Very manly family

Terms: my guy / my dude / bro / bruh / son

Rip. Scribble. Check. Pass.

These were normal work days for Charles. His life was not any more exciting than a stone’s on an average day. At work, it was at least half of the usual. Paintings had more fun hanging on white walls than Charles did at work. Old sneakers had more fun being trodden through the mud on a cold day than Charles did at work. Even the little fruit flies taunted him as they buzzed after each other in the dead-air room; a financial office at a small community college waiting to be demolished and replaced by new facilities.

Yes, I understand … Okay … But what would you like to do, Sir?

I just really want to get a loan, man. I was hoping you’d help me out with it.

A fellow student, small and muscular, was asking Charles about his options for paying for his upcoming classes. The student really needed a break, but the school’s policy was strict. The situation was leaving him quite irritated.

Charles told him, —I can’t give you a loan this semester because you still owe money from your past classes.

Come on, my guy. Are you for real? I really can’t have just one little loan this time? Man, what the hell?

Really, Sir, I cannot …

You sure? ‘Cus I bet you can’t even read them pages right.

The student was referring to Charles’s accent, assuming he couldn’t read since his English wasn’t totally natural.

Hey, bro, you need to back up. We’re all in line here. Just let the man do his job.

His job—!

But before the small angry student could finish, another larger student calmly grabbed his backpack and shoved him out of the line. The smaller student made a quick gesture to scare the bigger student, but he noticed he would enter into a fight he couldn’t win. He walked away after sucking his teeth and hit the bare office wall hard, one time.

Thanks for getting him out of here, Charles told the big man.

Hey, my grandparents were immigrants. I couldn’t let him disrespect you like that.

Charles took advantage of their conversation to ask a question.

He was pretty mad, but I noticed he called me his “guy.” Is that a bad thing? Because it sounds like he wants me to be his man.

This comment made everybody in the sweaty office laugh; one girl in the back laughed a little too hard.

That was funny, I’m sorry. No, he wasn’t asking you to be “his guy.” It’s just an expression. It’s how you might refer to someone you’re speaking to. Hey, my guyMy dude is another good one that’s used the same. There are some other more derogatory ones, but these two are good to use with anybody.

But he also called me bro, like his brother. Is that right?

The big student scratched his chin hairs for a minute, then said;

Oh. Well, bro is short for “brother,” but it’s the same as with “my guy.” You can use it with any man, doesn’t have to be your real brother. Some people, like me, put more of an “uhhhh” sound to it. Like, bruh. “What’s up, bruh? Wanna buy me a Coke?”

Charles smiled.

I get it now.

Yo, are we still in the classroom? I ain’t got all day, son.

Another student was being impatient and yelled out from his point in line. His comment made the big man turn his head and look at Charles who was staring at him, again, confused.

And that’s another one! Son. And no, he’s not calling you his actual son …

Sure ain’t! the loud-mouthed student replied again.

Charles had a jump on the meaning, though.

Son. It’s the same as calling me “guy” or “bro.” Or “bruh,” even. They’re all the same. Cool alternatives to “man.”

The big guy tapped Charles on the shoulder happily.

You got it! So, uh, bruh, can you help me with a payment plan for the next two semesters?

Then the loud mouth, —Yeah, me too, my dude!

Charles smiled at the fact that even within that hot, boring, smelly box of an office, he could turn his gruesome job into an exciting real-world English lesson. In addition, he was now able to understand all this action coming at him at once. He ruffled some papers and answered his schoolmates;

Sure! One financial plan coming up, bro.

  • Calling men “my guy,” “bro,” and “son” is very informal, and we usually use it with people of a similar or lesser age to us or with friends, not in formal situations! Do you think you could use these words correctly with a friend of yours? Tell me what you think!

*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how different Americans might express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference.

Dead talk close ahead

Terms: dead (serious, wrong, ahead, -ass) / fisho / fasho

You’re so round … and floppy. How’d your legs get so slippery? What a strange creature! Silly you.

Charles’s turtle looked up at him with blank admiration. The apartment walls surrounded them both as the little animal stared fixedly at its owner.

—You know, I love to talk with you when I’m alone. It’s good to vent, isn’t it? It helps me to get my thoughts all together in one place. You’re just a sweet little— ah!

The reptile almost fell to the floor.

Crap! I almost dropped you, __

Charles wanted to blurt out a name, but he remembered.

—Ha, that’s right. Sometimes I wonder if I should give you a name. But, names are for people, right? You’re fine as the little turtle you are.

BUM, BUM, BUM, from the door.

The turtle flew in fright out of Charles’s hands and flopped on the floor for a bit. As Charles went to grab the door, the nameless turtle was able to flip onto its legs before sliding itself safely under the bed.

—Who is it? Charles wondered.

He knew it was better to check the door before opening it. It could have been a school girl selling cookies; it could have been a mobster with a gun pointed at his nose. It happened to be something between the two extremes.

Yo, man, I told you to stop with these notices all over my door.

Charles responded to the man outside his doorway, confused.

The man persisted, though; —Like, dead-ass, if you’re not gonna quit it with those posts on my door, we’re gonna have some problems, I’m- I’m dead serious.

