Beware the Ides of March – Intermediates

Beware the Ides Flies of March!

Marseille put on high alert as giant horsefly roams the Vieux Port, attacking passers-by.

While I really like the month of March, it has given us many memorable experiences and expressions over history, and not all are good. For example, the Ides of March was an important Roman religious date, famous for being the day when Julius Caesar found out that knives are really sharp. The term March Madness refers to an important basketball competition for American colleges, when supporters get a little crazy from all the excitement. The expression ‘Mad as a March Hare’ refers to the European Hare (lièvre), which has its peak breeding season (saison des amour) in March, during which they all—much like American Basketball fans—go a little crazy with all the excitement.  A number of disasters have also happened during March: in 1562 the Guerres de Religion began in Vassy; in 1909 the Titanic sank; in 1918 the ‘Spanish Flu’ officially started, and; in Japan in 2011 the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster happened, just to name a few examples. Is March bad luck? I hope not, but the month does have some explaining to do!

 Actually, the purpose of this text is to introduce the most diabolical (diabolique) thing associated with the word ‘march’—the March Fly. The March Fly is known as a taon in France, and as a horsefly in the US and other countries. If you’ve ever spent time with this little guy, you’ll know that its job is to terrorise you, sucking your blood and leaving you with painful reminders. It’s like a giant mosquito with a bad attitude. The name March Fly comes from the UK, and refers to the time of year when they first start to appear (March, at the start of Spring).

Much like a hole in the bottom of your boat, the March Fly is very good at being annoying. It’s known for its stinging bite (morsure cinglante). Usually, you will be minding your own business, enjoying life, and the first sign that you are in trouble is when you spot (repérer) one of them sitting on something, staring at you with its beady (perçant) little eyes. Now, at this stage, like any good horror movie, you can run but it’s too late to hide (se cacher). You can try to watch them, or shoo (déguerpir) them away, but sooner or later you will look away for a moment and then it will disappear. Dun dun dun! where has it gone…? You can try to pretend everything is ok, but you know that everything is not ok. Thirty seconds passes. A minute. Did it leave? No! Suddenly you feel a sting (piqûre) on your arm or leg. It’s got you! You try to hit it, but it flies away. Will it get you again? Most likely. The stress….