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 café-tabac.

Finally, what some members liked least about Paris, is "Leaving it."

Birthday Messages

Sending a Card

Email from Dana Shaw. Sent via the Internet: Friday, 15. September 2000:-

Hi Ric,

I sent a card for delivery tomorrow, of congratulations on the club's first birthday. I would have sent it later but am fearful my memory would let me down and I'd fail to send it at all. This way I can depend on yours.

All the best, Dana

How Did Members Know?

Email from Paul Babbitt. Sent via the Internet: Tuesday, 19. September 2000:-

Bonjour Ric:

At the unofficial club affiliate located in Bloomfield, New Jersey, USA, we are eagerly anticipating the first birthday of the club.

In fact, among our celebratory activities, I read the first club meeting report - an auspicious beginning. But I, and I would guess other readers too, was wondering how did those first members know there would be a meeting?


Orangina Ambiance In San Francisco

Email from Susanne Chaney . Sent via the Internet: Thursday, 21. September 2000:-photo: card, Jadine Brown

When the Club turns 50 in two weeks the bi-coastal four-pak will think of you and we will have to hoist some Pelfort or Orangina which I now have daily at lunch in San Francisco - if there isn't a coffee shop - and now there are lots of outdoor cafes on every corner.

On the date of the club party I will have lunch at an outdoor cafe at the local Emporio Armani store where the food and ambiance are actually quite French and they even have Orangina.

So 'Bon Anniversaire' - from PJ, Ken, John and Susanne - the bi-coastal four-pak - and assorted cats. Between the four-pak of us, we have an authentic cat six-pak.

Greatest In Cosmos?

Email from Bill Martin. Sent via the Internet: Friday, 22. September 2000:-

Dear Ric,

Bon Anniversaire!

A votre santé! May the joy you have brought to the lovers of Paris be reflected in your life. The passion for life and adventure that you encourage have made me, and I am sure others, lust even more to live in the greatest city the world has known. (Is there a greater city elsewhere in the cosmos?)

Greetings and encouragement to all residents of other countries, who love the diversity of the world's cultures and the great contributions of French culture. May the beauty, refinement, and excellence ever be an inspiration to the world.

Bill Martin

Are Children Allowed?

Email from Garth I. Moller. Sent via the Internet: Monday, 25. September 2000:-

Dear Ric,

I am not really sure whether I can consider myself a member or not, so I will send greetings to those present at the birthday celebration, and those present can decide whether they are from a non-present member, or a future member.


That was easy.

Let me note that this greeting is from St. Petersburg, Russia, and that my next chance to be present will probably be June or July of 2001.

Are children allowed? My wife and I married late - in life - and thus had our kids even later, andphoto: card, scott mckenzie so at the age when we should be grand-parents, we are parents. That means that the kids can not be left with their grand-parents when we go travelling.

If you ever read "Crime and Punishment," you may remember that it opens with a description of an unbearably hot summer day in St. Petersburg. Dostoyevsky was exaggerating. He did not know that he was, because, living in St. Petersburg, he did not know what a hot summer day was. I expect he had only read about them, and thought that what he was reading applied to St. Petersburg.

Anyway, I hope that those present for the birthday celebration have a good time, even if it means reading short weather notices about St. Petersburg.

Best wishes, Garth I. Moller

Thanks for Your Cards and Letters

Like the rest of the club, the members' emails reflect club membership. Two of the emails above are from signed-up members and two are from yet-to-be signed-up members.

When the club had 'rules' they stipulated that any human being was eligible for membership, so this includes kids of any age, even if the club no longer has 'rules.' I guess if they are really tiny, their parents can sign them in - but this is not a 'rule' either.

All of you, whether you've gone to the trouble of coming all the way to Paris or not, get my thanks for taking the bother of becoming members of Metropole Paris' Café Metropole Club for its readers in Paris - even if you don't know what it is.

Next Thursday's club meeting marks not only the club's first birthday, but it will also be the club's first meeting of its second year in existence. I hope you will be here.
signature, regards, ric

The greeting cards above has been sent by Jan and Dana Shaw, Jadine Brown and Scott McBride - from top to bottom. The 'free' cards are ©

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