—Oh, man. I’m sorry, sir, but I don’t have anything to do with that. Did you try asking the landlord?

—Wait, you’re not the landlord?

Charles shook his head, No.

—Then who are you?

—I’m Charles. I moved here from out of town. Well, out of the country.

The man then laughed at his own mistake.

—Oh, you the foreigner. My bad, man! I thought this was the landlord’s suite for some reason. Let me … Oh! He’s in two-fifty. This is two-O-five. That was embarrassing …

—No, it’s cool. Forget it. Hey, tell me something. What did you mean by “dead serious?” Were you wishing for me to die?

—Ah, no way, guy. I just wanted you to know I was super serious. When we say dead with something, it means it’s “straightforward, serious, just one way.” If I say, “You’re dead wrong,” that means you are “very wrong,” no question about it. Or if you’re asking directions, and I tell you to keep going dead ahead, that means “straight ahead of you.” Same if something is dead in front of you, or dead in your face. It’s not really dead. It just means that it is “directly ahead of you,” without a doubt. Dead-ass is similar, but you’re saying that something is true or serious.

—So, if I say, “I’m going to buy some dead-ass new shoes,” that means I really am going to do it?

—Well, you’d say it the other way: “I’m gonna buy me some new shoes, dead-ass.”

Got it!

They could hear a rustling noise from under Charles’s bed.

—Oh, I forgot about my turtle. I have to save him … or her.

Fasho. I gotta go find this crazy landlord of ours anyway.

—Fa-what? What did you say? Charles asked him.

—You ain’t ever heard of “fasho?” The same as “for sure.” It’s just a confirmation. Or, I always use it to tell people “goodbye,” like a closing statement. Like just now, you said you had to go do something, so I said, “Fasho. I gotta go too.” Sometimes I say, “Fisho,” but it’s the same thing. It means our conversation is about to be through.

Fasho. Well, I’ll see you around here. Good luck with those posts all over your door. Now, I just have to find my little turtle.

Charles’s neighbor pointed down to the floor at a dark object moving around clumsily.

—Isn’t that him? Or her, I mean?

Charles looked.

—Yeah! There he is. He was dead in front of me this whole time.


*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how different Americans might express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference.

A stoning fight

Terms: get light / get high / get stoned / get wasted / get faded / get baked / fade

*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how different Americans might express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference.

Skies were blue with those thin strips of white like ripped white pillow feathers painted all around. The birds sang and the sun burned a little on the arms. It was a perfect day to sit in a park — or so thought Charles. In fact, it was a great day for the park for another reason. The sun and birds are fine and all, but what Charles really was looking for was music.

He had recently went to a concert with some work buddies of his and he loved it! Now, Charles was itching for more of the live music experience. He wanted to feel the beat vibrate inside his ribs. He wanted to enjoy the energy of people jumping and singing all around him. He wanted to smell the sweat of the singers as they yelled their lyrics at the crowd. Charles would have never guessed it, be he was radically in love with live concerts. And to his luck, there would be one today at the park.

After walking for some time, he finally found where the stage was. Charles found a quiet, clean spot to lay his coat down in the grass and kicked his shoes off. He stretched his feet, closed his eyes, and let the sun sizzle his arms just a little bit. He was nearly falling asleep when the mechanical screech of a microphone pulled his attention back to life. There was a middle-aged lady on stage tapping on the mic as if to test it.

Hello all, she said, greeting the crowd of park-goers. —I hope you are having a wonderful Sunday. My sponsors and I are here to get the show started off tonight. How about that? Are you all excited?

The people around the stage sitting in the grass all yelled and cheered in approval. They were, in fact, all excited. The sun was starting to go away, and the mood was getting set.

Excellent! Well, we’ve got a great show planned for you all tonight. A$AP Rocky and Tyga are here.

Yo, where they at? some guy yelled out impatiently.

A$AP? Aw man. I thought this week was Twenty One Pilots. You’re kidding me, right? another guy moaned.

Yes, the lady from before said, We will get on with the show in just a minute. Firsthand, I want to talk about the “big M.” Mari-what?

Oh, no! We don’t wanna hear it, lady! someone else yelled.

Charles was confused and looked around for someone to help him understand.

What a buzzkill, right? They always bring these old-timers trying to keep us from getting stoned in public. It’s a waste of time. That’s why I stopped coming to public concerts.

It was a young woman about the same age as Charles.

What do you mean? They throw stones at people in public? he replied.

Oh, God no! Haha, ain’t you ever heard of someone getting stoned? Like, high?

Charles shook his head to say No.

Well, to tell you what it means, it’s what happens when you smoke weed. You know, cannabis. Some people say they get faded or get baked. It’s all the same thing.

A guy sitting next to the lady had been listening and made a sound that meant he agreed.

He then told Charles, —Yeah, sometimes we say we get wasted or we get light. Wasted’s a little more for drinking, though. Most people just say high, when in doubt.

Another lady nearby complained, —Don’t teach him that stuff! Poor guy. He was so innocent until you told him all that junk.

