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."

This is truly astonishing to me because I was looking closely at some very fine and well-behaved dirt yesterday when I was in the Luxembourg gardens watching the boules players.

As it turns out, according to Marion, Paris' dirt is only ugly compared to dirt in Minnesota. Twenty or 30 years ago Minnesotaphoto: cafe & wine, light & shadow was completely covered by extremely ugly slagheaps from iron mines - but over the years these have been weathered and now have a pleasing red-dirt color, which presents a harmonious contrast with all the green things in the state.

A lot of outside light and shadow inside La Corona.

At five Gary and Marion leave the meeting. Kathleen says I should have had more to say myself. She is right, but all the Minnesota and Paris' ugly dirt are so completely new to me that I am sort of speechless.

Besides, this 'club' isn't for me to 'make speeches.' I am not the chairman, and other readers who are not present today are protesting about the 'club's rules' as it is. They are saying that if I don't rescind them, I will be no better than any other mediocre 'dictator.'

I have a feeling that the Café Metropole Club is not going to be normal. Mind you, I have never been a 'club' member before, so I have no idea what 'normal' may be.

Don't let this keep you away. Our waiter - who kindly took our group photo - whose name I will get straight next week - is a sizeable waiter. If any club members get too rowdy we'll have them tossed out into the Quai du Louvre, and we'll rip up the membership cards they don't have.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Next Thursday, 21. October; from 15:00 to 17:00, which is also known as 3 PM to 5 PM in some of the world's time zones. Place:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral Coligny
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli or Pont-Neuf
In the 'Grande Salle'

The Café Metropole Club Rules (Revised)

There are only two tiny little 'rules' for the 'Café Metropole Club.'

The first is that I will be in it at 15:00 every Thursday; with the usual disclaimers for 'unforseen circumstances.' If you look out of a window andphoto: location map, la corona see an unforseen disaster of any sort happening, there will probably be no club meeting, if the day also happens to be a Thursday.

The second 'rule' is that everything you consume at the club is your responsibility. You may consider this to be the club's membership 'dues,' but for me it means simple bookkeeping - I don't have to keep any.

Some readers have suggested the 'first rule' is a cop-out and the 'second rule' means I'm lazy. I say they - they know who they are! - should try and start a club without any rules. There's a rule against doing this sort of thing without rules.

I also suggested that if nobody turned up, I would go to a movie instead. First, I know someone is going to turn up and second, 'Star Wars' episode 367 just started yesterday in Paris and I haven't seen it three times yet. I have a 'right' to go see it again; especially since I fell asleep during the last half the second time I saw it.

Still No Café Metropole Club Services

This is your club as much as it is mine; so I expect you to make suggestions for services. If I can remember these and they are possible to implement, then they will become available, if legally allowed.

A bientôt à Paris,
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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