You are a good boy [ironic use?]

Landaris

Member
Spanish
Today has been the second time that somebody says this sentence to me: "You are a good boy". Of course, I understand the literal meaning of the sentence, but the women that said that to me were being ironical and I'm not sure that I get the irony. In both cases it was used in a sexual context.

This last time the context was this: I have a t-shirt with a Spanish sentence written on it (I'm Spanish). This woman asked me to translate the sentence and I told her this: In Spain there are many women that like to flirt with men in pubs and night clubs even though they are not interested in them. The sentence in my t-shirt says "if you are one of these women, don't make me waste my time". Then she replied "Oh, you are a good boy". I asked her what she meant, and she said that she was ironical, but she refused to explain the irony. Can you explain it to me?
 
  • Landaris

    Member
    Spanish
    I'm not sure if the first occasion will help because it was an Italian woman with a very low level of English who said it (in the second occasion it was an Irish woman). Actually, I was wondering if they might have a similar expression in Italian. Anyway, here it goes. I had dated this woman once and I was chatting with her trying to get a second date. I told her that I attend salsa lessons and the conversation went on like this:
    She: All my friends who go to salsa course do it just to "pick someone".
    Me: Yeah, me too.
    She: Ahah!
    Me: No, I mean it.
    She: Good boy!

    may be she wanted a bad boy..?;)
    Maybe, but I hope that was not the case, this woman is some thirty years older than me :p.
     

    papakapp

    Senior Member
    English - NW US
    I know of three ways to use "good boy"

    First, the literal sense. [spoken with exaggerated emphasis]
    Second, in the sense that what you are doing is 'bad', but the speaker approves of bad things such as this. [spoken with very deliberate, but diminutive emphasis]
    Third, in the sense that what you are doing actually is good, but the speaker would only approve if you were doing something bad. [spoken very flat]

    Tone of voice will tell you the true meaning almost every time, but you will have to experience them to know the difference I think. However, a good rule of thumb would be that the literal sense is almost never used among peers.
     
    Last edited:

    Landaris

    Member
    Spanish
    Thank you papakapp. Maybe it's the second option in this case. Certainly it's none of the two others. However, I'm not sure if I get it. We don't have a similar expression in Spanish.

    My best guess goes along this line: This woman thinks that if I wear a t-shirt that says that, it means that I usually flirt with women in pubs and night clubs. She thinks that in some way that kind of behaviour can be considered "bad", but she approves it. Since this woman is some 30 years older than me, her message would be something like "You might expect that a woman like me disapproves your t-shirt and the kind of behaviour that can be inferred from it, but that is not the case with me.".

    Does this make sense?
     

    papakapp

    Senior Member
    English - NW US
    Thank you papakapp. Maybe it's the second option in this case. Certainly it's none of the two others. However, I'm not sure if I get it. We don't have a similar expression in Spanish.

    My best guess goes along this line: This woman thinks that if I wear a t-shirt that says that, it means that I usually flirt with women in pubs and night clubs. She thinks that in some way that kind of behaviour can be considered "bad", but she approves it. Since this woman is some 30 years older than me, her message would be something like "You might expect that a woman like me disapproves your t-shirt and the kind of behaviour that can be inferred from it, but that is not the case with me.".

    Does this make sense?
    Yes. That makes complete sense.

    Which would mean that the use of her word "ironic" would be imprecise, but it would be misused in a commonly misused way.

    **edit**
    It also could imply that she was a cougar. But further "research" would have been needed to know for sure.
     
    Last edited:

    Landaris

    Member
    Spanish
    It also could imply that she was a cougar. But further "research" would have been needed to know for sure.
    may be she wanted a bad boy..?;)
    Wow, I knew that this topic would bring interesting answers! I hadn't considered that possibility when I posted, but your answers have made me wonder. I don't think that this is the case, though, unless she is extremely cheeky, and she doesn't seem to be. This happened in a book club that both of us attend, in front of two other members of the club. It doesn't look like the kind of situation where cougars would be looking for "bad boys". Anyway, in spite of my perennial wish to improve my English, I think that I will skip the "research" this time. Given the age difference, I prefer to remain ignorant.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    When my dog does something right I say, "Good boy".

    If I told somebody "good boy" I would be condescending; it would be an insult of a minor manner.

    If someone told me I was a "good boy" I would respond immediately with, "What do you mean by that statement?" Which from me would mean, "What's your problem buddy?"

    But I don't know your friends and I don't know if English is their first language. A lot of leeway is afforded to people speaking a second language.


    On a separate note, I always favor research. :D
     

    Landaris

    Member
    Spanish
    I'm positive that this was not an insult. This woman is very nice to me and the atmosphere in the club is very respectful and polite. English is her native language, she's Irish. One of the administrators of the forum, Cagey, suggested that this expression could be used differently in the UK and the USA:
    Cagey said:
    It seems to me that someone from the UK would be most likely to recognize this idiom.
     
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