If all else fails

You do something 'if all else fails' if no other options are available

Today's story: Cold plungeCold plunge
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If all else fails

Today’s expression is “if all else fails.” All else: this doesn’t sound normal, but trust me, it’s a really common thing to say. This is an idiom, you have to use it just like this, don’t change it at all: “if all else fails.”

We use this in a situation where there are multiple options, multiple ways we can do something. And all of the good options are eliminated for some reason, so you have to use the last option, the final alternative. “If all else fails” means, “if every other good option is unavailable for some reason” or “if we have tried everything else and nothing else works” then we’ll do X, our least favorite option.

Getting a good breakfast in Chicago can be hard at ten or eleven in the morning on a Sunday if the weather is nice. Imagine you’re with friends and you want to go to brunch. But you know what happens at that time? Crowds. Lines. Waiting lists. Ugh. You’re with your friends and you’re talking about where to go. You each have an idea for a place, but it’s possible that they’ll all be full.

But you know this neighborhood and you know there’s a diner that always has availability. It’s not the most popular place, it’s not on the blogs or on TikTok, but they reliably serve eggs and potatoes and hot coffee. Where I used to live, it was a place called West River Café. Not glamorous at all. But they had good pancakes, good eggs, and hot coffee.

So I might have said in this situation, I might have said, okay we’ll try the first two or three places, those two or three places we really want to go, but if all else fails, we’ll go to West River Café. All else fails here means: if our first option is too crowded, if at our second option there’s a line out the door, if our third option has a 45-minute wait—if all else fails—if all our other options are eliminated—then we’ll go to West River Café.

Let’s transition from hot coffee to cold water. You listened to today’s lesson. And let’s imagine—this isn’t hard to imagine, but let’s imagine that you’re braver than I am. And you want to work a cold plunge into your daily routine.

There are lots of ways to get a cold plunge . How are you going to do it? Let’s say you don’t live in an expensive condominium building with a cold plunge on the amenity floor. All right, that’s not going to work. What about a spa? That can get expensive for just a minute or two of cold water. So let’s not pay for a spa day for just one minute in the cold bath.

What’s next? You could buy a cold plunge tub for your yard. That’s $15,000 minimum. Maybe we don’t want to work for several months just to save the money for the tub. Hmmm. What else? Oh, the cheap tub option. What about that? Ah, well maybe you live in an apartment and you can’t do that. How about the bathtub? You only have a shower, not a tub. Oh, what are we going to do? How about you jump in the frigid cold lake? Oh, that’s right. You live in Brazil. There are no frigid cold lakes where you live. Well, if all else fails, you can just take a cold shower.

You see what I mean? Every other option was eliminated. So you’re going with the last resort, the last possible option, and that is to just take a shower with the coldest water that comes out of the tap. That might not be the same as submerging yourself in 15-degree water, but it’s something. If all else fails, just take a cold shower and you’ll get some of the health benefits of a cold plunge.

Technology! Don’t get me started. We love it and hate it, right? We design our lives around technology, devices, stuff like that. But technology sometimes fails us. If you plan a movie night, but your internet goes down…what can you do? You can maybe stream a movie on your phone? But that can chew up your data. Over the air TV? Do you have an antenna? Probably not. If all else fails, you can read a good book. If all else fails, you can have a conversation! With the people you live with! Now that’s a last resort, right?

JR’s song of the week

Today’s song of the week is by Sheryl Crow, it was the song that made her famous in 1995. “All I Wanna Do.” The lyrics go like this: “All I wanna do is have some fun until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard.”

Santa Monica Boulevard is a famous street in Los Angeles. It runs through the Beverly Hills and West Hollywood neighborhoods. In the lyrics, she’s sitting with someone drinking a beer at noon on a Tuesday, watching people go about their business on a weekday. But she and a stranger next to her both want something more exciting. The day and the night are ours, she sings.

Good song, super famous in the late 1990s . Sheryl Crow, “All I Wanna Do” is the song of the week, thank you JR.

See you next time!

That’s all for today. I’m dying to know. Has anyone done a cold plunge and what do you think about it? Let me know, reply to today’s Instagram Stories or answer the question in the Facebook group.

Instagram: @plainenglishpod

And to get into the Facebook group, just go to PlainEnglish.com/Facebook and it will take you right there. We’ll be back on Monday with a new lesson. See you then!

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Story: Cold plunge