Heather Says, Non-Members

photo: mike, heather, kathleen, marcel, veronica, maryann, joe, jan, dana

When more than six charter members meet, their
names don't fit here.

News from the 'Café Metropole Club'

Paris:- Thursday, 11. November 1999:- Unlike last week, the weather is as miserable as it can get in November - a month which can have Paris' most miserable weather. Wind from the northeast, below 10 C. and shifting between 'about to rain,' drizzle and plain rain.

Just about right for the annual Armistice Day ceremonies in Paris and 11. November ceremonies elsewhere in Europe. If I remember correctly, 'carnival' officially starts at 11:11, on 11. November - in Cologne - and workers who can get away with it, get happily potted today throughout Germany.

A perfect day for a Café Metropole Club meeting in other words. For me it is 'between drizzle and plain rain' for the quickly-covered distance from the métro at Châtelet to the café La Corona.

Ah, this is what a cozy and warm café in Paris, in November, is supposed to be. Cars are splashingphoto: 2 onions soups by on the Quai du Louvre outside, the express café machine is cooking, and the café is sprinkled with refugees from the elements.

Hot, hot onion soup, on a cold, damp day in Paris.

The first refugees - ah, em, charter members - to arrive are Heather Stimmler, who is not working at Elle Online because it is a holiday, and Heather's husband, Mike Hall, who is not working at Barclay's Bank for the same reason.

As soon as they sit down, Mike becomes a new charter member and they both order onion soup. They also ask Patrick, today's 'club' waiter, for napkins. The couple think they been gassed somehow on the Quai du Louvre, and their eyes are all runny.

Patrick says kids spray tear gas in the faces of people on the terraces, in order to filch their portable phones. But there are no people on open terraces today. Maybe they got hit with an accidental spray from the plant boutique just down the quay.

Today is definitely an 'onion soup day.' I do not know the 'folklore' of this soup and neither does Heather, so we make some up. Besides lumpy stuff, Heather is certain the soup contains onions. We wonder together whether they are from concentrated onion juice, or from real, whole onions. She says it is hard to tell.

If you like onion soup, La Corona's is not bad, for 45 francs a bowl. "Not quite as good,' says Heather, "As the place near Sèvres-Babylone."

Jan and Dana Shaw come in from the elements outside. Their big news is a tale of scoring an autograph off Andrephoto: the corona's sundae Agassi and a shy Stefi Graf - who were in Paris for the 'Open' at Bercy, which Mr. Agassi won - while they were at the airport to put Jan's mother, Eveline, on a flight to Albany.

It being a holiday, for the 'club' it is 'Husband's Day.' I have met Kathleen Bouvier's Marcel before - most notably at the Statue of Liberty light-up. Kathleen is also the only one to bring a mom today; I re-welcome Veronica Hendrie.

But not so cold and damp - for a big chocolate sundae.

Meanwhile, Heather thinks it is her wedding anniversary. She and Mike got married - the 'civil' version - in the Mairie of the 4th arrondissement on 17. April and the church ceremony was - but I do not find out.

Veronica Hendrie has invited Maryann and Joe Platania, and they come in - from the elements - and instantly become 'magazine non-reader' charter members.

Mike quits trying to remember when the church ceremony was and asks, "If we are all charter members, what other kind of members are there?"

"Non-members," says Heather.

Most of the members present are drinking La Corona's red wine that comes in glass jugs. Patrick, who is definitely a charter member as well as our waiter, de-recommends the 25 cl. jug, saying, "You only get one and a half balloons out of one."

These are the customary Paris café 15 cl. balloon glasses. Kathleen and I try to calculate how many of these glasses can be filled from a 50 cl. jug. This is impossible because a 15 cl. 'balloon' only holds about the same amount as two shot-glasses, and these are being emptied before they get a chance to evaporate.

I also learn a new word for 'husband.' Kathleen says these are now known as 'spousal units.'

This, so-called English language of ours! I rant about it, about its degeneration, like somebody French talking about language - and Dana, a school administrator, says it is not his fault.

Then, for no reason at all, three new topics pop up. By the window-end of the tables, everybody claims to be from Rochester, New York. Marcel - or Dana? - says everybody should have fun until 30 and then go to school, and, or, get married. No, Dana says the opposite; faithful to his profession. Kathleen says, "I'm going to wear this hat until next spring."

Marcel, who is really from Savoie, says he lived in Rochester for three years. I give the 'fun until 30' issue a shot until Dana looks pained, which is just as well because I want to find out about Kathleen's hat.

She says she's had two-centimetre-length hair for ten years, andphoto: joe uses portable phone now that she's letting it grow out, she wants it to be a surprise in the spring. Then she'll decide how to have it 'done.'

By this time, nearly everybody is saying they have lived in Rochester, New York. I want to know what the name 'Kodak'* means or signifies. Nobody knows.

Joe, only in Paris for two days, already has the telephone habit.

A new town boosted every week! - but all these Rochester fans agree the weather today in Paris is better than there, whatever it is.

Metropole has a lot of readers who live in California - but none are here today - and I get regular reports about the weather from there - it was raining on Monday.

This is fine with Veronica, who lived someplace in California for ten years. I don't know why, but every time the name of that big state crops up, Veronica hisses.

Kathleen says, apropos of the Minnesota discussion a few weeks ago, "It wasn't Minnesota, it was Michigan." This means that some of the people who claimed origin or one-time residence in Minnesota, were not being precise.

Perhaps because this is the way things often are in France, Patrick chooses to have his new weekly portrait taken together with Kathleen. Or maybe it is just a co-incidence.

This report may seem like nonsense to you. The way it is, with the Café Metropole Club getting new charter members every week, it is my fault my ears seem to be tuned to the nonsense frequency.

The club's members actually do have animated conversations with each other, about things other than Minnesota, Albany or Rochester. But my ears do not quite work in perfect stereo harmony, so this is what I have to report. At least, it's not made up.

At some time after 17:00, we all settle up our notes with Patrick and drift out into the damp Paris night. The trafficphoto: patrick and kathleen on the Quai du Louvre looks like a stalled cattle stampede with headlights, and two guys are pushing an expired Renault 25 up onto the sidewalk.

Patrick is not the only one to wonder what Kathleen has under her hat.

Marcel tells me how long it takes him in the evenings to get from the Perifreak! to where he lives in the 10th arrondissement. He says he goes right past where I live fairly quickly - I know how quickly because I dodge it all the time - but the stall starts at Port Royal, at the top of the Boulevard Saint-Michel.

This reminds me it is a holiday today. What is all this traffic even doing here? Going home from this morning's ceremonies at the Etoile?

*PS:- The American Heritage Dictionary says 'Kodak' (ko'dak) - I can't reproduce the flat bar over the 'o' or the smilely over the 'a' - means, 'n, A trademark for a hand camera.' While I suppose it is a made-up name like TV's 'Kojak,' I wonder what 'foot' cameras are called.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Next Thursday, 18. November, is Beaujolais Nouveau day - but it not an 'official' public holiday in most parts of Europe. I expect the café La Corona meeting place will be more open than usual, so the time for your club's meeting remains from 15:00 to 17:00 regardless of the sizes of the wine jugs and the balloon glasses that go with them. 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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