A New Member - the Server-Lady!

photo: linda, jan, dana shaw, group

When less than six charter members meet, I shoot
the group through the café's window.

News from the 'Café Metropole Club'

Paris:- Thursday, 18. November 1999:- It is a good thing we hold this week's club meeting inside because outside is unspeakable.

French state radio and TV are on strike about the 35 hour work week business, so FIP radio plays classical music, France-Info plays FIP's music and nobody plays the news. The TV weather news looks unreliable, but is accurately forecasting mucky weather, which is what we've got.

In other words, everything is perfect for Beaujolais Nouveau day in Paris as well as the Café Metropole Club's weekly meeting.

Patrick, the club's number one waiter, went to Tahiti for a while and today Vincent has taken over. I immediately appoint him as a new charter member of the club, and then explain what it means.

Because of Beaujolais Nouveau - everything can be blamed on this today! - I arrive a couple of minutes late, to find Jan and Dana Shaw already comfortably installed in the club's area of the Café La Corona.

Things are pretty quiet with just four members present, until the server-lady, Linda Thalman, shows up; outphoto: corona waiter vincent of breath. She printed out the club's map and wrote down its name and address, and still has had to ask the way.

Once she has entered her personal info into the 'guestbook,' she too becomes a charter member. I wish I looked at the book before declaring this, because she hasn't answered any of the six questions about Paris and none of the three questions about "Metropole Paris.' She did write in the date, and a complaint.

This is Vincent, wearing the official Beaujolais Nouveau boater, tie and apron - for this day only.

She wants the 'virtual' membership card in a 'prettier' color. She has printed it out in black and white and I point out that it looks much better in color because it shows the true richness of the brown envelope paper I used to make it. Sort of like 'nice' dirt.

After Jan and I have a long discussion about where to find leather bags in Paris' garment district, we discuss how to find the garment district because I know where it is. I don't know about the bags though - so don't write to ask where they are until Jan tells me where to find them.

It doesn't bother me a bit that other charter members who are in Paris have chosen to drink their Beaujolais Nouveau elsewhere today. Maybe, like me, they started at eight this morning and have got themselves hung up somewhere.

Both Jan and Dana have made many visits to Paris. Dana remembers looking at shoes in a restaurant in 1962 to see what might be proper feet attire, and being astounded to see a pair of white tennis shoes walk by - in some snazzy sort of place.

Mortified - he didn't and doesn't want to be an 'ugly American' - he looked up to see Jack Lemmon in them just before he sat down to lunch with Billy Wilder.

As everybody knows well, Jack Lemmon is anything but an 'ugly American' so Dana went over to their table and asked for an autograph.

Normally in Paris, this is not done, no matter how famous the celebrity. But it is generally okay ifphoto: beaujolais nouveau est arrive both parties are American - since it is doubtful that either will know this unwritten, unpublished and unvoted silent French 'rule.'

A last reminder of today's 'official' name - 'Arrivé.'

For some reason the only thing to write on was Dana's 'note' for his lunch. Jack Lemmon looked it over to see what they'd had and signed it on the back, dryly saying he wasn't going to pay it. If it had been a 'note' for just drinks, the waiter would have probably innocently torn it in half - but I didn't hear what happened to this famous note.

Linda then mentioned all of the 493 places where she has worn white shoes.

Dana also remembered the size and cost of fancy steaks in Paris in 1962. Lolling off the plate sides, two biggies came in at 36 francs, and a huge pitcher of rosé brought the note to 42 francs; not including the voluntary tip.

These days in France, with 'Mad-Cow' scare, nobody eats beef anymore and if they do, the portions are very small. You'd think you'd be paid to eat it, but instead hording seems to be taking place.

I am daydreaming about something while Jan tells Linda how she met Dana. They were on some committee and Jan decided that they 'needed to have a lot of meetings.' To speed matters along, she made a lot of 'French' onion soup for Dana, and I think this is what stopped my daydreaming because I have recently heard a lot about onion soup.

Since this 'lot of meetings' took place in Athens, Ohio, this town becomes our weekly town deserving a salute from Paris. Salute, Athens Ohio!

As you might imagine, with such a small number of charter members of the club present, it has been a relatively quiet and well-behaved weekly meeting. I don't count the number of jugs of Beaujolais Nouveau that are consumed - it has been as if Vincent is some sort of walking fountain for them.

The two hours are up as quickly as usual. I miss all of the two good quotes and I don't think I should try to invent any. Just after 17:00 the Shaws say goodbye and leave.

Linda, who was recently on a monument-visit to Jordon, has vividly displayed what it is like to carry threephoto: wine, glasses, jugs steel cameras and four huge lenses for them. She doesn't want to be saddled with all this on a coming trip to Berlin.

Demonstrating with an empty cigarette packet, I say that she can get an - automatic - camera the same size. All included; fits in a pocket.

In this view, all of the Beaujolais Nouveau is half-full, except one jug.

Although the she doesn't want to walk all the way - one métro stop! - to Châtelet, this we do and she is so taken with my shortcuts, she sightsees on the way. Some hotel has some sort of flowers hanging off its window ledges. I am supposed photograph these as soon as possible before they are frozen to death. So orders the green-thumb server-lady.

At the fnac in Montparnasse, Michel the camera consultant talks us out of the Olympus I suggest and shows Linda a neat made-of-metal Canon instead. On the surface it seems to have only two controls and this is one too many for Linda.

But. In comparison, the black Olympus looks really clunky - not like my little 'u[mju:]-II' which only has one button to push.

However, when Linda learns that Michel knows the area around the Cadillac Ranch well, Linda cannot resist, especially when Michel says she can use my - fnac, not 'club' - membership card to get 210 francs removed from the price.

After the remainder is paid and we pick up the thing we take it back to Michel, who does its prep, ignoring people waving plastic and pointing at cameras on the shelves.

photo: linda, michel, fnac photoLinda is truly overjoyed with its unannounced - real - leather case and its genuine strap and its two batteries and - Michel, the fine guy - even throws in a roll of film so she can test it before her trip.

We ride the métro together to where Linda has to take the RER, for the long haul to her Cadillac Ranch. Though this part is not actually part of this week's 'club' meeting, I think it wraps it up on a positive note.

Linda and Michel at fnac, talking camera 'fine' points.

Nobody got sprayed with tear-gas and nobody got their mouths burned with onion soup. Nobody mentioned any words like 'Kodak' so I do not have to look anything up in the big red dictionary either.

All in all, it has been a fine session of the Café Metropole Club and Beaujolais Nouveau day in Paris. If it is ever over, I think I will have some lunch.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Next Thursday, 25. November, is Thanksgiving Day - but it is not an 'official' public holiday in any parts of Europe as far as I know. I expect the café La Corona meeting place will be as open as usual, so the time for your club's meeting remains from 15:00 to 17:00. Since I do not expect to see any turkey for lunch, I will most likely be on time. This does not mean you have to be. 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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