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0798 Being Cautious or Thrill-Seeking

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 798: Being Cautious or Thrill-Seeking.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 798. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is eslpod.com. Go there today to download a Learning Guide for this episode. You can do that by becoming a member of ESL Podcast.

This episode is a dialogue between Paula and Robert about different kinds of personalities: people who like to be careful or cautious, and people who don’t. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Paula: Did you get an invitation to Kip and Sheri’s wedding?

Robert: Yeah, I did. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the two of them getting married. Never in my wildest dreams would I put those two together. It boggles my mind that they’re in the least compatible.

Paula: What do you mean?

Robert: Sheri is really adventurous and definitely a thrill-seeker.

Paula: Maybe she’s mellowed over the years.

Robert: I don’t think so, and Kip is the opposite. He’s always toed the line and I don’t think he has an adventurous bone in his body.

Paula: I’ve never thought of Kip as being uptight.

Robert: No, he’s not uptight. He’s just very cautious. You’d never find him looking for an adrenaline rush or even a little novelty.

Paula: You know what they say: opposites attract.

Robert: If that’s true, then in their case, polar opposites attract!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Paula saying to Robert, “Did you get an invitation to Kip and Sheri’s wedding?” Robert says, “Yeah (yes), I did. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the two of them getting married.” “To wrap (wrap) your head around (something)” means to be able to understand or try to understand something that’s very difficult, that is perhaps surprising or even strange in some way. Robert says, “Never in my wildest dreams would I put those two together.” The expression “never in my wildest dreams” means that this event – this situation is very unlikely; you never thought it would happen. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would quit my job as a professor and become a professional podcaster.” That’s true! “Never in my wildest dreams,” I never thought that would be possible. Robert says, “It boggles my mind that they’re in the least compatible.” “To boggle (boggle) your mind” means you find something very confusing, very surprising, very difficult to understand. It’s similar to trying to wrap your head around something. If you have difficulty wrapping your head around something, it boggles your mind; it’s so unusual, it’s so strange, it’s difficult for you to understand.

Robert says it boggles his mind that they (Kip and Sheri) are in the least compatible. “To be compatible” means to be able to work together. Usually we use this adjective when we are describing two people who are romantically linked or romantically connected; we say these two people are compatible, that means their personalities can work with each other, they can get along, they would be a good couple, a good marriage, a good relationship. “In the least” means even a little bit, even a small amount. So, when Robert says, “It boggles my mind that they are in the least compatible,” he means he’s surprised they’re compatible at all, even in a little amount, even in a small amount. There’s a common expression – another common expression “I’m not interested in the least” or “I’m not in the least interested,” that means I’m not interested at all. “Do you want to go with me to the party?” and she says, “No, I’m not interested in going with you in the least,” not at all. Move on, find somebody else, that’s what she’s saying. Well, that’s what Robert is saying. He’s surprised that Kip and Sheri are a couple, are getting married in fact.

Paula is confused; she says, “What do you mean?” Robert says, “Sheri is really adventurous and definitely a thrill-seeker.” “To be adventurous” means to want to have exciting new experiences, to want to do things that perhaps are a little dangerous, like driving in Los Angeles for example. Robert describes Sheri as a thrill-seeker. “To seek” (seek) means to look for something. “To be a seeker,” with an “er” at the end, would be a person who is seeking something – who is looking for something. Well, Sheri is seeking thrills (thrills). A “thrill-seeker” is someone who’s looking for thrills. “Thrills” is another word for excitement, things that are exciting to do. Usually we use this word for people who are perhaps looking for things that are even a little dangerous, a little risky.

Paula says, “Maybe Sheri’s mellowed over the years.” Maybe she has mellowed (mellowed). “To mellow” means to become calmer, perhaps less exciting, but also someone who doesn’t get upset as easily or someone who doesn’t need to have all of the excitement and adventure in their life. I definitely have mellowed over the years. I used to drink regular Coke – regular Coca-Cola, now I drink Diet Coca-Cola. Less exciting, more mellow, but that’s me! That’s what happens when you get older, kids.

Robert says, “I don’t think so.” He doesn’t think Sheri has mellowed over the years – in recent years. He says, “Kip is the opposite.” The “opposite” is something that is very different, something that would be the complete reversal of another situation: open and closed, on and off; these are all opposites. Robert says that Kip has always toed the line and I don’t think he has an adventurous bone in his body. “To toe (toe) the line” means to follow the rules exactly, to do what you are told to do, what you are expected to do. Robert says, “I don’t think Kip has an adventurous bone in his body. This is a common expression: “He doesn’t have a blank bone in his body.” “He doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body.” “He doesn’t have an adventurous bone in his body.” “He doesn’t have a thrill-seeking bone in his body.” You could put in any adjective there. What you’re saying is that this person is not like that at all, has absolutely none of those qualities, none of those characteristics. So Robert is saying that Kip is not adventurous at all, “not in the least” we might say.

