Lesson 14. Off the Beaten Track
Jeff: Simon!Madeline!Welcome! It’s great to see you guys!
Madeline: Hi, Jeff. Thanks for inviting us. And sorry we’re a bit late. Simon decided to take the scenic route.
Simon: Well, a captain is only as good as his navigator.
Jeff: Uh-oh. Did I not give you decent directions? I know it’s hard to find this place. It’s a little bit off the beaten track.
Madeline: Your directions were perfect, Jeff.We just got a little mixed-up coming off the interstate, and of course it will be a cold day in hell before Simon here stops and asks for directions, even in the middle of nowhere.
Simon: Yeah, but I told you I could wing it and findmyway here.
Jeff: And here you both are.Well, come on in and shake off the dust. You can freshen up, and I’ll whip up some of my famous guacamole and a drink or two.We can relax on the porch and catch up as the sun goes down.
Madeline: Ah, a fiesta in the country! I can’t wait. I can feel myself unwinding already.
Simon: I’ll say.Now there’s a way to end a long drive . . .
(A bit later . . . )
Simon: Ah,what a great way to kick off our weekend in the country.
Madeline: Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to some R and R for a long time. I’ve really needed to recharge the batteries.
Jeff: Well, I’mglad to be able to offer you a weekend getaway for a break from the rat race. That’s why I love being out here somuch.
Simon: So, how is the big change working out for you? Have you felt much culture shockmoving out to the sticks like this?
Jeff: No, not at all . . . I grew up in the country, so in a way, this feelsmore like home tome than the city. In fact, sometimes I felt like a fish out of water in the city.Of course, there are things Imiss, but all in all I’mreally happy to be out here in the boondocks.
Madeline: So, you’re here full time now, then?
Jeff: Well, I still have a little place in the city, but this is where I hang my hat for now.
Simon: And how’s the writing coming along?
Jeff: It’s great . . . now. At first I was really afraid that it wasn’t going to pan out, that I’d really made a terrible mistake leaving my job and moving here to write. I had a bad case of writer’s block. But then I snapped out of it, and I’ve actually just finished my manuscript.
Madeline: Hey, congratulations! Let’s have a toast to that!
Simon: Yeah, cheers!
Madeline: And what about the locals? Are youmeeting nice people here?
Jeff: Oh, sure.When I bought the place, I didn’t know anyone, of course. I think I stuck out like a sore thumb, too, because everyone knows everyone around here.
People always seemed to be sizingme up, but giving me the cold shoulder at the same time.
Simon: And it must have been rough starting from square one when it came to a social life, too.
Jeff: Yeah, that was not easy.No one reached out tome, except to make small talk.
Madeline: So, how did you break the ice? If I know you, you put on a big smile and had new friends lined up at your door in no time.
Jeff: Actually, I had a secret weapon.
Simon: A secret weapon?What’s that?
Jeff: You’re eating it.
Madeline: The guacamole?
Jeff: Hey, I told you it was famous. Around here, at least.
Simon: So, you just started handing complete strangers bowls of guacamole? Gee, you’d think that would raise a few eyebrows . . .
Jeff: No, of course not. There was actually a good oldfashioned town picnic, so I brought asmuch of the stuff as I couldmake. As soon as people started tasting it, I had all sorts of welcomes and invitations to dinner!
Madeline: So it’s true that the fastest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach.
Simon: And speaking of which . . . when’s dinner?
Jeff: Whenever we want.We’re not on the clock here.
Madeline: Great, because that sunset is gorgeous. I could sit here all weekend.No lights, no sirens, no honking horns . . . I could really get used to this.
Simon: Yup, this is the life!
1. To take the scenic route. Jokingly, to get lost and take a long time to reach a destination.
2. Off the beaten track. Remote, faraway, hard to get to, and not very well known.Notice that you can also say “off the beaten path.”
3. Mixed-up. Confused.
4. It will be a cold day in hell before something happens. It is highly unlikely or improbable that something will happen.
5. The middle of nowhere. A very remote place, especially some place wild and far away from people or towns.
6. To wing it. To do something without following instructions or directions. To improvise.
7. To shake off the dust. To rest and compose yourself after a long trip, as if you had been walking for a long time and were covered in dust from the road.
8. To freshen up. To wash up and relax. To tidy your appearance and overall condition after something tiring.
9. To whip up. To prepare something, especially food, in a fast and improvised way.
10. To catch up. To talk and share recent news after not having seen someone in a while.
11. To unwind. To relax and free yourself fromstress.
12. To kick off. To begin something.
13. R and R. Rest and Relaxation.
14. To recharge the batteries. To rest and regain physical and psychological strength.
15. A weekend getaway. A place to go to for the weekend where you can rest and relax.
16. The rat race. The total system of life centered around working hard—commuting, struggling to be successful and get ahead,dealing with the stresses of life,worrying about bills, etc.
17. Culture shock. Reaction to a very significant change in way of life.
18. The sticks. The country. A rural area.
19. A fish out of water.Out of place, not in your natural environment.
20. The boondocks. The country, the rural areas far away from cities or big towns.Note that this expression is often shortened to “the boonies.”
21. A place to hang your hat. A place to call home, a place to feel at home.
22. To pan out. To be successful, to work out well.
23. To snap out of it. To recover after a state of confusion, sadness, or psychological fatigue.
24. The locals. The people who live in a certain place. The local people.
25. To stick out like a sore thumb. To be very visible or obvious, to draw attention to yourself because you are different in some
26. To size someone up. To examine or evaluate someone, especially visually.
27. To give someone the cold shoulder. To fail to be warmand welcoming to someone, to ignore someone, especially on purpose.
28. To start from square one. To start again, to start a process from the very beginning.
29. To reach out. To extend a welcome to a person, to put forth an effort to communicate with someone.
30. To make small talk. To make insignificant conversation with someone, especially only to be polite.
31. To break the ice. To put an end to a time of silence or lack of communication. To initiate a conversation or friendliness with someone.
32. Lined up at your door. Eager and in large numbers.
33. To raise eyebrows. To bring attention to yourself, to cause people to notice you as someone different or unconventional.Notice that this expression is similar to “stick out like a sore thumb,” but there’s a hint of a moral judgment with “raise eyebrows.”
34. Good old-fashioned. Traditional.
35. On the clock.On a strict schedule, especially on working time.
Source: Easy American Idioms