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Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Best Things in Life Are Free



GET READY:

1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. Do you think the second speaker is right? Can you be happy without money?

READ THIS:

James sees his student, boy named Charles, just after graduation.

James: Congratulations, Chuck! What's next?
Charles: I don't know exactly. But one thing's for sure: I'm gonna be rich!
James: That's it? That's your whole life plan?
Charles: Why not?
James: Well, haven't you heard? "The best things in life are free."
Charles: Like what?
James: Love? A beautiful sunset? Uhh, a baby's smile? A…
Charles: Blah blah blah. I'll need money to find a wife who loves me, and get to a resort where I can see a sunset. And kids? Sheesh! Mega-expensive!
James: Wow, you've really thought this out. Well, I hope your dreams come true!
Charles: Thanks, James. See ya around.
James: Yeah, keep in touch.

NOTES:

In today's economic climate, we sometimes lose sight of the idea that "Money isn't everything." We're often told it "can't buy love." And one old saying tells us: "It can buy a bed, but not sleep; it can buy a clock, but not time; it can buy a book, but not knowledge" and so on. However, lots of people these days have other ideas.

More notes:
  • Chuck: Like "Charlie," this is a nickname for Charles.
  • What's next?: James is asking Charles his plans for the near future; it's like saying, "What's the next step in your life?"
  • That's it?: James is shocked that Charles has only one goal: money. Not "happiness," or "helping others," or "raising a family," but just to "be rich."
  • Why not?: Charles challenges James's disbelief. "Why not?" is a way to ask what's wrong with his plan.
  • Blah blah blah: Charles interrupts James and indicates that James's words are meaningless. This would be very rude in most cases, but can be done with humor in the right circumstances.
  • Sheesh!: An expression of surprise or (as in this case) annoyance.
  • Mega-expensive: Properly, "mega" is a prefix that means "large," sometimes a million (or thereabouts). "Megabyte," for instance, means "(about) one million bytes" (actually 1,048,576). So we sometimes use it in slang terms to magnify something. "Mega-expensive" would just mean "very expensive."
  • See ya around: Properly "See you around," a casual way to say "goodbye."
  • keep in touch: Although it's often said, this is especially appropriate when someone is, say, leaving a company or, as here, leaving school. Since James and Charles won't be seeing each other at school anymore, they'll have to make an effort to keep contact with each other.

PRACTICE:

Use the above terms in one of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. A: Want to see a film? B: __________? I love a good movie.
2. I can't afford to buy a Mercedes; they're __________.
3. It was nice seeing you. Please __________ and maybe we can meet again soon.
4. You asked me to do four things, and I've finished two of them. __________?
5. __________! Can you believe that guy? He thinks he's so wonderful!
6. You're only paying me $10 for this? __________? I expected more!
7. I have to go now. __________!
8. A: I don't feel like working today. B: What else is new? __________!

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Do you think Charles's plan (to get rich) is a good one? Why or why not?
2. James says "The best things in life are free." Agree or disagree? If you agree, what are some of those "best things"? If you disagree, what's better than the free things?
3. What are YOUR "dreams"?

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:

1. Why not; 2. mega-expensive; 3. keep in touch; 4. What's next; 5. Sheesh; 6. That's it; 7. See ya around; 8. blah blah blah

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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