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0990 Being Socially Popular

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 990 – Being Socially Popular.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 990. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. You can also like us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod.

In this episode, Rosa and Grant talk about being popular. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Rosa: Has the mail come yet?

Grant: We didn’t get any mail today.

Rosa: Damn it!

Grant: What’s the matter?

Rosa: I’m waiting for an invitation from Joanna to her birthday party. I heard that she’s having a big bash, and it’s going to be the party of the season.

Grant: You’re worked up over a party?

Rosa: It’s not just any party. It’s the social event of the year. Anyone who’s anybody will be there. If I don’t get an invitation, it means I’ve been snubbed. I’d never be able to live it down.

Grant: Who is Joanna anyway? She’s just another rich girl, right?

Rosa: No, she’s not. She’s the most popular girl at school and the leader of the in-crowd. If she so much as talks to you, you’re in. But if she gives you the cold shoulder, you’re out. You’re nobody.

Grant: That’s ridiculous. She only has the power to do that because you all worship her. One of these days, I hope somebody takes her down a peg.

Rosa: But nobody would dare to go against Joanna. It would be the end of their social life.

Grant: So what?

Rosa: So what?! I should know better than to talk about it with a clueless guy!

[end of dialogue]

Rosa says to Grant, “Has the mail come yet?” Has the mail arrived? Grant says, “We didn’t get any mail today.” Rosa says, “Damn it!” “Damn (damn) it” is a vulgar expression that people use informally. It’s not something you should use. Typically, I never say this, or I only say that if I’m really angry. You would never want to say it in front of children, or your boss, or people you don’t know very well.

Grant says, “What’s the matter?” What is the problem? Rosa says, “I’m waiting for an invitation from Joanna to her birthday party. I heard that she’s having a big bash, and it’s going to be the party of the season.” Rosa is waiting for an invitation – a card or a letter asking someone to do something, usually to go somewhere for some formal event. This invitation is for a birthday party for Joanna. Rosa heard that Joanna is having a “big bash.” A “bash” (bash) is a large party, a large celebration with many people.

Rosa says, “It’s going to be the party of the season,” meaning the most important party of this year or this time of year. Grant says, “You’re worked up over a party?” “To be worked up” means to be excited – possibly worried or anxious – about something. “To get worked up over” something is to get excited or worried or perhaps even angry about something. Rosa says, “It’s not just any party. It’s the social event of the year.” Rosa is saying this is a very important party. It’s not just any party.

The “social event of the year” would be the most important social event, party, or celebration that people want to go to. Normally, we associate this expression with people who are powerful – perhaps politically powerful or, more likely, economically powerful. People who have a lot of money are involved in these kinds of large social events: the presidents of companies, and actors, and celebrities – at least if you live here in Los Angeles. In other places, such as Washington D.C., the social events are often political, or at least are attended by people with political power.

Rosa says, “Anyone who’s anybody will be there.” That phrase, “anyone who’s anybody,” means everyone who is important – everyone who is important in a certain social group. She says, “If I don’t get an invitation, it means I’ve been snubbed.” “To be snubbed” (snubbed) is to be treated badly by another person, to be ignored by someone because that person doesn’t think you’re important enough, perhaps. Rosa is worried about being snubbed by not being invited to this social event of the year.

She says, “I’d never be able to live it down.” The expression “to live something down” means to survive an embarrassing and difficult situation – to remain proud and confident even though something bad happened to you, especially something embarrassing. If a teenage boy who’s good at basketball plays a nine-year-old girl and is beaten by the nine-year-old girl, he might be embarrassed because he should have won. He may find it difficult to live that down – to not be embarrassed in the future, especially around his friends.

Grant says, “Who is Joanna anyway?” Grant doesn’t even know who this Joanna is. “She’s just another rich girl, right?” Rosa says, “No, she’s not. She’s the most popular girl at school and the leader of the in-crowd.” Now we learn that Rosa is a young girl, probably in high school. She’s talking about “the most popular girl at school” – the girl that everyone admires, that everybody wants to be friends with.

“She is the leader” – she’s the most important person – “of the in-crowd.” When we talk about the “in-crowd,” we’re talking about the most popular students at a school. High school usually is a place where you have very popular kids and kids like me who were not very popular, honestly. I was not in the in-crowd. I was not one of the most popular students in the school. Joanna is in the in-crowd and is very popular at Rosa’s school.

Rosa says, “If she so much as talks to you, you’re in.” The expression “so much as” is used here to mean “even.” It’s a phrase used to emphasize the minimum amount of something. “If you so much as look at me again, I’m going to punch you.” I’m going to hit you. Just looking at me, even that small thing, will make me want to punch you. I don’t know why. I think you’re nice person. I really don’t want to punch you. It’s just an example.

