I. Pre-Listening Exercises [Top]

Discuss the kinds of mishaps or accidents that can occur around the house that might home repairs or house cleaning. Use the following verbs and nouns or others you know to make sentences. Then write some of the ideas on the board.

VERBS: burn, break, cut, damage, fall, ruin, scratch, slip, spill, tear
NOUNS: bathtub, carpet, chair, door, dinner, floor, ladder, stairs, stove, wall


  • He ruined the carpet when he started a fire in the living room.
  • Tony broke the kitchen window.

HELPFUL TIP: Coming with a family preparedness plan now can help in case of an emergency such as a fire, earthquake, or flood. Practice what to do on a regular basis.

II. Listening Exercises [Top]

First, listen to the conversation by pressing the “Play Audio” button, and answer the questions. Press the “Final Score” button to check your quiz.

1. Where is Henry going this evening to pick up his wife?

A. the train station

B. the bus station

C. the airport
2. What was Henry doing Friday night when his problems started?

A. He was watching a game on TV with some pals.

B. He was playing basketball with a few of his friends.

C. He was having a barbeque with a couple of buddies.

3. The vase broke when one of Henry’s friends:

A. hit it with a ball.

B. accidently dropped it.

C. bumped into it with his arm.

4. How did the manuscript of the book become totally ruined?

A. It burned up in a fire.

B. Hot water damaged the entire copy.

C. Someone mistakenly threw it into the trash.

5. From the tone of the conversation, what sort of reaction does Henry expect from his wife about his misfortunes?

A. disappointment

B. anger

C. contentment

Score =

Correct answers:

Sam: Hey, Henry, how’s everything going, and what’s with the flowers?

Henry: They’re for my wife.

Sam: Oh, a wedding anniversary or something?

Henry: To tell the truth, it couldn’t be worse. [Oh]. You see, I have to pick my wife up from the airport this evening, but while she was gone, there were a few minor mishaps.

Sam: Oh really? What happened?

Henry: Well, I had some of the guys over Friday night to watch a basketball game on TV, but one of them got all excited, and started horsing around, waving his arms, and he accidently knocked over my wife’s 250-year old Chinese porcelain vase given to her [Oh no!], given to her by her grandmother, and broke it beyond repair.

Sam: Man, have you tried . . .

Henry: . . . super glue? Yeap, but she would be able to tell in a second I was trying to pull something over her eyes.

Sam: Oh, wow. You’re in hot water now.

Henry: If it had only been that.

Sam: Oh, there’s more?

Henry: Yeah, you see, the water from the vase spilled all over the manuscript of a book my wife has been writing for the past two years. It blurred the ink over many of the pages. [Oh no.] And so one of the guys had the bright idea of drying the pages by the fire while we watched, uh, the rest game, but a spark from the fire must have blown out and burned the manuscript to a crisp.

Sam: But what about an electronic file copy? Had one, didn’t she?

Henry: Well, actually, her computer crashed the day before while I was playing some computer games, and I haven’t been able to get it to work since.

Sam: Man, are you in trouble now. [I know.] You’re going to have a hard time digging yourself out of this one. [Yeah.] Ah, so I get it now. You’re buying the flowers for her as a part of some kind of peace offering, right?

Henry: No, not at all. They’re for my funeral.

Sam: [laughter]

Key Vocabulary [Top]
  • mishaps (noun): accidents
    – There were a few unfortunate mishaps while we were on vacation.
  • horsing around (phrasal verb): playing around or wasting time
    – Hey! Stop horsing around and get to work.
  • to pull something over someone’s eyes (idiom): to deceive or hide the truth
    – Don’t even try pulling something over my eyes. I’ll be watching you very carefully.
  • be in hot water (idiom): be in bad trouble
    – Oh no, you broke the window! You’re going to be in hot water when mom gets back from the store.
  • digging yourself out of something (idiom): trying to explain or justify the causes of a situation
    – There’s no way you’re going to be able to dig yourself out of this one. It was your fault, so just admit it.
III. Post-Listening Exercises [Top]

Encountering problems and having accidents is a part of life. With a partner, one of you play the role of Henry, and the other person, the part of his wife. Pretend that the wife has just arrived at the airport and asks her husband how things went while she was gone. Use the following model to get you started. Add your own ideas and have fun.

Henry’s Wife: Hi Honey. Good to see you and thanks for coming to get me.There are so many things I want to tell you about my trip.Henry: Same here.

Henry’s Wife: Oh, anything out of the ordinary?

Henry: That’s what we need to talk about. You see _____________________________________.

Henry’s Wife: What? _____________________________.

Henry: _____________________________________.

Henry’s Wife: _____________________________.