"It Was Like Coming On a Stagecoach!"

photo: partial club group with mr ferrat

Almost all of today's members, including Mr. Ferrat,
the club's 'Waiter of the Week.'

The Club's First 'Kids of the Week'

Paris:- Thursday, 19. April 2001:- Last night's forecast for today was not positive. Temperatures would be 'average,' the TV-weather lady said, 'for February.' I immediately battened all the hatches in my airy apartment and wore a scarf to bed.

Then I prudently skipped today's first 12 hours.

But by the time I hit the street, it doesn't seem to be too grim at all. It's not raining, the sun is shining a bit in widely scattered patches, and the little wind there is doesn't penetrate my shirts, thick socks, sweater, scarf, hat and gloves while riding the métro down to Châtelet.

On the Rue de Rivoli it is really bright - this is a 'February' day? Am I over-dressed? The 'art squat' at number 59 looks positively twinkly, a bit like a Christmas tree in tatters.

The new city administration is even thinking of 'saving' it. If it becomes official, the artists will simply move out and find another illegal place to squat - 'art' oblige.

At La Corona, which has no sunbathers on its sunny southern terrace, Patrick the waiter excitedly tells me there are 'members' already waiting. "Il y a du monde," he says.

These turn out to be David Nutt, all by himself. It is not even 15:00 yet - there's still plenty of time forphoto: walter, david, corine plurals to arrive. After I hector David for a while, he admits to coming from Nottingham - where sheriff 'what's-his-name' was mean to, um, Robin Hood?

Walter laughs at a cheese story of David's while Corine writes her membership particulars.

I'm in a reckless mood - from overdressing? - so I declare Nottingham to be the 'City of the Week' even though David hasn't lived there for a couple of decades. He isn't totally familiar with the rituals of the club, but he goes along with this bit of ancient lore like a good sport.

He tells me he peddles French cheese online through a Dot.com he calls Fromage.com and he says people - especially in Japan and the United States - buy it like 'petits pains.'

"But not real Camembert through," he says, adding, "It's too fresh for the American health department." They have to be content with some pasteurized version - but even this customers get within 24 hours unless it gets cooked into gloop in a Texas warehouse.

While he's telling me about the 'Cheese of the Week' being 'Pavée du Chirac' - on account of General De Gaulle's 366 French cheeses now being surpassed, making France more ungovernable thanphoto: michelle, mark ever, Michelle Royston arrives - followed by Mark Kritz.

Although both are from around San Francisco, they are not together. Michelle even says she's from Palo Alto now, running a canteen for the filthy rich computer folks there.

Michelle and Mark study a Paris map for 'lost' sights.

About the ongoing subject, Mark says, "Northern California is 'hip deep' in good cheese. The rest of America is up to its neck in Velveeta."

I think this is the third time I've heard name 'Velveeta' this week after not hearing it for 30 years. It just goes to show that nothing, not even gloop, is really forgettable.

Corine and Walter Donius charge up to the club's tables, propelled by a momentum caused by 24 hours in the air, caused by a direct flight from Saint Louis, via Chicago, via London, to Paris.

Their flight actually started out with TWA, but by the time their plane reached Chicago, it had become an American Airlines machine. It's a good thing it didn't suffer a bankruptcy in midair.

Except for, "Virgin's wonderful, beautiful, new planes!" Corine tells me, "It was like coming on a stagecoach!" - which is more than good enough for a 'Quote of the Week.'

Corine wants me to plug Maryville University in West County, St. Louis, because it's her birthday tomorrow. Because I say readers can guess her age instead of me telling them, she gives me a Polish 'buzis' which I misunderstand as a French 'bisou' - but this is what it turns out to be. Corine is amazed it sounds exactly like the same thing.

"Where's Charles?" announces Marilyn Burke's entry, along with her daughter Maureen who has brought her two daughters from New Jersey - Erin who is three and Kelly who is five.

Even though the kids immediately collapse from the kiddie fatigue ofbeing with so many club members at once, theyphoto: two kid members become the club's 'Kids of the Week' simply because they are the first really little kids to ever join the club. I hope their mother tells them their lifetime memberships are free.

The combined age of these two new members is eight, and it shows.
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