Rosa says that if Joanna talks to you, you’re in. All she has to do is talk to you, and then people will consider you to be part of the in-crowd, part of the popular group of students. Rosa says, “But if she gives you the cold shoulder, you’re out. You’re nobody.” “To give someone the cold shoulder” means to ignore someone, to pay no attention to someone – not to be friendly or kind to someone. If Joanna gives you the cold shoulder, according to Rosa, you’re out. “You’re out” is the opposite of “you’re in.” You’re not popular. “You’re nobody,” Rosa says.

Grant says, “That’s ridiculous. She only has the power to do that because you all” – meaning you other students – “worship her.” “To worship” (worship) here means just to give a lot of respect or admiration. Normally, we use this word in talking about God or some divine power. Here, we’re using it just to mean admire, respect, look up to. Grant continues, “One of these days, I hope somebody takes her down a peg.” “One of these days” is a phrase meaning someday, eventually. We use this to talk about something that might happen in the future, even though we don’t know when, specifically.

Grant hopes somebody takes Joanna down a peg. “To take someone down a peg” (peg) means to do something to make an arrogant person less proud – “to humble” someone, we might say. “To take someone down a peg” is to take somebody who thinks they’re better than everyone else and make them realize that they’re not.

Rosa says, “But nobody would dare go against Joanna.” “To dare” (dare) is to have the courage to do something that is very difficult or perhaps even dangerous. “To go against” someone is to disagree with another person or to oppose another person. “To dare to go against” someone would be to have the courage, then, to disagree or to oppose another person.

Rosa says, “It would be the end of their social life.” Your “social life” is the time that you spend outside of work and school, enjoying yourself. If you go against Joanna, Rosa is saying, you will no longer have a good social life. It will be the end of your social life. Grant says, “So what?” meaning “Why is that important? Who cares?”

Rosa says, “So what?!” She can’t believe what Grant is saying. “I should know better than to talk about it with a clueless guy.” “Clueless” (clueless) means to be unaware of something – to not understand something or not know very much about something. It’s used as an insulting term. If you say someone is clueless, you mean they’re so stupid they don’t realize what is going on.

Rosa is calling Grant a “clueless guy.” Here, “guy” (guy) is used to mean “boy” or “man” – probably “boy” here, since we’re talking about high school students. Rosa is calling Grant “clueless” because he doesn’t understand the importance of being part of the in-crowd, apparently.

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

[start of dialogue]

Rosa: Has the mail come yet?

Grant: We didn’t get any mail today.

Rosa: Damn it!

Grant: What’s the matter?

Rosa: I’m waiting for an invitation from Joanna to her birthday party. I heard that she’s having a big bash, and it’s going to be the party of the season.

Grant: You’re worked up over a party?

Rosa: It’s not just any party. It’s the social event of the year. Anyone who’s anybody will be there. If I don’t get an invitation, it means I’ve been snubbed. I’d never be able to live it down.

Grant: Who is Joanna anyway? She’s just another rich girl, right?

Rosa: No, she’s not. She’s the most popular girl at school and the leader of the in-crowd. If she so much as talks to you, you’re in. But if she gives you the cold shoulder, you’re out. You’re nobody.

Grant: That’s ridiculous. She only has the power to do that because you all worship her. One of these days, I hope somebody takes her down a peg.

Rosa: But nobody would dare to go against Joanna. It would be the end of their social life.

Grant: So what?

Rosa: So what?! I should know better than to talk about it with a clueless guy!

[end of dialogue]

Our thanks to the most popular scriptwriter on the Internet for English-language learning, Dr. Lucy Tse.

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

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
bash – a big party and celebration involving many people, a lot of excitement, and often spending a lot of money

* They’re going to have a big bash for Spencer’s 21st birthday.

worked up – with a lot of emotions, excitement, and worry or anxiety about something; not calm

* Yolanda usually seems so calm. I never thought she’d get this worked up about her final exams.

social event of the year – an extremely important social event that many important people are invited to and that most people would like to go to, but that only certain people may attend

* The First Lady’s birthday party will be the social event of the year in Washington, D.C.

anyone who’s anybody – everyone who is important or aware of something; everyone who has at least a little bit of social standing

* Their guest list is so long. Anyone who’s anybody will be getting an invitation.

to snub – to treat someone badly by acting as if one is superior to that person, especially by saying or doing something to show that one feels another person is not as important

* The new teacher feels snubbed by the older teachers with experience.

to live (something) down – to survive an embarrassing and difficult situation, but remain confident and proud so that other people stop laughing at one or stop talking about what happened

* Did you hear how those teenage boys were defeated by a 12-year-old girl on the basketball court? They’ll never live it down!

popular – admired and envied by many people because one has many friends and dresses and acts in a special way that other people like to imitate

