A giant sapin de noël in the Mediterranean port of Bandol, south of France.
TODAY'S WORD: la flemme
: laziness, reluctance
Consider all these translations for "j'ai la flemme":
I don't feel like, I'm too lazy, I'm not motivated, I can't be bothered, I don't even care, I haven't the courage
Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.
French pronunciation MP3 file
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
“For the joy it brings”
As I look up to the highest cupboard in our house, guilty thoughts permeate my mind: What if we skip the tree this year? Would anyone notice or care? Is it a crime not to deck the halls at Christmastime?
Recognizing the lassitude as one big bout of holiday flemme, I had a little pep talk with my inner flemmarde: It's time to prendre du poil de la bête! Time to pep up, se requinquer! and the only way to do it is to move it. Move that energy. Start by moving the tree!
Ni chaud ni froid?
Dragging a bistro chair over to the mile-high cupboard, I retrieved our sapin artificiel and began decorating it, beginning with la guirlande lumineuse. I began to think about why I had been so reluctant to trim our tree: Was it indifference (ça ne me fait ni chaud ni froid?) Or lack of novelty? (Our Christmas tree lingered until Easter last year...) Or was it because no one was participating this time—does my family have la flemme too? I tested the theory when my son returned from work: "Max, help me put some ornaments on the tree?"
"Désolé. Trop occupé!" Jean-Marc was busy, too, with les cadeaux de fin d’année (delivering wine to Toulon, to Aubagne, to Marseilles...) and Jules was in her studio, keeping warm under a pile of blankets (Smokey being part of that pile). Jackie would have helped faire le sapin, but she moved out last week--which brings me back to Pourquoi?
Pourquoi faire? What's the point in decorating? Who am I doing this for anyway?
From flemme...to flamme!
Once the fairy lights were on the little tree I stepped back and, Holy Flamme! There it was: une étincelle. A spark in my heart...and then another. I hurried over to get Mom and drag her with me into The Spirit of Christmas, as it moved through our home--an Eternal Flamme overcoming la flemme.
"I'll be there in a minute," Mom said, putting on her lipstick.
I ran back to the house to put on some Christmas music and light a pine-scented candle (the best friend of a faux sapin). When I turned I saw Mom at the glass door. Those same sparks in my heart were now in Mom’s eyes which were lit with excitement. Even Smokey had the spark, bark! bark!
The mixture of surprise and delight on Mom's face as she discovered the lighted Christmas tree put an end to a nagging question—Pourquoi?
The answer was so simple now: for the joy it brings! Pour la joie que cela procure!
la flemme = laziness, reluctance
J’ai la flemme = I don’t feel like it
le (la) flemmard(e) = idler, lazybones
prendre du poil de la bête = to bounce back
se requinquer = perk up, pep up
le sapin = fir tree, pine tree
artificiel = imitation, fake, ersatz
la guirlande lumineuse = Christmas-tree lights
ni chaud ni froid = indifference
Ça ne me fait ni chaud ni froid = I don’t mind either way
désolé = sorry
je suis trop occupé = I’m too busy
le cadeau de fin d’année = year-end gift clients give each other
faire le sapin = to put up a Christmas tree
pourquoi? = why?
pourquoi faire = why do it
pour la joie que cela procure = for the joy it brings
...a few words missing from the soundfile
une étincelle = spark
une flamme = flame
un faux sapin = fake tree
Bark, bark! 12-year-old Smokey beneath the fairy lights, doing his best impression of Le Flemmard, or Lazybones.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety