Time to Oil My Skates

photo: cafe le bougnat

Looking for authentic? Here it is.

Claude's Reading Room

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 4. September 2000:- When it happens exactly, I don't know. People slink off on their holidays and it takes a while to realize that there aren't so many Parisians around.

In summer, rain or shine, I can step out of my door any time on any day of the week, and not worry about getting rolled under some novice roller-folk from the wheelie shop up the block.

Just now, up on the avenue, I sensed rather than saw how Paris has changed from its sleepy, summer village-like self, and is roaring hell-bent for someplace again. Cars on the avenue are honking at each other, fighting for their own railways.

When this fades away a bit, a quick glance is all it takes to see that the stoplights have hung it up and it's okay to cross the avenue in the middle of the block. In summer it's so drowsy that it's hard to tell whether the traffic is moving or not.

Technically, I'm not drowsy. Laid-back a bit is all it is. Doing the 'Scene' column, I thought the Fêtes de la Seine are weeks off, or at least two weeks away. This weekend event sort of starts off the season, and then the full-tilt calendar gathers up steam like a snowball.

Surprise then, this weekend is next weekend. Between now and then, less than seven days. I'd better oil my skates!

Café Life

Unlike grass, hair grows all year long, if you have any. There is a style with men now - I don't think many women do this - to pretend to be bald. I thought this was something people avoided as for long as possible.

I find it hard to imagine getting up in the morning and shaving a whole head, from side to side and top to bottom. Try to guess the sort of mirror necessary to do a clean job on the back. Maybe there are extra-sensitive robot reverso-razors for doing this.

Not only does my hair grow all year long, I suspect it grows fast. The last time I went to see Claude the coiffeur I wanted an all-summer clip. As usual, things got out of hand and he left it longer than usual - giving it a head-start to fall in my eyes.

Last week it was in my eyes again. After a year, I refuse to be surprised every time I go into Claude's Salon de Coiffeur. As usual, it appeared that six persons were already waiting their turns.

As usual, again, it turned out five were spectators. I got a couple of the junk magazines he has and tookphoto: cafe on oberkampf a free chair, without much hope of reading them. But Claude's is the only place I might even get a chance to look at them, so I gave it a whirl.

Doesn't this look like drowsy summer? Last week it was - on Oberkampf.

When my consciousness resurfaced from the klatsch, Claude was singing the theme song from some '60's Italian movie, in French. He has a guitar - and an amplifier - down by the shampoo sinks, but I haven't heard him play it yet.

He saw I was out of it so he decided that I should know the origin of the magazines. As I mentioned, the magazines are junk, and I can't imagine anyone buying them.

For apartment buildings, we have two kinds of green garbage bins. The ones with blue lids are for papers and the regular ones are for everything else; including the plastic that wraps some of the papers.

We're supposed to haul our bottles down to the avenue and toss them into the green bottle-bulb there. The city is promising more containers for different classes of garbage, so we can all be extra ecolo.

Claude claims he gets all of his salon's magazines from the blue-top bins. Somebody must toss out these junk magazines wholesale, because Claude's selection is nowhere as good as my dentist's - where I sometimes have time to read two whole pages at a time.

Without warning it was my turn to sit in the chair and see everybody else in the salon in reverse. This was after a record-breaking short-time shampoo that left soapy water dribbling down inside my shirt to my shoes.

Whatever it was, the conversation was so interesting that Claude started with the hair on top first, which I thought was optimistic because sometimes he doesn't go near it.

I decided to watch him this time. After doing half the top he took a couple of random slashes at the sides. In a blur he decided he was finished and ended up with a bit of a bonus razor job on my beard - which I like because the kitchen scissors I use are not very handy for doing this.

The conversation shifted and while I wasn't paying attention Claude managed to bomb me with spray-glue. Then he got the hair on top to stand up straight - like a five-centimetre high brush-cut. It was too late to do anything about it.

I checked the floor to see what the score was, and there was hardly any hair on it. Oh no, I thought, I can't afford a long haircut. With hope, I asked him if he hadn't swiped some of my ex-hair. Maybe swept some away while I was elsewhere?

With the glue-job, I couldn't tell what he'd done. When I tried to pay - mostly for the entertainment - he couldn't make the change. He said, "Pay me the 20 francs later."

Later when? I found a ten-franc piece and gave it to him. "How about," I suggested, "I justphoto: le mecano, oberkampf come in and pay 20 francs every time I come this way; like a subscription?"