* The popular kids at school often hang out with the athletes, but they rarely spend time with the nerds and the kids who like theater and music.

in-crowd – the most popular students at school; a group of friends who are admired and envied by almost everyone, especially when they feel they are superior to most other people at the school

* In high school, being part of the in-crowd sometimes seems like the most important thing in life, but later, it becomes clear that it doesn’t really matter.

so much as – even; a phrase used for emphasis to talk about the minimum amount of something

* If a poker player so much as blinks, the other players might interpret it as a sign of what kind of cards he or she has.

to give (someone) the cold shoulder – to pay no attention to someone; to not be friendly or kind toward another person; to ignore someone; to not respond in a friendly way to someone’s actions or words

* Why are you giving me the cold shoulder? Did I do something to offend you?

to worship – to show a lot of respect and admiration for God or for a person, because one thinks that person is perfect or almost perfect

* Many businesspeople worship Donald Trump because he has made so many successful investments.

one of these days – someday; eventually; a phrase used to talk about what might happen in the future, but when a specific date has not been chosen or identified

* One of these days, we should go rafting on the McKenzie river.

to take (someone) down a peg – to humble someone; to do something that makes a proud person feel less arrogant and stop feeling superior to others

* He’s a good politician, but he’s arrogant. Someone needs to take him down a peg.

to dare – to have the courage to do something that is very difficult, dangerous, or socially unacceptable

* The girls dared their friend to ask the football player out on a date.

to go against – to disagree with another person; to confront someone; to no longer follow or agree with another person

* Henrietta is a great boss as long as none of her employees go against her ideas and policies.

social life – the amount of time and the ways in which one spends time with friends outside of work and family obligations for fun and to make connections with other people

* Chelsea has a lively social life and goes out with friends most evenings.

clueless – without awareness or an understanding of something; not knowledgeable about something

* Lyle is clueless about home maintenance and repair.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Grant mean when he asks, “You’re worked up over a party?”
a) He wants to know how much work has been put into planning the party.
b) He wants to understand why Rosa is stressed and anxious about the party.
c) He wants to know how much Rosa has already paid for the party.

2. Why does Rosa refer to Grant as a “clueless guy”?
a) Because he wasn’t invited to the party, either.
b) Because he is lost and doesn’t know where to go for help.
c) Because he does understand social relationships within the school.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
bash

The word “bash,” in this podcast, means a big party and celebration involving many people, a lot of excitement, and often a lot of money: “After the awards ceremony, there will be a big bash for all the winners.” As a verb, “to bash (someone or something)” means to criticize someone or say something bad about something: “They spent a lot of time bashing the new law, but nobody had any suggestions for alternatives.” The phrase “to bash into (something)” means to hit something very hard: “Freddie lost his balance and bashed into the door.” Finally, the phrase “to bash (something) in” means to break or damage something by hitting it very hard, causing it to be out of shape: “Nick bashed in the car’s windshield when he accidentally dropped a large piece of wood on it.”

to go against

In this podcast, the phrase “to go against” means to disagree with another person or to confront someone: “The king punishes anyone who goes against his wishes.” The phrase “to go against the grain” means to do something that is unexpected and often unpleasant: “The school’s new cafeteria worker is going against the grain and refusing to serve unhealthy food to students.” The phrase “to come up against (something)” means to be faced with an obstacle: “Sales are strong, but we’re coming up against some new competitors in the marketplace.” Finally, the phrase “to have something against (someone or something)” means to dislike someone or something: “I don’t have anything against other people playing the lottery, but I never do it myself.”

Culture Note
Social Cliques

Many high school students “long” (want very much) to “fit in” (be part of a group; feel accepted) with their “peers” (classmates; people who are the same age and in a similar position), and commonly form tight “cliques,” or social groups of students with similar interests and “social status” (how one is perceived by others in terms of importance).

The “in-crowd” or the “popular kids” are the “top” (highest; most powerful and influential) social clique. These students are admired by most other students, but the clique is highly “selective” (allowing only certain people to be part of a group), so many students feel “left out” (sad because one is not allowed to participate).

Most schools also have a social clique of “jocks” or students who are best known for their athletic abilities. The football players are usually “at the top of” (the most influential members of) the clique of jocks, and many movies “stereotypically” (based on common beliefs that aren’t necessarily correct) show the football “captain” (leader of the team) dating the “head” (leader) cheerleader.

The “geeks,” who are interested in computers, video games, and science, don’t have much interest in fitting in with the in-crowd. The “nerds” are students who spend a lot of time studying and trying to get good grades, even if it interferes with their social life.

Some schools have cliques of “goths,” or students who wear black clothing with symbols of death, black hair, and “pale” (white) faces with bright red “lipstick” (makeup color for one’s lips). Other cliques might be related to theater, music, or the school band.

Comprehension Answers
1 -b

2 - c