Daily English
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1184 Being Boastful

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,184 – Being Boastful.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,184. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California. (Yes, that was the “Star Spangled Banner” of the U.S.A.)

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. You won’t get any music there, but you will be able to download our Learning Guide that has a complete transcript of everything we say. We’re also on Facebook. Oh yeah, we are! Go to facebook.com/eslpod and like us, because we like you.

On this episode, we’re going to hear a story about someone who is very boastful – who likes to talk about how great he is. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

My boss is a complete blowhard. He likes to boast about his accomplishments and acquisitions every chance he gets. Unfortunately, I seem to be his favorite audience.

Boss: You won’t believe what I did over the weekend. I went mountain climbing and skydiving.

What I wanted to say was, “Uh, spare me!” But what I said instead was, “Oh, really? How exciting.” It doesn’t take much encouragement to get him going.

Boss: And I found time to test-drive the new McQ sports car yesterday. I’m thinking of buying one.

Do I really look that gullible? I knew that the boss didn’t have that kind of money, but I didn’t let it show on my face and simply said, “That’s a very impressive car.”

Boss: I have my eye on a luxury vacation condo by the lake. Some lucky girl will get to stay there with me.

Now I knew he was blowing smoke, but what could I say? I just muttered, “Lucky girl,” and left it at that.

What was the point of all that, unless . . .

[end of dialogue]

Our story begins with Lucy saying, “My boss is a complete blowhard.” A “blowhard” (blowhard) is a person who likes to talk about why he is so great, a person who likes to “brag” (brag). “To brag” means to talk about your accomplishments in such a way that you want to impress other people. You want other people to know how great you are. “He likes to boast about his accomplishments and acquisitions every chance he gets,” Lucy says.

Again, she’s talking about her boss who likes “to boast” (boast). “To boast” means the same as “to brag.” “Accomplishments” (accomplishments) are things that you have done, good things that you have done because you have worked hard or because of some skill you have. To graduate from college is an accomplishment. It’s a good thing that you have done because of your hard work and skill. The boss also likes to boast about his “acquisitions” (acquisitions).

“Acquisitions” is just a fancy word for things that you have bought and now own, or things that you have obtained – perhaps, someone gave it to you – but usually an acquisition is something that you bought. We usually use this word in talking about businesses buying other businesses. The verb is “to acquire” (acquire). Interestingly, we also use this term in language development, in talking about how people acquire languages – how they get new languages – and we use the noun “acquisition.” But here, we’re talking about acquiring or getting things.

“Every chance he gets” is an expression that means whenever he has the opportunity ¬– at every possible moment. This could refer to something that is good or bad. It could refer simply to how often you like to go running. “I go running every chance I get,” meaning every opportunity I can, I go out and I run, or “I like to eat Italian food every chance I get.” I like to go to an Italian restaurant whenever I have the opportunity. Well, Lucy’s boss “likes to boast about his accomplishments and acquisitions every chance he gets.”

She continues, “Unfortunately, I seem to be his favorite audience.” An “audience” (audience) is someone who is listening to you or watching you. Usually we use the word “audience” to refer to a group of people at a performance. It might be going to a play, or it could also refer to people watching a movie in a movie theater – we would call that the “audience” – or people watching the same television program at home. In this case, it simply means the people who are listening to the boss. Then we hear the boss speak (who sounds a lot like me even though I’m not Lucy’s boss).

The boss says, “You won’t believe what I did over the weekend.” The expression, “You won’t believe” is when you are about to tell someone something that is surprising. “I went mountain climbing and skydiving,” the boss says. “Mountain climbing” (climbing) is when you go up the side of a mountain, usually holding on to the rocks that are part of the mountain in order to pull yourself up. I’ve never been mountain climbing, but I did try rock climbing once, which is similar except you go up the side of a rock, not a mountain.

I tried it for about, oh, 15 minutes. I was with a friend whom I was working with at the university, and her sister – her younger sister, who was very attractive – was visiting her from France, and so we went out to a rock in the middle of the desert, actually out in what we call the “high desert” here in Southern California, up by Yucca Valley. We tried to go rock climbing. The younger sister – now this is before I was married, okay – the younger sister, she put on her equipment and she started climbing up, and I thought, “Well, if she can do it I can do it.”

So I started to climb up the mountain, climb up the rock, but here I thought, “Well, I have to be strong.” I have to, you know, impress the girl, right? Make her think that I’m a strong man who can climb rocks. And I had never gone rock climbing. The point of the story is, I was terrible at it and I didn’t get more than, like, 10 feet and, well, she went back to France and I never got her telephone number. Let’s just put it that way.

Okay, back to the story. The boss went mountain climbing and skydiving. “Skydiving” (skydiving) is when you jump out of a plane and fall down to the earth, but before you actually hit the earth, you open a parachute, which is something that catches the air and prevents you from killing yourself. And no, I never went skydiving. So, Lucy’s boss is boasting about the things he did this weekend.

