The Café Metropole Club

photo: charter members

From left to right: Kathleen Bouvier, Ed, Heather
Stimmler, Gary Martin and Marion Mann.

Debuts Today In Paris

Paris:- Thursday, 14. October 1999:- Today's sky is very high and full of blue plus has blazing sunlight all the way up to the top - another day for walking out of Paris' shadows into light. Not really an ideal day for indoor 'club' meetings.

As I walk over from the métro at Châtelet I hope we are so many that La Corona throws us out, and we can hold the club's first meeting on the nearby Pont des Arts. There I go - dreaming again.

The waiter - 'our' waiter - whose name will come with next week's club 'report' - gives me the whole back end of the 'grande salle' where there is plenty of room for 20 at least.

As I arrange myself, Heather Stimmler is shown the way from the bar to where I'm sitting. We only have time for brief introductions before Gary Martin and Marion Mann arrive; followed by Kathleen Bouvier, who wrote the 'Nearly Naked In Paris' feature a few weeks ago.

When the waiter returns with the La Corona's assistant manager, they both welcome us and the Club to their café and the waiter takes our orders.

Gary Martin and his sister Marion Mann are from Minnesota and Gary is on his fourth visit to Paris. Both Heatherphoto: waiter, photographer Stimmler and Kathleen Bouvier live in Paris, but do not know each other. They too are either from or have lived in Minnesota.

Except for having met Kathleen Bouvier before today, I have never met so many people from Minnesota at once, in one place, before. It must be something caused by the extraordinary weather outside.

This 'club' has no secretary to see if we have a quorum, so the 'club' business is simply skipped and we sit around and chat.

Our excellent waiter and today's group photographer.

Gary tells us about getting his wallet nipped while buying Paris multi-day transit passes. We agree that pickpockets are a world-wide plague and are not some Paris specialty. All the same I remember I haven't heard the 'beware of pickpockets' warning broadcast in the métro lately.

Gary has another story about how to get a meal without speaking French in Paris. "Just point at what you want," he advises.

Marion remembers that meal too. It lasted a long time and the diners lingered. She recalls wondering, "Aren't these people going home? Do they drink all night? This is like Minnesota," she says with a grin.

"Roadrage,' says Kathleen, "Happens in Paris too." I have never heard this expression before and wonder if it is another Minnesota feature.

But no. It is about Paris traffic and what happened when Kathleen's husband zipped a little too close to another driver. When halted by red light, the other driver came up on foot and gave Kathleen's husband's nose a pop; which really surprised him.

When she says it was a car with 92 department plates, I am not surprised at all. A lot of drivers with cars registered in 92 use the roads like they are on their own personal railways and it is a sensible thing to give them all the right-of-way you can.

Heather is a bit nervous because when she leaves the 'club' she is going to a interview for a job. So she leaves a bit early with all our best wishes for a good result.

Then Marion says, "Paris has ugly dirt."


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