The lady next to Charles turned to the complainer and told her, —Shut up, yo. Or do you want to fade?

She got quiet and turned away. The lady next to Charles laughed and bumped her friend to laugh together.

She told Charles, —Don’t worry, I wasn’t really gonna fade. It was just a threat.

Charles asked her, —A fade is a hair style, right? Or were you talking about smoking?

She said “No” and, —By fade, I mean … and she moved her arms around like she was punching someone invisible. —I wasn’t gonna fight her, you know?

Fade can mean fight, then? Charles asked.

Yeah. And if you catch a fade, you end up fighting someone. Or worse, they try to fight you.

Sounds like a heavy hand tapping on the microphone bumbled from the stage once more.

And without further ado, here is your concert! the woman on stage announced. And several people sitting in the grass simultaneously sighed Finally!

Charles looked over and whispered at the pair he’d been talking to.

I’m glad she stopped telling us not to get high, or she was gonna catch a fade from somebody in this crowd.

The three laughed at his comment and invited him to stand up and dance. The sun had gone down, the big lights were turned on. Everyone started to vibrate as the first pounding beats rolled out from the massive speakers.

Bright light pop show

Terms: popping / show out / turn out / turn up / lit / light up

*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how different Americans might express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference.

Squeaky wheels filled the high walls of the theater with the sound of rubber rolling on the hardwood. The stage lights sprayed all across the room leaving little shadows over the shoulders of the chairs. In front of it all was Charles, front and center on the big stage.

Well, he wasn’t performing, you can bet; he was putting up props, vacuuming the giant curtains, mopping and polishing the smooth stage.

If I mop this up quickly, he thought, I can lay out the carpets for the set design.

In the back of the theater hall were two other young employees watching Charles’s every move.

Look at him go! one said.

I wonder why he likes stage design so much. Doesn’t it seem weird to like stage design so much? asked the other.

It pays the bills. I mean, if I were from another country like he is, I’d be happy to set up stages for some extra bucks.

Hey you guys! What do you think?

Charles yelled out across the hall to the two nosey workers on break. They put up two big thumbs of approval, nodding their heads to say it was good.

Good job! The stage is popping, man. You sure like to show out on your designs.

Charles waved at them to say “Thanks.” He sat down on the edge of the stage and wiped his forehead of dusty sweat.

—But what do you mean by show out? I’m not showing anything. Or popping anything.

The guy who had made the confusing comment sat down in the closest chair to him in the back row. He then explained;

I know you didn’t break anything. I was saying your stage designs are popping. If anything is popping, it means it’s “really cool, exciting, fun,” and whatnot. Kinda like when you show out, which means “to do really well at something,” almost like show off. They’re pretty much the same.

Charles tilted his head and said, —So, if I’m popping or showing out, I’m doing really good at something. So, basically, you gave me a compliment?

Yeah, bro! I’m always impressed by your designs and how much work you put into all this stage stuff. You always turn out when it comes to the theater. And before you ask, turn out can mean the same as “show out.” Or you can say turn out to tell “how something finished.” Your designs always turn out nicely. Then he laughed. Viki here admires your hard work too, don’t’cha?

He turned around and nodded at his co-worker, Viki, so that she would say something nice. She sighed as if she were annoyed by the conversation, then she went to sit next to the other employee.

Oh, yeah. I love the theater. It’s great to clean gum off of the bottom of people’s seats twice a week.

Quit it with the sarcasm, Viks! Look on the bright side. We have that concert we’re going to tonight.

Viki responded, —Whoop! Chris … I’m so glad you said it. We about to turn up out there. The whole block is gonna be lit, for real.

What is she talking about? Charles yelled out again from across the theater.

Nothing, Charles! Just this lit party we ’bout to go to tonight.

Oh, I like parties when they turn up a bunch of lights! It’s so fun.

Viki and Chris laughed while hitting each other.

Chris turned to her and said, —It’s your turn to explain, bro.

Then Viki said, —I mean, turn up just means we’re gonna “have lots of fun.” In fact, we’re gonna show out with how much fun we’re gonna have. And lit has nothing to do with light. It means that the concert is gonna “be really fun, like a big party.” You know, the usual partying vocab.

Chris added, —Yeah, but to light something up can also be “to hit it a bunch of times.” Like in a fight, someone can get lit up by punches. Hopefully no one gets lit up tonight at this concert.

You said that right, Viki replied, and then, —You wanna come with us? It’s just a hip hop concert.

Chris gasped in shock.

What? Did you just invite someone to a concert? Victoria, that is so unlike you!

Shut up, fool. We gotta get going now ’cause the venue is gonna fill up quick. What do you say, Charles? You coming?

Charles hesitated, then jolted out a quick, —Yeah! Let’s go turn up!

They all laughed, and Chris said, —That’s a boy! Man, it’s about to be the most popping night you’ve had all year.

Charles then remembered something.

I’m just gonna finish cleaning the stage real quick. You guys go ahead.

They nodded at him and left out of the theater for the night. Charles opened up the paint buckets and started to experiment with some brushes.

Just a few strokes before I go.