Paula says, “I’ve never thought of Kip as being uptight.” “Uptight” (uptight – one word) is a good word to know, it means to be tense, but also to be wanting to control everything. It’s definitely a negative way of describing someone. If you say, “Oh, he’s really uptight,” usually that means he’s too conservative, he’s too restricted in what he will allow himself to do. It’s almost always used as a criticism of someone. Notice that Paula thinks that because he isn’t adventurous he must be uptight. That’s not necessarily true, but that’s what Paula thinks.

Robert says, “No, he’s not uptight. He’s just very cautious.” He’s just very careful, he doesn’t take a lot of risks. Robert says, “You’d never find him looking for an adrenaline rush or even a little novelty.” “Adrenaline” (adrenaline) is a hormone, a special chemical in your body that gets released when something dangerous or exciting happens; it can cause you to perhaps start having your heart beat faster. Adrenaline is something that happens when people perhaps are faced with a dangerous situation or an exciting situation. A “rush” (rush) is any sort of exciting feeling, any sort of emotion that you would feel when you are excited, usually a positive thing. So, an “adrenaline rush” would be a positive feeling you would have when something very exciting happens. “Novelty” (novelty) here means simply something that is new, something that is interesting. The word “novel” means new. “Novel” can also be a book – a fiction book that you read, a long story. But here, it means something that’s new.

Paula says, “You know what they say: opposites attract.” “To attract” means that something pulls something else toward it, like two parts of a magnet. Well, the expression “opposites attract” means that two people who may be very different in terms of their personality might be attracted to each other, they may be romantically or become romantically interested in each other. It’s an old expression, the idea that sometimes people who are very different from each other are attracted to each other. I don’t know if this is true. I suppose you could find something different in almost every couple – every husband and wife or every romantic relationship – and say, “Oh, look. See, they’re opposite.” But, there are things that you’re always going to have different from your romantic partner, so I’m not sure that’s necessarily true. But, that’s expression: “opposites attract.” It was also a terrible song by Paula Abdul back in the 1980s, but that’s another – another, uh, episode!

Robert says, “If that’s true (if it’s true that opposites attract), then in their case, polar opposites attract!” There’s another expression, for something to be a “polar (polar) opposite,” that means that two things are as different from each other as they possibly can be. They’re not just opposite, they’re extreme opposites, they’re “polar opposites.” You can think of the North Pole and the South Pole in opposite ends of the Earth, or two poles of a magnet. Well, “polar opposites” are extreme opposites, things that are very different. Robert is making a little joke. He’s saying not only are Kip and Sheri opposites, they’re polar opposites.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Paula: Did you get an invitation to Kip and Sheri’s wedding?

Robert: Yeah, I did. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the two of them getting married. Never in my wildest dreams would I put those two together. It boggles my mind that they’re in the least compatible.

Paula: What do you mean?

Robert: Sheri is really adventurous and definitely a thrill-seeker.

Paula: Maybe she’s mellowed over the years.

Robert: I don’t think so, and Kip is the opposite. He’s always toed the line and I don’t think he has an adventurous bone in his body.

Paula: I’ve never thought of Kip as being uptight.

Robert: No, he’s not uptight. He’s just very cautious. You’d never find him looking for an adrenaline rush or even a little novelty.

Paula: You know what they say: opposites attract.

Robert: If that’s true, then in their case, polar opposites attract!

[end of dialogue]

Sometimes it boggles my mind just how wonderful our scripts are here on ESL Podcast; that’s because they’re written by the amazing Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to wrap (one’s) head around (something) – to be able to understand something that is difficult, surprising, or challenging to understand

* Shinji is looking for a textbook that will help him wrap his head around music theory.

never in (one’s) wildest dreams – a phrase used to emphasize that something is very unlikely and that one never thought it would happen

* Never in our wildest dreams did we expect to sell our home for so much money!

to boggle (one’s) mind – to be very confusing, surprising, and difficult to understand or accept

* How can you get so many parking tickets? It boggles my mind. Just read the signs before you park on the street!

in the least – even a little bit; to any extent

* If he were interested in the least in having a relationship with Heather, he would have called her by now.

compatible – able to work together or able to spend time together without trouble; able to have a comfortable relationship with someone

* Richard introduced Sarah to his cousin, because he thought they’d be compatible.

adventurous – wanting to have exciting new experiences and willing to take some risks

* Willie was very adventurous as a young man, climbing tall mountains all over the world.

thrill-seeker – someone who looks for very exciting, often dangerous experiences

* Clarke is a thrill-seeker who enjoys jumping out of airplanes and helicopters with a parachute.

