Hello! New Millennium!

photo: cafe rendez vous, denfert

The safe port on a New Years Day storm.

Goodbye Rotten Old One

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 1. January 2001:- Last week's prediction of warmer temperatures changed yesterday afternoon's near-freezing levels - to merely cold rain for the New Years Eve party. Today, the forecast calls for a wildly-optmistic high of 10 C in the Paris area.

The coolness didn't stop an estimated half-million revelers from seeing in the new year on the Champs-Elysées, but they were less than the expected 800,000.

It stands to reason then, that the heat seems to be off in my apartment - because I was expecting it to be functioning warmly like it was yesterday, last year, in the last millennium.

In my desire to keep you informed of what is really going on here, I think it is time to put on my scarf, hat and gloves and go outside to get the real facts - and to resume Café Life.

Café Life

Monday, 1. January 2001

In my street, and especially on the avenue, it is obvious that the wind from the south hasn't brought the heat wave from Africa yet. It is not raining but it was and it feels like it will again.

The ever-open café Rendez-Vous at Denfert is not only open but it is full at the bar and the dining areas are full of Parisians tucking into oysters, which are a well-known cure for dull heads especially if accompanied with sincere amounts of Sancerre.

Despite the bus station atmosphere, it is damplyphoto: nut machine, le bouquet cozy even if it is nearly as noisy as a blacksmith's atelier. I string out my double-express as long as my leg feels comfortable before getting back on the avenue to face into the damp breezes from the south.

Just as I near my street a fellow stroller addresses me. He knows about my leg. He claims he is locked out of my third-floor neighbor's apartment - his brother's - and on top of it, his car's battery has died on him. Can I tide him over with 200 francs until later this afternoon?

The trusty nut machine of any year.

Well, no. I haven't got 200 francs. The man doesn't seem to have one of McDo's paper cups for collecting change - and he does know about my leg.

I guess this is bona-fide enough to 'loan' him 100 francs even though I've never seen him before in my life. This will give me something else to think about instead of my heatless radiators for a couple of hours.

Later - the heat came back on, but there is no sign of the neighbor's 'brother' with the 100 francs. It may have been the ripoff of the Millennium.

Part-Time Job In the Laundromat

Although Tuesday is my substitute for a weekend, I often do my laundry on this day. The laundromat is right across the street, so it's easy to see if all of its machines are free or only some of them.

These robust industrial machines are much quicker than domestic ones, and the dryers are absolutely essential as well as fast. This means I throw the stuff in a washer and return to my place and answer a few emails, and then go back and put the duds in a dryer.

When I got back to do this transfer there was a young fellow there taking a ton of stuff out of a dryer. After wrestling with folding some it, he asked for a hand. The fish lady who sometimes comes over from the marché never asks for help, but this guy had a bunch of tablecloths.

These were from a restaurant up the street, and they had some holes and marvelous stains on them - very much like some of my own stuff.

He wasn't an expert folder either. What a pair! He kept letting go on the 'stretch' part, and I kept almost falling over when he did. But he said the tablecloths would be ironed in the restaurant, so the folds didn't matter much.

He offered me a lunchtime café in Le Mauritius, which handles Indian Ocean-type food from the islands of Maurice and Réunion - which also explains the spicy stains if not the holes too. The place is always full in the evenings, with the quarter's exotic and hot-food fanciers.

Get On the List!

One fine day some time ago when Paris was drowsing through one of its holidays, I paid a visit to the voter registration office in my local city hall - the Mairie of the 14th arrondissement. I had the whole office to myself and the registration took about three minutes.

I'm pretty sure this was followed up with some sort of 'you are on the list' document, which I was supposed to guard with my life. I filed it where I file everything else - in the mis-named 'house charges' drawer.

I recently got another letter - which I noticed again on Friday - which said that voters on the 'European list' were not necessarily on the Paris 'municipal list,' which would be locked up sometime on Saturday, 30. December.

Well, going to the Mairie is handier than finding anything in my 'house charges' drawer so I put on my coat, hat and gloves and gathered the necessaryphoto: fiat 500 of the year residence-proofs together and went over there.

The Mairie didn't seem busy. Signs posted on every available bit of wall space said, 'voter registration, bureau 262.' I took the elevator up to the second floor and its hallway was empty.

Not the tidiest, but here's the 'Fiat 500 of the Year.'

'Bureau 262' is down at the far end near the stairs. Beyond the doors to the stairway landing, unregistered voters were lined up outside the bureau's door and the line of them disappeared down the stairs - maybe all the way down to the street floor.

One glance made me decide to go home and take a serious look at my 'house charges' drawer. It'll be my first municipal election in over 30 years and I don't want to miss it.

If all Europeans who are eligible to register do so, they will total about three percent of the voter's list. TV-news showed several in the process of registering and also showed a few campaigning politicians looking for foreign support.

Eight years after the European ruling that community residents have a right to vote, France has finally decided to take a chance on it for next spring's municipal elections.

Parisian Buzz-Saw Angst

My date to get the cast removed from my right leg was on Friday, and I was on time for it. Several other people were already there before me, also waiting to get their casts removed in time to dance on New Years Eve.

When my turn came up and I saw what looked like a circular saw attached to an industrial-grade electric toothbrush, the nurse, in order to reduce my angst, said it might tickle. It didn't tickle, but it didn't hurt either.

It was a bit like the bite of chocolate out of a 'Kinder Surprise' that reveals the 'surprise' inside, which in this case was my leg - reappearing for the first time since Saturday, 2. December.

On the first test step two things were noticeable. My leg was a lotphoto: cast saw lighter, and it didn't work too well. The doctor was very happy with the 'after' x-ray. To me, it looked worse than the 'before' one - and in fact, the doctor said the kneecap was still fractured.

Not like at the dentist's, and not like a chain-saw either. Bizzzzz!
Continued on page 2...
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