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Hello! Welcome to the VOA Learning English program, Words and Their Stories, where every word has a story.
And Happy New Year!
The start of a new year is a time of reflection, or deep thinking. Many people plan for the future and, at the same time, feel nostalgic for the past. In other words, they think about the past in a dreamy way – a little happy and a little sad.
One popular New Year’s song is especially nostalgic.
Dan Fogelberg was a popular U.S. singer-songwriter during the 1970s. His song “Same Old Lang Syne” is set around the New Year.
When two former lovers – high school sweethearts, perhaps? – meet in a grocery store, they talk about old times and wonder what might have been.
“Lang syne” means at a distant time in the past.
In the first part of the song, Fogleberg writes, “I stole behind her in the frozen foods, and I touched her on the sleeve.”
"Met my old lover in the grocery store,the snow was falling, Christmas Eve,I stole behind her in the frozen foods,and I touched her on the sleeve."
Fogelberg did not actually steal anything from the store. Stealing would get him arrested. And that would make the song very different.
No, in this case, “to steal” means to do something secretly. You can steal a glance at your secret love from across a crowded room. If someone steals a kiss from you, they sneak up and surprise you with a kiss. If someone steals your heart, they cause you to fall deeply in love with them. And if two lovers steal away into the night, they escape secretly to be together.
Who knew stealing could be so romantic!
Moving on to the next selection from the song, we find two common expressions.
"We took her groceries to the checkout stand,the food was totaled up and bagged, we stood there lost in our embarrassment,as the conversation dragged"
Let’s talk about “to be lost in embarrassment.”
If you lose yourself in something, an event or emotion takes over your mind and body. For example, I love getting lost in a good book. Lovers get lost in each others' eyes. You can also lose yourself in your work and forget to see family and friends.
Next, what happens when a conversation drags? It does not move smoothly. If two people are embarrassed, their conversation can be slow and awkward. You can also say a book or movie drags if the story lines move too slowly.
Conversations with a former lover can be embarrassing. It can be even more embarrassing if you are still attracted to that person.
Later in the song, Fogelberg writes about his former lover’s appearance. He says the “years had been a friend to her, and that her eyes were still as blue.”
“I said the years had been a friend to her，and that her eyes were still as blue,but in those eyes I wasn't sure if I saw doubt or gratitude...”
When you say the years had been a friend to someone, you are saying that they look younger than their age. You can also say that the years have been kind to someone. It is a nice thing to say.
But you can also change this expression around and say the years have not been kind to someone, meaning they look older than they really are.
And that brings us to the end of this Words and Their Stories.
Steal away by yourself to practice these expressions. Perfecting them will ensure your English conversations won’t drag. Or perhaps just lose yourself in this song!
I’m Anna Matteo, wishing everyone a happy New Year!
Dan Fogelberg是美国20世纪70年代一名很受欢迎的创作歌手。他的《情景依旧》（Same Old Lang Syne）就是以新年为背景创作的。
事情并不是这样，这里所说的“ to steal”意为秘密做某事。你可以在拥挤的房间偷偷看一眼自己的密恋。“Steal a kiss”意为某人偷偷走近吻了你，让你大惊不已。如果是某人 “steal your heart”，意思是他俘获了你的心，让你爱上他。如果说恋人“steal away into the night”，意思为这对恋人悄悄偷溜共度时光。
下面我们来谈一下"to be lost in embarrassment"（陷入尴尬)。
“Lose yourself in something”意为某事或者某种情绪占据了你的内心和身体。比如，我可能会沉迷于一本好书。恋人们迷失在对方的眼神中。此外，你还可能会沉迷于自己的工作，而忘了家人和朋友。
如果说“the years had been a friend to someone”，意思为某人看起来比实际年龄年轻（岁月没有在她脸上留下痕迹）。此外还可以用“the years have been kind to someone”表达这个意思。这么说真的很好。
但你还可以换种表达，即“years have not been kind to someone”，意思为某人比实际看起来要老。（岁月不饶人啊）