'Cuba Libre' At the Club

photo: corona terrace

See all these people basking outside? None of them are club members of either sort.

Without Music, Without Salsa-ing, Without Rum

Paris:- Thursday, 16. March 2000:- If you asked me this morning about the weather, I would have said it didn't look good for salsa, music or rum. It looked like the damp greys were back, pushed along by a northwest wind.

After weeks of boundless optimism, the TV-weather news has finally settled down to endless pessimism. If the sun pops out for half a hour, everybody in Paris cheers for the unexpected freebie shot of 'D's.

But by the time I go to the club, there is a lot of light on the avenue and it is almost possible to hear the sap in the trees trying to push the buds out. This has already happened in some freak micro-weather zones in Paris; and thin impressions of green look out of place while the majority of trees are bare as driftwood.

Today I am in a hurry to get to the club - even leaving early for it - because I have a date with the server-lady, Linda Thalman, to talk about Metropole's implausible schemes.

Therefore I do not gad about the Rue de Rivoli, I do not seek new 500 year-old buildings on my route from the métro, and I do not pass any 'go's, get any hundred bucks nor go to jail, to wait for three rolls of the dice.

The blazing sun on the Quai du Louvre makes me think of other places to be going to or being at, but I plunge ahead - around baby-strollers, dogs, taxis, lost people looking at maps, hot semi-roasted chestnut dealers, street cleaners and all the other diverse ilk loitering in my path.

Near La Corona I come out from behind a sign advertising toothpaste for burnt-out gums, and surprise about two dozen people sitting on the terrace, sunning themselves like beached seals.

My silver-bullet camera does not make any click-clack noises but probably does look like an extra-largephoto: server lady, linda single-barrel shotgun - somewhat sawed off. But who notices this when it is pointed straight at them? "Who's this goof shooting us instead of the Louvre's Pyramid?" they probably wonder.

Bouquets, empty rum bottle, onion soup - behind all is the server-lady, Linda Thalman.

Monsieur the patron is herding thirsty customers into a campsite in a wind-shaded but full-sun terrace area, but he has time for a quick handshake - the only kind that's correct in Europe anyhow - and inside Patrick, the club's waiter, says there is a bouquet for me.

"For me?" I babble. It must be an Easter-egg kind of joke. I go through the bar and out the other door to shoot into the sun on the Amiral Coligny side. There are trees on the other side of the Seine with green fuzz on them.

The big 'salle' is divided into slices of light again. The server-lady is sitting just in front of the club's area, and she has a bouquet of yellow flowers - their name will come to me in a minute - in an Orangina glass on a white saucer.

As the non-'real' and non-'virtual' civilians leave the club area we move back there and have 27 seats to ourselves. Besides the bouquet she has also brought an empty bottle of 'Havana Club' rum, which she insists be made 'Drink of the Week.'

I can't think of why not, except for it being empty, and since she orders an onion soup, I think I shouldphoto: havana club agree since nobody else has brought any other empty bottles of anything else. Even though we've had it before, here it is officially - the 'Food of the Week' is onion soup. No arguments.

This is really not fair because it is before the club's official starting time. But Linda burns herself with the soup - I think everybody does this - so, no arguments.

We chit and we chat about the business we have to discuss and do not do any other club rituals, nor gossip about any people who are not present.

I think we cover everything, but we are surprised when we finish and see the time is about 16:00,and this is when we notice that no other club members have arrived.


Continued on page 2...
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