision: “I wish he would make up his mind about who he’ll hire.” A similar phrase, “to make up with (someone),” means to end a fight or argument with someone: “To make up with Dan, she told him that she was sorry and that she would never break a promise again.” A popular saying, “to kiss and make up,” means that you don’t want to fight anymore and that you are suggesting that you both end the argument. For example, “You’ve been angry with me all day. Why don’t we kiss and make up?”

Culture Note
In the U.S., it is normally up to a “host,” or someone who entertains other people, to invite someone to stay in their house. It’s not considered polite to ask if you can stay in someone’s house, unless you are a member of their family or a very close friend. You can “hint,” or suggest in an indirect way, that you would like to stay in their home, but asking directly would be considered impolite.

There are a few things that you can do to be a good houseguest.

Don’t be a “freeloader,” or someone who expects others to pay for them. Offer to take your hosts out to dinner or to cook them a meal. Offer to pay for any long distance calls and any costs for entertainment, such as tickets for the theater or a sporting event.
Bring your own supplies. Don’t expect to use your hosts’ shampoo or toothpaste, and if you plan to stay more than one or two days, buy your own groceries, such as milk and bread.
Offer to help around the house, such as wash dishes after dinner. Don’t expect your hosts to “wait on you,” or do things for you as though they were your servants.
Bring a gift to thank them for letting you stay in their home. For example, you can bring them a bottle of wine, some chocolates, or something special from the city you come from. You can give them the gift when you arrive, when you prepare to leave, or send it to them soon after your stay.
And, finally, don’t overstay your welcome!
Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - b