Your Club Turns Two

photo: cafe la corona

The Club's café La Corona, on the Quai du Louvre.

First Birthday Is Next Thursday

Paris:- Friday, 29. September 2000:- Next Thursday, Metropole Paris' 'Café Metropole Club' will be one year old. This might not be exactly stunning news or accurate, because the first meeting in its history was held on Thursday, 14. October 1999.

Even if this seems to be a week short, the coming meeting will be the club's 53rd. The slight discrepancy has probably been caused by this year's bonus 'Leap Year' - which was on Tuesday, 29. February 2000 - but may also be due to the club secretary's notoriously confused fingers.

Just as at Christmas when I don't think of shopping until the January sales have nearly started, I have been a bit tardy with planning for your club's first - and it's only going to have one 'first!' - birthday.

But now that it is looming over me, I have brought the meeting and member list up-to-date; from the 1st meeting to the 52nd. Doing this has not been an easy task - think of the havoc caused by the 'Café Blot of the Week!' - but I have learned some interesting facts.

In just one short year, the club membership has zoomed up from a minuscule zero to 105 unique members. Ifphoto: beer and cafes I ignore my fingers, I calculate this to be one member more than exactly two new members per meeting.

This is all the more amazing when you consider that some meetings were graced with neither new members nor 'real' members. This was the case during five meetings and if I subtract these, then the average new-members-per-meeting climbs well above the 'two' mark.

A typical drinks layout at a club meeting.

Another important fact worth mentioning is that a number of bona-fide and already signed-up members - which used to be 'official' - have kept coming to meetings; often travelling across whole continents and vast oceans to do so.

Admittedly some of these have only dropped in from the 10th arrondissement in Paris, or braved the fickleness of regional public transport to make the trip all the way from the Cadillac Ranch, which everybody should know is in the Essonne department, wherever it is.

Less well-noted in the members' list are those who became members without knowing what they were joining. These were in the peculiar and rare category of people who had never read Metropole Paris and hadn't even heard of it before they were shanghaied off the street into attending a club meeting.

They may still be abstaining from reading the weekly magazine, but they are members for life just like all other regular members who have put their names in the official members' booklet.

I, myself - as the French often say - missed three meetings while I was 'hors continent' on a holiday, across a vast ocean and a whole continent. Both new and regular 'real' members came to these meetings, which were ably managed by the server-lady and member herself, Linda Thalman.

Of course we all know that as soon as I returned, the meeting following her stalwart stand-ins, was memberless. Like other such meetings, it was a mere hiccup in the life of the club and I got over my sulk after five days.

The sheer numbers of designated 'Drinks of the Week,' 'Cities of the Week' and 'Quotes of the Week' are far too many to list here, and almost amount to the number of different 'Waiters of the Week' who have served at club functions.

During the course of the year, members helped to form the essence of their 'Club in Paris.' At one time there were twophoto: card, dana & jan shaw different classes of membership, 'virtual' and 'real.' Then this mushroomed into a bewildering variety of sub-class 'titles' until one member pointed out that it was all hopelessly complicated.

Agreement with this opinion seemed to be universal and all complications were abolished. This has left only 'members,' divided into two major types: those who have not had a chance to attend a club meeting in Paris yet and those who have.

Both 'unofficial' and 'official' rules were also done away with. This was fairly easy to do because the 'rules' - such as they were - were made up week by week, but were never assembled into a single manifesto. Abolishing these isolated items wholesale was accomplished by abolishment, pure and simple.

Members who have trekked to the Thursday meetings of the Café Metropole Club in the café La Corona know that on their first appearance they are asked to 'sign-in,' by writing something in the neither 'official' nor 'unofficial' members' booklet.

This members' booklet also contains a short questionnaire, which some members diligently read and others ignore. Some members who read it do not answer any or some of the questions, and some who don't read it supply unrelated answers.

Either way conforms exactly to 'club philosophy.' "Paris is the city of our dreams," seems to sum up members' feelings.

If there is one thing most members do not like about Paris, it is "Dog merde." In a survey, this and plain 'dogs' were cited 1441 times by resident Parisians; beating out 'noise' by more than two to one.

American members often cited Paris smoke as being a nuisance, even though the club itself is relatively smoke-free even though its meetings are held in a cafétabac.

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