"Europe Has Better Gadgets"

photo: corona terrace

Some of the charter members wait here for
the club to begin today.

News from the 'Café Metropole Club'

Paris:- Thursday, 4. November 1999:- Like last week, it is a beautiful day in Paris; maybe even better than a week ago. The last thing anybody on a five-day visit would want to do is come to the club.

Since my 'visit' is now somewhere around its 8,335th day I do not think about this as I pack everything that I would normally forget to bring, except Le Parisien, which I always forget. I do remember to get some money from the fickle machine that wouldn't give me any this morning.

My watch says there is perhaps not quite enough time to take the bus, so I take the métro instead. This is so quick that I have time to windowshop on the Rue de Rivoli, make a blitz trip to Les Halles - 20 years old today! - with half its wrinkles hidden in inky shadows and the others - nah! - it's time to stop bashing Les Halles.

The old restaurant 'Le Chien Qui Fume' looks new - all the ones closest to Les Halles do - but back a block in the Rue Saint-Honoré some old types looking like old types, remain.

What with taking a couple of photos and rambling around a bit, I arrive at La Corona at five after three. Afterphoto: ric alone at club the customary handshakes all round by the bar I find nobody waiting for me in the big room behind.

Why did I forget to bring a newspaper again?

I pull out tables, I rearrange chairs, I sit on the fake leather seat, I take out the club's names' booklet and the club's non-official non-minutes booklet, and my over-fat official 'club' pen. When this is finished, I am still alone, surrounded by 20 empty places. Oh-oh.

But I don't have time to read Le Parisien I didn't bring, because Heather Stimmler and Claire Waddington have been sitting outside on La Corona's Quai de Louvre terrace in the sun, enjoying themselves.

Then the Shaws, Jan and Dana, arrive, with Jan's mother, Eveline Aron. Mark Kritz arrives without fanfare. They are followed by Kathleen Bouvier who has brought her mother too. In fact Veronica Tyrell Hendrie has just got off a jetplane and come from Roissy.

Coming straight from the airport to the club is a first, but there are others to come. Some of the club members who said they had lived in Minnesota or Santa Cruz a couple of weeks ago, now say that they have lived in Albany, New York too - or still do.

Mark Kritz even thinks Eveline Aron was a librarian at the university there and she says she was. Veronica Hendrie lives on top of a mountain near there, in a space cleared for helicopter landings, with a good view of another mountain top that would be good for the same thing if anybody had helicopters.

No club meeting can really begin before Patrick brings everybody's drink order and somebody makes a significant quote for me to note.

Heather says, "The drilling started at 8:30 this morning."

She doesn't know for certain that it is drilling; but it is something that makes a lot of noise, close by. Paris isphoto: waiter patrick, photo heather always being fixed up and with its often narrow streets the sound of it has no place to go except into your sleeping ear.

Patrick the waiter takes care of all club members' orders. Photo: ©Heather Stimmler.

Everybody except me and Veronica Hendrie have been to the recent Salon du Chocolat. I didn't go because I only found out about it when I saw bus ads for it on the same weekend it was taking place. Veronica didn't go because she was on her mountain top near Albany.

The chocolate expo was a big hit with everybody - having, as everybody said, lots of free samples. You know how it is - you get one taste and then you are supposed to buy a half-kilo of it, but if you've already been around the expo once you have already had a half-kilo of 'tastes.' The same thing happens at the wine expos.

The Salon de Mariage is not quite the same. As Heather points out, "What do I want to do that for? I just got married." In France, there are extra-special marriage bon-bons to be sampled, but I forget to tell her this.

Jan Shaw tells us the only reason for having kids is to get control of the grandkids. It is supposed to be the reward for having kids in the first place - but most of us do not have any experience with this. From photo: club winea kid's point of view, going to Disneyland with grandparents might be a better deal than going with parents.

Not a new way of having 'Coke Light,' but an old way of having vin rouge.

Then, because nobody has guessed, Kathleen proudly announces that it is her 40th birthday. The big four-oh. She says '40' three more times and grins as if she's won 100 francs playing the Millionaire scratch cards.

Nobody has ever had a birthday at the club before and I haven't anticipated this happening, so there is no cake or funny hats, no champagne and music, no candles! - but Halloween was only a few days ago and I guess everybody did birthday-type stuff then. Happy Birthday, Kathleen!

About here my notes deteriorate. It is Eveline Aron, I think, who says she doesn't live right in Albany, but in LeRoy - which is the hometown of 'Jello.'

This is almost too astonishing to be true. So much so, that I don't get the details of this wonder - 'Jello' has a hometown! - and my brain is reeling from the possibilities of it, when she tops this by saying, "There are better gadgets in Europe."

Eveline grew up in Europe and worked in a Spitfire factory during the war, so I guess if this is her opinion it may very well be true.

Kathleen amazes her mother by describing a typical tiny European combo wash-drying machine, built to fit into the average European-sized closet; the kind that Europeans habitually insist on calling apartments.

I refrain from saying these miniature washing machines usually use a lot of power heating the water they use, and have 90 minute to two-hour cycles - just for the washing. For the drying part, I think they send the stuff to Majorca - so overall, they are a bit slow.

If case you are thinking of rushing to Europe to pickphoto: club group up neat gadgets, I should warn you about a couple of things. I think Eveline has mistaken some very tiny European cars for gadgets - such as the 'Smart,' co-built by Mercedes and the watch company, Swatch, which is famous for watches full of tiny parts.

From left, clockwise to right: Veronica, Kathleen, Heather, Jan, Eveline, Dana, Claire and Mark.

While this car is truly tiny, European garages are not large. The fact is, in many cases local drivers have to push their cars into garages because if they drive them in, there isn't enough room to open the doors to get out.

The typical 'L'-shaped doorhandles are also very keen on tearing pockets off jackets or ripping sleeves to shreds as you pass them, but I'm not sure these fall into the 'gadget' category.

We were saddened to learn that Heather will not be with us next Thursday because she going to work for the online version of 'Elle' magazine - she was supposed to start today but she got it put off until tomorrow.

She did say she would try to get the entire editorial crew - all nifty neaties from New York - to change their hours so they could all come. She may do it too - she left with Claire before the talk got around to grandkids.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Next Thursday, 11. November, is Armistice Day and a public holiday in most parts of Europe. I expect the café La Corona meeting place will be open as usual, so the time for it remains from 15:00 to 17:00. I will confirm this and if there is any change, I will post it in next Monday's regular edition of Metropole. The place is:

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

A bientôt à Paris,
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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