'What Demo Was That?'

photo: l->r, diane, nancy, byron, kathleen, allan

Today's club members, from left to right: Diane, Nancy, Byron, Kathleen and Allan.

Paris' First Daffodil Sighted!

Paris:- Thursday, 24. February 2000:- I made a foolish error. A couple of days ago I wrote to a 'real' club member, saying I needed 'a spark.' Around noon today, I found some of my wires sparkling - the vital ones! - and could not get a quick fix or any other kind.

It might only need a turn of a screwdriver, but if I get it wrong with my 94 year-old wiring I am on the ground floor and my landlord lives upstairs over me, and there are several floors of neighbors above him. So I pulled the plug on the whole thing.

With this on my mind I arrive at today's club meeting, under grey skies and temperatures above normal. As usual I have come a bitphoto: club during drink early 'in case of I don't know what' and to take a few grey-day photos on the way. This makes the camera's battery signal flash the message: "I'm nearly empty, so watch out!"

'Fine,' I think, 'No power in the shop and now there's going to be no club meeting pictures to not download and not put online with no club report today.'

This is a typical 'during the club' drink - a pot of beaujolais.

'The show,' as some maniac said, 'Must go on.' I paste on as much grin as I can bear, and trade the handshakes all round going into La Corona. The patron says, "A member came yesterday," and gives me a card. The patron says another card has been left with a message on it. This one, I forget to get.

Allan Pangborn comes in while I'm arranging the club's members' and reports' booklets. I give him back his Champagne photos and we settle down for a two-hour chat, with me sort of hoping Mr. Smith from Tennessee will show up, but deep inside I know he won't because it is that kind of day.

But not quite. Nancy and Byron Pinckert edge their way up from the vicinity of the bar, past the ferns, and say the magic word, which is 'Metropole.'

"Welcome to the club!" I babble. 'Just my luck; brand-new members on a day of shambles. They'll think I'm the king of the boobies.'

To prove I'm not - Byron has brought his Café Metropole Club membership card - but hasn't filled it in. I offer to counter-sign it and date it if he will do it, and another 'club first' is achieved: the first club membership card verified by the club's secretary and 'Ed.'

But my fears don't pan out. Kathleen Bouvier waltzes in with her 'spark' and she is followed by Diane Rushing, who became a new member two weeks ago. Today's club meeting has what amounts to a comfortable 'house.'

So we lift the curtain on the 'City of the Week' which turns out to be Long Beach, California. Byron Pinckert verifies for me that Long Beach is so called because it has a long beach, which is easily as apt as 'Boondocks' having both a boon and a docks - which has nothing to do with Long Beach.

Actually, the Pinckerts do not live 'on the beach' but on a canal; which is one of many, "Like Venice," and yes, like "The other Venice, a few miles north."

None of this may be as actually funny as I'm trying to make it sound, but if you are reading this - the dateline above is correct which means I have craftily secured emergency electricity and just scraped up enough photos off the bottom of the batteries to get by.

The Pinckerts also have a legitimate 'Question of the Day.' One of my jobs as club secretary is to answer these, so I am glad when new club members remember to ask them.

"What was that demonstration we saw near Invalides yesterday?" is the question of the day. "We didn't seen anything in the papers about it."

I rewind my memory as fast as it will go. The nearest answer I can get - but I get a hint first: "They looked like meatpackers and they had red signs with 'F.O.' on them."

'Aha!' I sort out hospital workers from postal workers from firemen from parents-teachers-and-students, huntersphoto: ->r, diane, nancy and dog-catchers; it was, "Hospital workers," I say in triumph. Explaining the 35-hour work week is not quite so successful, as well as being pretty boring.


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