le trac (trak) noun, masculine
stage fright, jitters which come about before a public appearance, or before an ordeal, trial or exam
Beaucoup de gens ont le trac avant un concert, moi malheureusement pas du tout. A lot of people get the jitters before a concert, unfortunately I don't get them at all. --Pascal Obispo (French singer)
A Day in a French Life...
I have eight radio interviews scheduled (via telephone) for the coming week and I hope you will listen to me talk about France if you happen to live in one of the cities listed at the end of this post.
Version Two of the above sentence (or the effect of such a request):
I will be sitting, deep in concentration, at the edge of a quiet sea. I would like you to run up, unhitch the sack of (heretofore gagged) screeching seagulls slung over your shoulder and shout "BOO!" at the top of your lungs while abruptly poking my sides.
In French it is called 'le trac' and I'm afraid I'll have it bad come Monday when I'll be wishing the telephone at my ear was really an empty can of Orangina connected to an empty can of Coke via a landline of tied shoelaces. Either way I might trip, or, at the very least, put my foot in my mouth. And there goes fear again...
"But you know the answers. They're all in here," Barbara says with a smile, knocking on her copy of the book (in reference to a previous post). I don't admit to her that the book is a blur in my mind. Instead, I listen to my friend assure me that it is normal to feel angoissée.* "It's much better than being over-confident! It's good to be nervous. The adrenaline will help." Adrenaline--she should talk!*
I went to the outdoor market yesterday to distract a distressed brain. Walking back to my car, arms weighed down by flowering sage, potted oregano, and fried egg rolls from the funny Chinese take-out van (parked next to the funny poulet* rotisserie van) I saw Brigitte illegally parking outside the upholsterer's. I gathered she was on her way to the flower stand to buy her weekly bouquet of peonies. "Do you have time for a coffee?" she asked.
At Café de la Tour I spilled the haricots.* "I have a thirty-minute live interview coming up on Monday and I am afraid."
"If they ask if the French smell," Brigitte replied, "tell them that, last I saw, there were robinets* and savon* in France. As for fear, just sip sugar water and take a deep breath."
L'eau sucrée*--why hadn't I thought of that? Up until now I had mostly considered what could go wrong during a live interview: what if ten-year-old Max runs by my office, complaining about how the soccer ball is stuck on the roof again? Or what if his little sister shows up with her map asking where Turkey is located? What if Jean-Marc flushes the toilet? Or the neighbor hits his thumb again with the marteau* and shouts "Putain!"*
What is certain, is that come Monday afternoon at 1:10 PM France time, I'll be seated in my office with a cup of sugar water and a stomach bloated with air. Breathe... What if I hyperventilate? What if I get the hiccups? Then can we have that be your cue to release the sack of gagged gulls? Fear should have a purpose, if only to stop hiccups.
References: l'angoissé(e) (f) = anxious; she should talk (read about my cliff-jumping friend, page 150); le poulet (m) = chicken; l'haricot (m) = bean; le robinet (m) = faucet; le savon (m) = soap; l'eau sucrée (f) = sugar water; le marteau (m) = hammer; Putain! = Damn! (literal meaning: hooker)
Listen to the word 'trac': Download trac.wav
Dates and cities for radio interviews beginning 5/1 -- May 1st:
1. 5/1 7:10 am WPHM-AM/Detroit MI 10 min live w/Morning Show
2. 5/1 8:40 am KYMO-AM/FM Harrisburg IL 15 min live w/Sporting Magazine
3. 5/1 9:30 am WRVC-AM/Huntington W.VA 30 min live w/Viewpoint
4. 5/1 10:50 am KCMN-AM/Colorado Springs CO 10 min live w/Tron
5. 5/2 9:10 am Cable Radio Network - national 10 min live w/Jack Roberts
6. 5/5 7:20 am WJLZ-FM/Virginia Beach-Norfolk VA 15 min live w/JP Morgan
7. 5/5 8:05 am KYW-AM/Philadelphia PA 10 min taped w/Don Lancer
8. 5/5 10:30 am WGTD-FM/Milwaukee WI 30 min taped w/Greg Berg, NPR affiliated
*more dates and cities to come...
Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!