She says – to herself, of course – “What I wanted to say was, ‘Uh, spare me.’” The expression “spare me” means that you don’t want to hear what the other person has to say. It’s a rude expression. You wouldn’t say it out loud to someone unless you were trying to insult them. We say it when someone is telling us something that we don’t believe or that we don’t want to hear.

Lucy continues, “But what I said instead” – instead of “spare me” – “was, ‘Oh, really? How exciting.’ It doesn’t take much encouragement to get him going.” “To get someone going” means to get another person to do something that they like to do or that you want them to do. It means “to encourage” (encourage) someone, to get them to do something. In this case, it was getting the boss to talk more about himself.

He continues, “And I found time to test drive the new McQ sports car yesterday. I’m thinking of buying one.” “To test drive” a car means to go out to a “car dealer,” a business that sells cars, and drive a car to see if you like it or not. Lucy says, “Do I really look that gullible?” “To be gullible” (gullible) means that you are easy to fool. You are easy to trick. It’s easy to make you believe something that isn’t true.

Why does Lucy think that the boss thinks that she’s gullible? Because, she explains, “I knew that the boss didn’t have that kind of money,” meaning he didn’t have enough money to buy a McQ sports car, which is very expensive, you know. She says, “But I didn’t let it show on my face,” meaning I didn’t do something that would make him realize that I knew that he was lying.” Instead, she simply said, “That’s an impressive car.”

The boss continues, “I have my eye on a luxury vacation condo by the lake.” “To have your eye (eye) on” something means you are thinking about buying something. You are interested in it and you’ve been investigating it. Maybe you’ve been reading the reviews online about it and thinking about what you would do if you bought it. The boss has his eye on a “luxury” – meaning a very expensive, a very nice – “vacation condo” (condo).

“Condo” is short for a “condominium.” It’s basically an apartment in a building, but you own it. Depending on where you live in the United States, the word “apartment” is usually just used for a place that you are renting. In some cities, perhaps, such as New York, you’ll talk about buying an apartment. Here in Los Angeles, I think we would say “buying a condo” even though it might be the exact same thing.

The boss says, “Some lucky girl will get to stay there with me.” Lucy then says to herself, “Now I knew he was blowing smoke.” “To blow smoke” (smoke) is to exaggerate and perhaps to lie – to say something is either bigger or better than it actually is, or simply not to tell the truth. “What could I say,” she says, “I just muttered, ‘Lucky girl,’ and left it at that.” “To mutter” (mutter) means to say something quietly so that the other person doesn’t actually hear you. You say it to yourself even though you say it out loud.

Lucy obviously doesn’t think that any girl that would be with her boss is lucky. So she’s being sarcastic when she says “Lucky girl.” She says she “left it at that.” “To leave it at that” is a phrase we use to mean, “I’m not going to say anything else even though I could.” Even though there’s more I could say, I’m going to stop talking about it right now. At the very end of the story, she wonders why the boss is boasting to her like this.

Then she perhaps realizes. She says, “What was the point of all that? Unless . . .” The “point” (point) is the purpose, the meaning. She’s beginning to realize that perhaps the boss is trying to get her interested in him. Perhaps he is, we would say, “hitting on her.” “To hit on a woman” – or man – means that you are trying to get the person interested in you. You are trying to get that person to date you. You know, by going rock climbing with them.

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

[start of dialogue]

My boss is a complete blowhard. He likes to boast about his accomplishments and acquisitions every chance he gets. Unfortunately, I seem to be his favorite audience.

Boss: You won’t believe what I did over the weekend. I went mountain climbing and skydiving.

What I wanted to say was, “Uh, spare me!” But what I said instead was, “Oh, really? How exciting.” It doesn’t take much encouragement to get him going.

Boss: And I found time to test-drive the new McQ sports car yesterday. I’m thinking of buying one.

Do I really look that gullible? I knew that the boss didn’t have that kind of money, but I didn’t let it show on my face and simply said, “That’s a very impressive car.”

Boss: I have my eye on a luxury vacation condo by the lake. Some lucky girl will get to stay there with me.

Now I knew he was blowing smoke, but what could I say? I just muttered, “Lucky girl,” and left it at that.

What was the point of all that, unless . . .

[end of dialogue]

You should listen to the dialogues of Dr. Lucy Tse every chance you get. If you do, your English will improve very quickly.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thanks 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 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
blowhard – a person who brags too much and likes to talk about why he or she is great

* If that blowhard ever stopped talking about himself long enough to listen to others, he would learn that other people have done interesting things, too.

to boast – to brag; to talk too much about one’s accomplishments, talents, or possessions in a way that makes other people feel uncomfortable

* Carolyn always boasts about her kids, telling everyone that they are champion chess players and concert pianists.

accomplishment – something that one achieves; the good things that one has done with skill and/or through a lot of effort

* The interviewer asked, “What is your greatest accomplishment?”

acquisition – something that one has bought or obtained and now owns

* Jerrod wondered how Christmas become all about acquisitions, with everyone wanting a new smart phone?

