"Don't Light Your Thumbs On Fire!"

photo: l->simone, ira, janet, paul, kathleen

Incomplete set of members - from left: Simone, Ira, Kathleen, Janet and Paul.

A Deluge of New Members

Paris:- Thursday, 13. January 2000:- If it is cold, if it is damp, if a wind is giving both extra prickle today, it is surely my fault. But it is not until I get to the Café La Corona that I find this out.

But first, as soon as I get inside the door, I have to take the café's 'stock photos of the week.' Each week, because 'Club News' is divided into two - one page of ho-hum PR razzle and one page - today's page! - is sizzling, actual, real, new 'news' - I have to get enough photos to cover both pages.

Today is the day I get La Corona's staff to dig out from where it's hidden, the wire 'egg presenter.' This requires a phone call to hidden management depths, and Patrick, the club's waiter today, volunteers to fetch the hard-boiled eggs from kitchen.

Both are produced. Not here, but next Monday, for the first time ever in the history of the Café Metropole Club at the real Paris café La Corona, the photo of the 'egg presenter' will be revealed in all its stunning glory!

Alert members will remember that directions to the club's area within the Café Laphoto: corona food Corona, for an uncountable number of weeks, have included the instruction to 'turn right after the egg-thing on the bar.'

Today's 'Food of the Week' is onion soup again. It is an onion soup day if ever there was one.

This instruction was suppressed in Monday's directions, because I came to realize that there is no - was no - 'egg-presenter' on the bar. With the restoration of this long-absent artifact, this vital instruction is re-instituted. Remember, if you see this 'egg-presenter' gizmo on the bar, turn right, right after it.

Whew! Patrick is excited too. It is not quite 15:00, and two club members are already in the 'big salle.' As I follow Patrick - to the right - into the 'salle' I pass a couple and quickly say the club's location is at the rear of the room.

Their stunned look marks them as civilians I have mistaken for club members, and Patrick introduces me to the real ones, brand new real charter club members, Simone and Ira Poretsky from San Francisco, California.

We all move to the club's area and are almost immediately joined by two more brand-new real charter club members, Janet Rider-Babbitt and Paul Babbitt from Bloomfield, New Jersey.

The usual beginning-of-club confusion follows, which means by the time all the coats, hats, scarfs, gloves and other assorted arctic-wear are deposited, we find ourselves spread over eight tables, about 11 metres apart from end to end.

There are many empty tables and seats between us, and I use my club secretary's minor powersphoto: corona cognac to close the gaps. Hardly is this done when long-standing charter member Kathleen Bouvier traipses in and fills one of the gaps.

Right here, on the right, today's 'Drink of the Day,' is cognac. Also a day for it.

This is a big day for the club regardless of the weather, because another brand spanking new real charter member joins us and it is Bill Dunlap from Aix-en-Provence and points west.

Although not mentioned in a Wednesday, 28. May 1996 feature about the Rue Montorgueil, I met Bill on it. I watched him eat a sandwich in a park near the Marais, and this is the first time I've seen him since then.

To wrap this up and round it off tidily, another long-time now-you-see-him now-you-don't charter member arrives and of course it is Mark Kritz from Santa Cruz, which is also in California.

Everybody talks at once because there is 'no governor' and a club secretary has no authority. I hear, "Suddenly I found myself on the Perifreak! and the Eiffel Tower was right over there!" says Ira in one ear and in the other I hear, "Some tacky souvenir for five bucks - like a miniature guillotine," from Paul.

Before I forget - why it is 'my fault' about the weather today - Paul wrote from Bloomfield to ask about January weather in Paris. I replied it could be balmy or cold.

And Simone wrote from Christmas-warm San Francisco to ask if she could wear her fur coat in Paris without having paint poured on it. I suspected this was a trick question, so I replied 'yes.' A couple of days later I noticed every second person in Paris wearing a fur coat, so I sent a definite 'all clear' to San Francisco.

Result: Paul and Janet are dressed like ritzy penguins for today's weather and Simone is well-layered in wraps too, but without the fur coat - can't be too careful! Simonephoto: corona cidre later says the only place she can wear it is in the backwaters of Québec, somewhere around Rouyn-Noranda.

Today's present club members are very talkative and I miss several hearty guffaws and chortles. I ask Kathleen if she has her recorder and she does, but its batteries died in New York she says.

Cidre, on right, only makes 2nd place as today's 'Drink of the Day.'

Bill says, "If you cut x-amount of people out of Saint-Germain, they are in Aix," which he pronounces 'X,' which makes me think I should get a hearing amplifier or some sort of filter. As opposed to dead, Ira says he is, "Living in Paris."

One side of the club has a discussion about the dates for Orthodox Christmas - now past - and New Years - coming up. The confusion is about the dates of the 'Eves.'

The other side of the club is discussing 'funny money' - how big-denomination coins slip through your fingers and make holes in your pockets and budget.

Kathleen says she has a big jar full of 'yellow money,' which is centime pieces. Paul says a 20-franc note looks like 'money' even if it isn't worth much. But apparently worth more than a 100,000 lira note, which he found.

On the question of 'food wars' we get to bananas and Ira says they should carry stickers with 'You Have It Made' on them. Then he adds, "Don't light your thumbs on fire!"

I think it has something to do with the packets of 250 cm-long cigarettes that appear about then. Everybody except - these exceptions in France! - Janet, Paul and Mark, tried to smoke three of these at once, altogether.

But long before this, onion soup became the club's 'Food of the Week,' much to Patrick's delight. Paul tried a cider and Ira had a cognac, which makes choosing the club's 'Drink of the Week' difficult, but Ira has more than one cognac so I guess cognac must be this week's 'Drink of the Week.'

Somehow Ira and I find out Paul teaches political science so it is logical to ask him what 'liberal' means these days.

In horror, he days, "This is work for me!" in reply to Ira's, "You couldphoto: corona dog probably explain..." Bill rescues himself from this by claiming a five o'clock meeting across the Seine even though it is not five yet and Mark takes his leave to get away from the fumes from the half-yard-long 'slims.'

This dog is not the club's 'Dog of the Day,' but the café La Corona's dog of everday.

In return for Paul asking Patrick to bring him 'le souvenir' instead of 'l'addition,' Bloomfield, New Jersey becomes the club's 'City of the Week.'

About its location, the nearest we can get is that it is about a 90-minute drive from Princeton, depending on whether you go 80 kph or 133 kph. Or whether it is daytime or nighttime, or whether you are coming from Queens or not.

New membership rocketed up this week - and the variety of 'Drinks of the Week' is still increasing. Since the club meetings are held in a Paris café-bar, there is a fair scope for adding several dozen more.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Next Thursday, 20. January 2000, is the second perfectly ordinary Thursday in this year of 2000, because Orthodox New Year will be past and the date for the Year of the Dragon is still somewhere in the future.

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, undepending on rain, sleet, wind, snow or shine.

Come any time you feel like as long as it is not much later than 15:00 and you are in Paris. If you are not present and do not know the ritual for becoming a 'virtual' member, you should read the regular Monday PR page for your club 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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