'New Orleans Mardi Gras 'Zulu' Beads of the Week'

photo: group foto of the week

Getting rarer - having few enough members to fit into
the week's group photo.

Competes With 'Saint of the Week'

Paris:- Thursday, 22. February 2001:- For the first time in some time, today's club weather is not fit for sunbathing - it is fit club weather, especially for photos. Like it was fit for the photos of the beautiful cows yesterday at the Salon de l'Agriculture.

So fit, in fact, that the camera's batteries may die during today's club meeting. If this happens, there may be heavier gauntlets thrown down and more than just heavy-duty baloney flying around.

Like Patrick - today's 'Waiter of the Week,' often does - he whispers, "Il y a du monde!" - already waiting for me. He says this as if I'm late, as if new member records have already been set.

Don't members know this is supposed to be the 'February doldrums?' When I come like usual, readphoto: robin wagner the papers, doodle, twiddle my thumbs, hum to myself and make a café last from four until five.

However, as usual, Patrick has exaggerated. The new members are Robin Wagner and Bob Watkins, from New Orleans, Louisiana. When I ask the people sitting at the next table if they are 'club members' too, the man says "Non!" quite definitely.

Seasoned Paris visitor Robin Wagner does not seem to be sensory-overloaded.

And when they see Bob get up and haul out eight strings of genuine plastic and official New Orleans Mardi Gras 'Zulu' beads, they finish whatever it is they are doing in La Corona and get out as fast as they can.

Elizabeth Krekorian is already sitting at an opposite table with Louis Riethmann, from St. Louis - I swear this is true! - so of course, when she sees the 'Zulu' beads she knows the club is in 'action' and we rearrange the tables to suit the usual club layout.

It is Bob's first time in Paris, and he arrived thisphoto: bob watkins morning and is woozy from the flight. Robin has been to Paris before, so she has been alert enough to see two McDo billboards on the way in from Roissy. I don't think these caused the 'sensory-overload' Bob says he is having.

Marilyn Burke arrives, with her cheerful 200-watt New Jersey voice. When Liz says she and Louis have come to the club via the métro, Marilyn says, "Really slumming now - I came by bus!"

Dur to being in France for the first time, Bob overlooked the McDo billboards enitrely.

Louis - pronounced 'Louie,' which is the way you are supposed to pronounce 'Louis' in Paris anyway - not to be outdone, says, "I've used 24 métro tickets so far."

As if in explanation, Liz says, "My sense of direction doesn't work too well." When I want to know if this is underground or on the surface, Louis plugs the red sightseeing buses while saying they are too cold - even downstairs and inside.

Marilyn, who claims we've all been having a great-weather week, notes that it has not actually been freezing. This develops into a heated discussion about the difference between temperatures under 32, and metric ones, under zero.

Under '32' is colder than under metric 'zero.' Holy mother of pearl! I know I'm not going to win this one so I put on the authentic New Orleans Mardi Gras 'Zulu' beads, and everybody helps me with the shorter plastic ones - which I know I will eventually have to be cut off.

By this time - do I write this phrase every week? - the server-lady Linda Thalman has arrived. Shephoto: louis riethmann says she's late because of bad traffic, and parking far out of town at a free space she found by chance, and riding the métro in.

She hasn't brought any baloney, but she does 'throw one of her gauntlets down.' To find out what this is about, you have to read this issue's email feature, as well as last week's club 'report.' To find out even more about it, we'll all have to read the coming issue's new email feature.

Louis from St. Louis, beings today's 'Saint of the Week' to the club.

Oh, golly! I've almost forgotten Carol Pelletier's arrival, and long-time member Doug Fuss wanders in from Savannah, Georgia as if he only missed last week's meeting instead of several weeks' worth of tem.

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