every chance (one) gets – whenever one has an opportunity; at every possible moment

* Brad loves skiing and goes to the mountains every chance he gets.

audience – the people who are viewers or listening to something; spectators, especially at a performance

* At the end of the show, the audience applauded politely and then began to leave the auditorium.

mountain climbing – the sport of pulling oneself up the rocky side of a mountain, holding onto small rocks with one’s feet and hands, and possibly using ropes, harnesses, and axe-like tools

* Mountain climbing requires trusting not only the ropes, but also your climbing partners.

skydiving – the sport of jumping out of an airplane and falling for a distance before opening a parachute (a large piece of fabric) to slow one’s fall

* The hardest part of skydiving is getting the courage to jump out of the airplane.

spare me – a rude phrase used to mean that one does not want to hear what another person has to say

* Spare me the details about your foot surgery. I don’t like to hear about blood.

to get (someone) going – to do something that encourages another person to do more of something

* Jenna was pretty shy at first, but once we got her going, she couldn’t stop telling us her stories.

to test-drive – to drive an automobile to determine whether one wants to buy it

* She wasn’t sure whether she would like driving a sports car, but once she test-drove it, she decided to buy it.

gullible – easy to trick or fool

* Who would be gullible enough to be tricked by that email and send bank account information to a total stranger?

to have (one’s) eye on (something) – to think about buying something; to be interested in something and watch or analyze it over time

* Justin has his eye on those sunglasses, and if the store ever puts them on sale, he will definitely buy them.

condo – condominium; a building with multiple housing units that are owned individually

* When they retire, they will sell their house and buy a condo downtown.

to blow smoke – to exaggerate and lie, saying that something is bigger or better than it actually is

* Is Ashish really a millionaire, or is he just blowing smoke?

to mutter – to say something quietly in an unclear way so that other people cannot understand what one is saying

* We were horrified when we heard one of the audience members mutter, “Worst presentation ever” as we left the room.

to leave it at that – to end a discussion by not saying anything else, even though one probably would like to add more

* I think it’s a terrible idea. Let’s just leave it at that.

point – purpose; intention; meaning

* We could call to complain, but what would be the point? They’ll never change their policy.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does the boss mean when he says, “I have my eye on a luxury vacation condo”?
a) He is selling a condo.
b) He is thinking of building a condo.
c) He is considering buying a condo.

2. Why does she think he is blowing smoke?
a) Because he is addicted to cigarettes.
b) Because he is was once trapped in a fire.
c) Because he talks about things that couldn’t possibly be true.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to get (someone) going

The phrase “to get (someone) going,” in this podcast, means to do something that encourages another person to do more of something: “At first, Wei was too shy to sing karaoke, but once we got her going, she had a great time.” The phrase “to get going” means to leave: “This has been fun, but I’d better get going. I have to get up early tomorrow morning.” The phrase “while the going’s good” is used to talk about doing something before it becomes difficult or impossible: “Housing prices are going to rise soon. We should buy our first house while the going’s good.” Finally, the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going” means that strong people persevere (succeed through effort and determination) in difficult situations: “Sales have been slow this year, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

point

In this podcast, the word “point” means purpose, intention, or meaning: “The whole point of arriving early is to get a good seat at the front of the theater.” A “turning point” is the point at which something changes, especially the point at which something becomes more favorable: “That battle was the turning point in the war.” A “vantage point” is a place from which one can see clearly, or one’s perspective or point of view: “From our vantage point at the top of the mountain, we could see most of the city.” Finally, a “rallying point” is an idea or concept that motivates many people and encourages them to work together toward some change: “Police brutality became a rallying point for many rights groups in the city.”

Culture Note
The Dozens

“The Dozens” is an informal word game that is most popular among young African Americans, especially young men. In this game, two people take turns “insulting” (offending) each other, saying mean but “clever” (humorous and creative) things about each other or their family members, often their mother. The comments are most often “aimed at” (targeting) “disparaging” (criticizing the value of something) the other person’s intelligence, appearance, financial situation, social status, or “competency” (ability to do something). Sometimes the insults are sexual, and sometimes the insults “rhyme” (have words that end in the same sound, like a poem).

The best known versions insult the participants’ mother, saying things like, “Yo mama so stupid/fat/ugly, she…” (Your mother is so stupid/fat/ugly that she…) For example, someone might say, “Yo momma so stupid she called me, then asked for my phone number,” or, “Yo mama so fat that I ran out of gas trying to drive around her!”

There are several “theories” (explanations; untested ideas about why something is the way it is) about why this game “persists” (continues to exist) among some African Americans. Some people “trace its roots” (finds its origins) in slavery, when African Americans were “outraged” (extremely angry) with white people, but could not safely express that anger. So instead, they turned to each other, “venting” (getting rid of negative emotions) on their “peers” (people in the same role or situation). Other people say that the game is valuable because it teaches young black men to control their “emotions” (feelings) when they hear insults. The game teaches them to respond with “wit” (intelligence and humor) rather than anger and violence.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c