Everybody immediately began to argue the pros and cons of this idea. Just keep paying Claude a little bit every day and come in anytime for a clip. Sort of like having a season ticket.

The Mécano is just as dozy - also on Oberkampf.

During all of this time, several other people had made prolonged exits. One lady had run a 15-minute monologue going out the door. This involved at least six re-entries.

I got to the door and turned around. "Today only," I said, "The shortest 'exit of the day' - au'voir!"

Without turning back even once I crossed the street to the café-tabac and put a small wager on the Loto. Only 24 hours to wait before becoming a 32-million franc millionaire. With a goofy haircut!

Metropole's Services

All three of the firms mentioned below have chosen Metropole Paris for affiliate association for much the same reasons as you've chosen to read it. Maybe you only look at the week's new posters, but you get the idea.

By offering their services this way there are no banners, logos, flashy animations or shockwaves to overload the tranquility of this magazine, while you search for its sillier parts.

These firms are not advertisers in the traditional sense. If you patronize the services or purchase the products offered, the resulting benefits from the links will help Metropole to stay online. Being able to get regular haircuts from Claude will also benefit his non-TV talkshow.

Health Care In Paris

After planning your visit to Paris long in advance and then finally getting here, the worst thing to happen is coming down with some kind of 'bug.' HighwayToHealth offers a service that allows you to seek medical aid here almost as easily as if you were at home.

HighwayToHealth has fashioned a 'city health profile' for Paris, which can give you information about local health services, including the ability to make appointments for health care.

Added to this is a full line of travel insurance, not just for Paris and France, but for the whole world. You can take care of this before you leave home, so be sure to check out all of the 'HighwayToHealth' services for travellers.

Don't Carry Your Boules Home

The game of pétanque - or boules - can be played anywhere, almost anytime, by nearly everybody. Any old bit of ground can be used as a playing field - as you might guess if you've seen the game played around Paris.

Regular boules are made out of metal. You can buy these in France, butphoto: le quartier general they are a bit heavy to carry around in your baggage. 'Petanque America' imports France's Obut boules and can ship them to you anywhere in the Americas.

Three for three in doziness - the 'HQ' on Oberkampf.

Petanque America's shop also has boules for children, plus books about the game and its short list of rules, in English. Let Petanque America do the heavy work for you while you shop around for small bottles of perfume and scarves as light as feathers.

Online Paris Hotel Reservations

'Bookings' Paris hotel reservation service permits you to get a preview of hotels in Paris, enabling you to choose your Paris accommodations easily, well in advance of your arrival.

The Café Metropole Club's 48th Meeting

Last Thursday's club meeting was attended by four brand new members; two from California and two from London. From Chico, Professor Greb returns to Metropole's pages, to announce Darlene's all-year 50th wedding anniversary.

If you skipped Thursday's update, you didn't miss all the wonderful 'Quotes of the Week' I neglected to record. The 'report' therefore contains what little I did remember.

New readers can look at the fairly new 'About the Club' page, if they are interested in learning more about this magazine's club for readers in Paris. Actually, anybody is allowed to look at it.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.36 - 6. Sept. 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'The Millennium Horizon.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Free José Bové!' This issue had two features, titled 'Nearly Naked In Paris' by Kathleen Bouvier and 'Diary of a Fête - The Seine.' There were also two email features, 'More Mouffetard' from Mark Kritz and and roundup called 'Paris, Nevada Revisited.' The 'Scene' column was headlined 'The Beginning of Fall 1999.' There were four new 'Postersphoto: rue charlot; 13c of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Welcome To Paris Surf.' This was not the same as the surfing on the Gironde yesterday.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.36 - 7. September 1998 - The week's Café Metropole column hinted at less doziness with the title, 'Paris Goes Event Crazy.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Johnny Gets Rained Out On Friday,' which didn't happen this year. This issue had one feature, titled 'The Aéro Club's 100th Birthday Party Idea.' A photo feature was called 'Photos: This Year's Last Tango in Spain.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' again and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Nice Tan!' This year; not so.

Metropole Paris' Exclusive Solo Countdown to 31. December 2000:

This countdown - which was suspended for the duration of August - remains suspended. If you are reading this, you will cheer this move towards brevity. If you aren't reading this, you should be because it's short.

For those who are skipping the above recommendations, there really are only about 118 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium. For really picky readers, this figure is on target. On account of this section being kind of turned off on account of August, and now September too, you probably won't care that 249 days have gone since New Year's 2000.
signature, regards, ric

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