Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories
Today I will tell about expressions using numbers. Let us start with the number one. Numbers can be tricky. On the one hand, they are simply numbers. On the other hand, they have meanings. "I for one" use these expressions a lot.
Many people consider themselves number one -- the most important person. They are always "looking out for number one" and "taking care of number one." It is as if they are "the one and only" person on Earth. Some people however, are not so self-centered. My brother is such a person. It is true -- no joke. I am not trying to "pull a fast one" on you.
First, you have to understand that my brother is "one in a million." He is such a nice person. All his friends like him. They consider him "one of the boys." Recently, my brother had a bad day at the office. It was just "one of those days." Nothing went right. So he stopped at a local bar -- a drinking place -- after leaving work. My brother planned to have a glass of beer with his friends -- "a quick one" -- before he went home. But a quick one turned into one or two, and soon those became "one too many."
As my brother was leaving, he ordered a last drink -- "one for the road." His friends became concerned. "One by one," they asked him if he was able to drive home safely. Now, my brother is a wise and calm person. He is "at one with himself." He recognizes when he has had too much alcohol to drink. So he accepted an offer for a ride home from a female friend.
At one time in the past, my brother had been in love with this woman. She is a great person -- kind, thoughtful and intelligent -- all good qualities "rolled up into one." But sadly their relationship did not work. He always used to say "One of these days, I am going to marry this girl." But that never happened.
"For one thing," she did not love him as much as he loved her. It was just "one of those things." The situation was regrettable and my brother had to accept it. But even now, he considers her "the one that got away."
However, they are still friends. And because my brother had been kind to her, she felt that "one good turn deserves another." He was good to her and she wanted to help him in return. So she drove him home.
If my brother had driven home from the bar that night, his "number would have been up" -- something bad would have happened. Thankfully he made it home safely. And, he and the woman are "back to square one" -- they are back to where they started, being friends.
This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Jill Moss.
I’m Faith Lapidus.