The Last Club Meeting of the Century

photo: club group in green rectangle

With the café La Corona full of civilians, club members are outlined in the green rectangle.

News from the 'Café Metropole Club'

Paris:- Thursday, 30. December 1999:- I can't say I'm terribly excited about the weather. The sky is low and it's leaking, and if it gets colder it'll leak sleet, slush or snow.

A lot of people are talking about the weather. Or at least they were, until it turned around and bit them. I've forgotten about the Seine being high until now, so I leave the métro at Odéon and dodge down the Rue Dauphine's narrow sidewalk.

Sometimes this is done in the street on account of wide people wearing puffed-out balloon-wear. The sky at the opening at Pont-Neuf looks like low slate. The bridge is slick and other people have come, like me, to see part of the Ile de la Cité under the swift and ugly brown water of the Seine.

The downstream park called the Square du Vert Galant is outlined by its fence, which is a bit above water. One of thephoto: club food boats of the Vedettes du Pont-Neuf looks like it is anchored offshore, but it is merely tied to its underwater quay.

The club's 'Food of the Week' is some sort of salad, without eggs in it.

The flotilla's office has a sign that says, 'no navigation today.' The expressway on the right bank is expressly for fish; so all of its cars, taxis, motorcycles, buses and speedy delivery trucks are on the Quai du Louvre, and they are in a bad temper about it.

It is rat-faced weather and it is in my face as I get to the Cafe Metropole Club's café, La Corona. The place is jammed with refugees from the elements.

Last week, the café's waiters said it would be - and this was when France was still 'soft.' The result is the club's area is nearly full of non-virtual non-members.

Within a minute I am joined by Berta and 'Scoop' Maginniss and we begin to take a cornered table, but before we can install another central one becomes free and I take it over before it can be invaded by non-members. It is a close thing.

Then the Kritz arrives and I ask him if he wants to be known as 'Markus' now. He says my spelling checker didn't ruin his Anatolian 'My Christmas' too much.

It is a bit distracting to have all these non-members around but I do not miss the arrival of Jill Mitchell who marches right through the hordes, pulls up a chair while telling me how much she loves Paris more than Toronto, which used to be known as 'the good.'

She says it is no longer known as such, but I say it can be 'City of the Week' because when Linda Gephart andphoto: group l->r, jack, scoop, mark, jill Jack Truitt arrive after fighting their way through the masses, they say they are from Houston, Texas - which we nearly had as 'City of the Week' last week - but it was beaten out by a 'Village of the Week.'

From left, Jack, Scoop, Mark and Jill; pondering their next move.

For this 'Of the Week' business, it is first come, first served - unless it is something we've already had, like Wisconsin or Minnesota. I do, though, have to know what is driving people out of Houston in droves, to Paris.

According to Jack, it is very hot there. This will not go down well with many 'virtual' members down under in Oz, who are writing to me to say that it is somehow my fault the weather is so bad there they can't get their barbies lit properly. They can eat their turkey cold.

Linda Gephart chides me for not answering her email. I am astonished. I look at the name and email address that she's written in the club's 'real' members' booklet, and neither ring bells. Her email name is sufficiently different enough to be unforgettable.

A later check proves she is absolutely right. My gosh! She slipped through my answer-all-emails scheme. Oh, the shame of it! And then she has the nerve to turn up in Paris to become a 'real' club member.

Well, no excuses. As club secretary, all I can say is the Café Metropole Club is not any kind of ordinary club. Although its members are not flaky, its secretary is.

Jill Mitchell wants to come to live in Paris and we discuss various plots for pulling this off. After I describe all the monkey business involved, she says that Toronto is not so bad. I have heard this too, but usually from Siberians.

Mark Kritz has a new and fancy digital camera thatphoto: group r->l, linda, berta he's brought along so he can show us postage-stamp-sized images on its tiny screen - of his rooftop lying in the street, six stories below his apartment on Montmartre.

Last Sunday I went past his corner, and changed my mind about walking the 15 metres to the top of the stairs of his street. If I'd done it, I'd have a beautiful photo of his roof too.

From right, Linda and Berta, who are playing their next moves.

Um - club news. Scoop Maginniss has a three-quarter full La Corona salad, so it is the 'Food of the Week' even if it has no eggs in it. Scoop has no 'horse of the week' for us out at Vincennes, nor any copy of Paris-Turf. There are probably logs on the track.

Berta has the same salad as Scoop without everything except lettuce, so it only comes close to being 'rabbit food of the week,' but rabbit food is not official club nomenclature - it is rather more like nihility.

Rather suddenly, all of the civilians and their pets, baby carriages, babies, and small children disappear. Just like magic they are gone.

Over at Trocadéro, Berta tells me, there are these fat cats that live in houses there and eat off paper plates. All of us; I really mean all of us, try to think up some other name for cat houses for about 20 seconds.

I forget to tell her about the queen or something that called the place a bottle-house once because Maréchal de Bassompierre liked his highlife there.

We have a long discussion about the 'best' places to see the New Years celebrations in Paris tomorrow night. At the moment, on account of the weather outside, this is a hard call to make.

Either the weather will be so bad everybody stays home and watches New Years in other places on TV, thus leaving poor visiting souls lots of room to stand close to the Tour Eiffel getting rain downphoto: linda gephart their necks until the fireworks show is called off on account of rain - or - Parisians will come out of their warm cubby holes and churn the Champ de Mars into a mudbath.

My suggestion of trying the Pont de Grenelle is, now I think of it, not a good one for walking to the Champs-Elysées afterwards. Better might be the Quai de New York, on the right bank. That is, if it isn't underwater.

A front-view of Linda, with a big smile for excessive flash-in-the face.

I see I have other interesting notes here about Air France hospitality in London and non-virtual people riding around Paris is real red buses, but neglected to note who said what.

Mark, who sometimes claims to be a coffee nut - ah, not 'nut' - but rabid, er, fan, says, "Four bucks a cup!" about Starbucks coffee, adding, "They don't keep it around; everyphoto: not club drink half hour they dump it and make some new!"

"Like McDonald's," says Linda Gephart, who has forgotten I forgot to answer her email.

It is after five and the club's meeting dissolves. Berta loses her gloves for five minutes and finds them in her bag, where she put them so she wouldn't lose them.

Orangina is not the club's 'drink of the week,' but may have a chance next summer.

The butterfly brooch that Susan Fuss lost last week, has not been found by anybody who works for La Corona - unless it was an earring and not a brooch. The 'butterfly' part is not in La Corona's lost and found department.

As you will realize by now, membership is still climbing steadily and the variety of 'Cities of the Week' is increasing as are the countries hosting these cities - in today's case, Canada - which I believe no one remembered to mention, except me, now.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Next Thursday, 6. January 2000, is a not-quite perfectly ordinary Thursday because it six days after New Years Eve - meaning it is the absolute first chance for possible 'virtual,' new, old and tryouter members to come to the Café Metropole Club in the - almost - new millennium.

For the actual new millennium, the club's first meeting will be on Thursday, 4. January 2001.

The café La Corona meeting place will be as open as usual, so the time for your club's meeting is still from 15:00 to 17:00. Be sure to come any time you feel like as long as it is at 15:00 and you are in Paris. If you are not, you should know the ritual by now for becoming a 'virtual' member instead. 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

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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