Club Members Do Not Grouch - Much

photo: l to r, dana, jan, mark, heather

From left to right: Dana Shaw, Jan Shaw, Mark
Kritz and Heather Stimmler.

News from the 'Café Metropole Club

Paris:- Thursday, 28. October 1999:- Getting ready to go to the 'Club,' I decide not to overdress - thus guaranteeing that somebody will show up in a tuxedo - or in a suit at least. It is not raining, it is not summer, so I go like I am, and take the bus 38 again.

On the way over from Châtelet I do not see anything except a poster on the side of the Théâtre de la Ville and a lot of people on the Rue de Rivoli. At Samaritaine, the Rue de la Monnaie is closed and full of sales booths in the street, which seem to be drawing a lot of Parisians with the weather being good enough for browsing in comfort.

On the Quai du Louvre not many are sitting outside on the terraces of the string of cafés, and only a couple are on the long terrace outside La Corona.

As I am taking yet another photo of the exterior of the café from a traffic pylon in the middle of the Rue de l'Amiral Coligny, Patrick the waiter waves from the doorway.

Inside La Corona I shake hands with all; Patrick, Monsieur Ferrat - last week's waiter - with the manager and his assistant. In the big room behind the bar I head for the club's area and Patrick comes over and tells me two possible new arrivals are sitting closer to the bar.

This is how I meet Jan and Dana Shaw from Florida for the first time. Dana wrote in April 1996 to ask if the Rue de la Huchette had changed much; hisphoto: patrick, mark email appeared in issue 1.09 of Metropole and he has been writing pretty steadily ever since - which gives him and Jan not only 'charter members' status, but an 'honorary members' rating as well.

Mark has a salad; searches for anchovies and finds some.

Patrick shifts all their stuff to the club's area and the meeting starts precisely on time. I don't do any head-counts until Heather Stimmler, Mark Kritz and Kathleen Bouvier arrive - thus technically reaching a quorum. I don't know why I bother with it because it has all been abolished.

Mark is wearing a suit, of course. It is one I haven't seen before because it is the first time I've ever seen him wearing one. It is probably because he wants to have a collar to be hot under, because in this week's club promo 'Lots of Mirrors, But No Smoke' I wrote that he comes from Santa Clara instead of Santa Cruz, California.

Right away I see this has been a serious error because he carefully writes it all down in the club's non-minutes booklet. I have failed miserably, because he writes two other corrections to last week's 'report' too. Passing off the Santa Clara mistake as a result of reading a lot of Raymond Chandler lately - is no excuse.

Then he says, "We should only talk about things that have gotten better in Paris! There was too much grouching last time."

Meanwhile, Heather and I tell Jan about what she will see if she looks west from the top of the Arc de Triomphe because she has said that she finally wants to go to the top of the Tour Eiffel.

"La Défense," Mark says, "Is an abomination!"

But we have also heard his 'no grouch' comment so we don't pursue this line. Nobody has to look west from the top of the Arc de Triomphe if they don't want to.

One of Mark's pastimes in Paris is finding spare parts for old European appliances that friends have bought when new and taken back home. He pulls out a Braun electric razor part - in its original package - from the '60's. He declined buying a replacement for 50 francs and now all he can find are ones for 100 francs.

I switch ears and Heather is saying, "Tell her something funny and then she'll tell all her American friends," and then she says she was at some wine-tasting. When she was asked which fruit one tasted like, she guessed 'kumquat?' Heather says she can tell if a wine is 'corked' and that's it.

By now Mark is drawing a map on the placemat. He has rented is apartment to the Shaws for a couple of months and is explaining the boulangerie situation.

On the map he has marked the boulangeries by their quality: one, two and five. To get to 'one' you gophoto: kathleen, heather down the stairs and then up a long block to the corner. So his solution is to keep going downhill after the stairs, to a boulangerie by the Mairie - which is neither one, two or five - because there's a bus there that runs a zigzag route back up the hill.

Kathleen and Heather agree: 'See the bag guy at Temple.'
Continued on page 2...
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