to mellow – to become calmer, more approachable, or less exciting over time

* Everyone noticed how much Jacques mellowed once he stopped drinking so much coffee.

opposite – extremely different from something else, especially when one of two related things

* Tara is tall, thin, and graceful. Her husband is the opposite: short, fat, and clumsy.

to toe the line – to follow the rules; to do what is expected; to meet expectations

* Lyle used to be very rebellious, but his years in the military taught him to toe the line.

to have an adventurous bone in (one’s) body – to have interest in doing exciting, adventurous, and risky things

* Olivia doesn’t have an adventurous bone in her body. She’d much rather stay at home and read a book than do anything new or exciting.

uptight – tense; wanting to control oneself and one’s environment; not relaxed or flexible

* Edgar is very uptight and dislikes being around young children because he feels out of control.

cautious – careful; not willing to take risks or try new things

* If you’re too cautious, you’ll never be able to expand your business.

adrenaline rush – the good, pleasurable feeling people have when they do something very exciting, risky, and/or dangerous, especially a physical activity

* Mountain biking is good exercise, but Quentin really does it for the adrenaline rush.

novelty – something new and interesting; something that is interesting because one has never tried it before

* When Mohammed opened an Ethiopian restaurant, it was a novelty in the small town.

opposites attract – a phrase used to describe how two people who are very different may enjoy spending time together and beginning a relationship, especially a romantic relationship

* Parto and Rebecca’s marriage is a good example of how opposites attract. He has always enjoyed spending time outdoors and she prefers staying inside, but they’re really happy together.

polar opposites – two things that are very different from each other and could not be more different

* Alix and Kelsey will never be able to run a successful business together. Their management styles are polar opposites.

Comprehension Questions
1. How would you describe Kip and Sheri?
a) Kip is more of a risk-taker than Sheri.
b) Kip is less of a risk-taker than Sheri.
c) Neither Kip nor Sheri likes to take risks.

2. What does Robert mean when he says, “It boggles my mind that they’re in the least compatible”?
a) He doesn’t understand their relationship.
b) He thinks they should have children soon.
c) He believes they should go to counseling.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to wrap (one’s) head around

The phrase “to wrap (one’s) head around,” in this podcast, means to be able to understand something that is difficult, surprising, or challenging to understand: “Rudolph won’t make any investment decisions until he has had time to wrap his head around all the numbers.” The phrase “to wrap (something) up” normally means to decorate an item or box in colored paper to present it to someone as a gift: “Could you please wrap this up in pink paper?” The phrase “to wrap (something) up” can also mean to finish a project or a meeting: “Let’s wrap this discussion up in the next few minutes so we can all get home on time.” Finally, the phrase “to be wrapped up in/by (something)” can mean to be very busy doing something: “I’m sorry I didn’t return your call sooner, but I was wrapped up in some projects at work.”

in the least

In this podcast, the phrase “in the least” means even a little bit or to any extent: “If he cared about his health in the least, he’d start exercising and stop eating so much junk food.” The phrase “not in the least” means not at all: “I asked Pepe if he was mad, but he smiled and said, ‘Not in the least.’” The phrase “the least (one) could do” describes something simple that a person could and should have done in order to be polite, although that person could actually do much more: “You’ve been such a good friend to me! Helping you move is the least I could do.” Finally, the phrase “last but not least” is used when introducing the last item in a list to show that it is important: “I want to thank my agent, my producer, and last but not least, my wife.”

Culture Note
Activities for Adrenaline Junkies

Adrenaline junkies choose to participate in a lot of activities that other people might “find” (think are; perceive as) “crazy” (insane; without logic), all in their search for the next adrenaline rush.

Many adrenaline junkies “seek” (look for) an adrenaline rush through “freefall” (falling through the air without being supported by anything). They might go “bungee jumping,” which involves jumping from a high “cliff” (a rocky wall on the side of a mountain or canyon) or bridge while tied to a long elastic rope that pulls them back up and does not let them fall to the ground. They might try jumping out of an airplane or a helicopter while it is in the air, opening a “parachute” (a large piece of fabric that fills with wind and slows down a falling object) before they hit the earth.

Some adrenaline junkies prefer to get their adrenaline rush by “propelling” (making something move forward) their body at high speed. “Downhill skiing” (going down a snow-covered mountain with two long, flat pieces attached to one’s feet), “bobsledding” (going down a very steep, icy path in a long, round vehicle), or car racing are all exciting, dangerous activities that allow people to move very quickly.

Other adrenaline junkies use “wild animals” (animals living in nature, not in zoos or in homes) to get an adrenaline rush. For example, they might go swimming with “sharks” (very large fish that swim in the ocean and sometimes attack people), maybe in a “cage” (a protective box made of large metal poles with space between them).

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - a