"Do You Think We're Too Loud?"

photo: eileen de micca, club group in mirror

Eileen fronts today's group photo, in front of the mirrors.

"Poof," He Said, "POOF!"

Paris:- Thursday, 25. January 2001:- It is a typical winter day in every sense of the three words. The sky is half blue, the temperatures are 'normal for the time of year,' and half of everybody in the city is marching in demonstrations today.

Fortunately for the half that aren't, many of the non-demonstrators include the city's métro and bus drivers, and the RER line 'A' drivers.

All the other RER lines and train lines are partially on demo duty, so Paris' traffic is more snarled than usual - so much so that the Quai du Louvre is nearly empty on account of some monster jam somewhere upstream.

This allows the winter sun to quietly wash the front of the club's café La Corona and inside it splashes slices ofphoto: marilyn burke bright light across the area reserved for the club meetings. Today, I make up my mind, the camera is going to 'beat the sun' or I'm going to beat it.

To offset the club's recent preponderance of new members from the San Francisco area, Marilyn Burke returns from New Jersey. She is followed by member Eileen De Micco, also from New Jersey, and Charles Eitel who claims to live in Tampa sometimes.

Marilyn Burke, outlined by today's sunlight.

This trio is closely followed by the Bay Area member-folks, Michelle Royston and Paul Rupert, who are both generally from Sausalito, California. Score - two for two coasts, and no tie-breakers in sight.

The meeting gets off to a fast start because nobody needs to sign the members' booklet again. Paul opens with, "I just saw 'les flics' giving a ticket to a Rolls Royce in the bus lane."

Compared to normal French cars a Roller is about as big as a double-decker bus, so maybe the driver thought he was supposed to be there. Paul has just come straight from playing golf - after changing his wet clothes - and Marilyn wants to know where the course is in Orgeval.

I wonder why nobody asks where Orgeval is. It is a place out west where I've been lost several times and I think its hundreds of round-abouts are its only memorable feature, although they all look exactly alike.

Today's group - all members - who introduce themselves to each other, even if they have already met before - are comfortable being together. Not to talk over 'old times,' but to tradephoto: charles eitel Paris experiences. For example, about the winter sales -

Charles says, "I bought two clocks, a two-pack of clocks - and a three-scissor set. Sets of things are cheaper."

Charles 'Two-Clocks-are-Better- than-One' Eitel.

Marilyn then tells us how she showed Charles how to buy a chair at Ikea. Michelle says they are really good chairs, really comfortable. Charles says he got a set of 100 candles too.

"But," he adds, "My wife said I bought a set of 100 candles last year."

Apparently the chair is a dilly but doesn't fit into his other household decor, so he's had to put it in the small room full of lots of still-wrapped sets of things - which doesn't even have a TV set of one.

"All I spent was 159 francs," Marilyn says, "I'm not rich like Charles." Paul thinksphoto: apero of the week Charles should sell his 'options' and become even richer. But these are currently 'down' at the moment and Charles thinks he can afford to wait 40 years until they come up again.

Marilyn is not interested in 'options.' She is interested in Elieen's story about getting engaged on the Pont Neuf sometime since the last meeting she attended.

Eileen shows me the engagement ring and tells me it has no diamonds, because her fiancée is a poor law student who will become nearly as rich as Charles by 10. August 2002, which is the date set for the wedding.

This good news - a new 'first' too! - the first Café Metropole Club member to get engaged on the Pont Neuf - and prompts Michelle to tell us about her boyfriend who doesn't speak English. I don't think this is a true 'first' because its easy to find boyfriends in Paris who don't speak English.

For a while the cub's conversation dips into an area of unprintable comments involving pushing matches - "A little poof" - and 'no class' - and 'road rage' - until the ladies get tired of it andphoto: michelle royston gang up on Charles, to try and get him to agree to go to cooking school.

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