A Very Quiet Meeting

photo: patrick and kathleen

Patrick talks Kathleen out of plain Suze into
Suze with Cassis.

Follows Last Week's Uproar

Paris:- Thursday, 20. January 2000:- The grey has lifted a bit, to reveal both patches of blue and weak solar rays, which prompts a bus ride to today's club meeting. I do not get a seat on it and wonder whether the métro would have been better. No, weak sun is better than weak underground lights.

The bus is fast too, so I arrive on the Rue de Rivoli with a lot of time to spare - about 20 minutes. I am not taking any 'utility' photos today. The winters sales are on, so this is what I decide to do - get a new coat.

Thousands of others have the same idea; making advances along Rivoli haphazard. Once at the department store, progress is rapid. I zip up to the second floor and start looking for bargains. I can't afford these, so I look for cheap.

I need pockets. I have to look halfway tidy too. I find cheap, pockets, and tidy and then it comes down to color. Five choices take a bit of time. I've got blue on, so it's out. Green in the city is for lost hunters. Dither, dither; choose, pay and go.

This makes me late at the club, but I don't need any 'utility' photos of it either. This is my week 'off.' Inphoto: kathleen bouvier the door, shake the hands; Patrick says members are waiting. Think up excuses.

'Members waiting' are Kathleen Bouvier. She accepts the excuses. I get to admire her hair. She admires mine. We were both at the clip shops yesterday. The latest news from my salon is, not all Claudio's customers are happy.

According the Kathleen, at her hair salon, she is one of the unhappy ones too.

For once, Kathleen in focus, eyes open and unmoving.

For the record, I write 'Kathleen Bouvier' in the charter members' booklet without mentioning 'hair.' For the record, I decide to make the 'City of the Week' Hamburg, but I do not tell present members this because Kathleen has about five other cities in reserve.

I'll tell you right now there is no 'Food of the Week' because nobody has any. I'm pretty sure we've had wine as 'Drink of the Week' before, so it is out. My double-express café is out too, because there's been so much of it, and besides, I've - perhaps contrary to 'rules' - picked the 'City of the Week' unilaterally.

This leaves us with nothing to do but chat. There are very few other people with us in the 'grande salle.' So few, that the Corona's manager tries to become a new charter member. No, I'm just kidding.

But he does come over to ask about the Internet. He has no idea his café has become known around the world on account of the Café Metropole Club. But does it matter? La Corona is on the Quai du Louvre in Paris after all.

Oops. One alert member has pointed out it is 'Le' Corona. Maybe its signs say this; but my French dictionary does not contain the word as a noun or a name.

My Spanish dictionary does though: "corona f. Cerco de ramas, flores o metal - Tonsura de los eclesiásticos, Halo - Porció de plano comprendida entre dosphoto: club group photo today circumferencias concéntricas - Parte de un diente que sobresale de las encias", not to mention the "Corona austral" etc. In short: 'La Corona.'

For once, there is nobody with eyes closed, backs turned or jiggling. Today's club area without its member and 'Ed' the secretary.

Granted - when a new foreign word comes into French usage, it is usually written with the masculine article 'le' - as in 'le weekend' - but as far as I can tell, 'corona' is not a word in French usage - except on the front of the club's café.

As secretary of the club, I therefore declare that if you are in front of a café on the Quai du Louvre which has 'Corona' as part of its name, then it is where the Café Metropole Club holds its meetings, regardless of its 'le' or 'la.'

In club reports like this one, the café will remain named as 'La Corona' - because this is the club's 15th report and it is too late to change my old habits. Caramba!

I will now confess that today's meeting is the club's first without one single new 'real' charter member signing up. The café's manager doesn't count even if he is getting curious - and I don't know what he'd say if he knew members were being signed up willy-nilly in his 'grande salle.'

Both the manager and today's waiter Patrick express no surprise at the lack of members this afternoon. As far as the café's business goes they would just as soon close the doors and leave the key under the doormat.

photo: quai du louvreBusiness for cafés in Paris will pick up again just before Saint-Valentin, on Monday,14. February. However, both the café and the club will remain open during these doldrums.

Outside, on the Quai du Louvre, there are few doldrums.

During this lull, Kathleen decides to try out a new drink, called Suze. This is made of gentian - back to the dictionary - "Any of numerous plants of the genus Gentiana, characteristically having showy blue flowers" - wrong one - "The dried rhizome and roots of a yellow-flowered European gentian G. lutea, sometimes used as a tonic". A 16 % fortified bingo!

While Kathleen intends to have this elixir straight with cubes, Patrick suggests she try it with a dash of Cassis. This changes its color from yellow to something like iced tea, and Kathleen pronounces it fine; wanting to know its name.

"Suze avec Cassis" Patrick says, and thus it becomes the club's 'Drink of the Week.' I sniff it but I think my nose isn't working.

This is not a hyper-popular drink for Parisians, but is appreciated by migrants from the Auvergne and other provinces. So much so, that there are two other brand names for it: Salers and Aveze. The club's café carries all three brands, which shows what a classy place it is.

If you see 75 year-old ads for any of these painted on building walls throughout France, at last you will know what they are for.

Kathleen does not leave the club early as she thought she might have to. It is after five when she drifts out to the silky night on the Quai du Louvre.

A Metropole reader has requested a lot-price for souvenir Eiffel Towers, so I go to the bar to try and determine what this may amount to. It is not the place to do it - but La Corona does have a lot of them in different sizes, so it's a place to start.

I feel like a fast ride back to the office on the métro, so I take it from the closest spot. The loudspeakers are blaring something really loud.

When I get to the Châtelet quay for the direction to Orléans, the message blares out again. 'Garbel, kphifft, garble, strike,photo: suze & cassis kphifft, both directions, garble, find some other way home, garble, kphifft, merci et bon voyage!'

The other few people - at this time it should be a huge crowd - waiting for the next train all look like out-of-towners. Back I go the way I came, to find a big crowd on the direction La Défense platform. The trains are running very slowly. Not on strike, just very slowly.

With Cassis, Suze looks just like any other café drink.

Change at Concorde for Issy, change at Pasteur for Nation - big crowds all the way with all the north-south travellers doing the same round-about.

The 'line four' that radio France-Info was blathering on about this morning, is my line. Next time, if I come to the club on bus 38 then I will return from it on bus 38.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Reminder: there will be no regular Monday issue of Metropole on 24. January. But next week's club meeting will be reported as an update like this one; on the:

Thursday, 27. January 2000, rain or shine, members or no, is the date for the club's next meeting. If you cannot make it, please take the time to induct yourselves as 'virtual' members in your exclusive Paris club.

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 whether anybody besides its staff and your club's secretary are present.

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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