The 'Chili' of the Week

photo: l->r, marilyn, charles, ulrich, ronda

From left, Marilyn, Charles, Ulrich and Ronda - in La
Corona's 'grand salle.'

Belated Weather Update

Paris:- Thursday, 10. May 2001:- Newspaper and TV-weather news snookered me last Monday when I passed on the forecast for 'ugly' weather. On Tuesday morning there were real sunballs all over Paris' sky and the thermometre shot up to room temperature.

Parisians and visitors crawled out from under the dark places where they were 'sitting out winter' and filled Paris' open spaces. Where standing room became short, people lay on the grass.

In Wednesday's editions Le Parisien announced spring's arrival with triumph. Tonight's TV-weather forecast is for more sun balls and highs in the area of 23 or 24 degrees. Leave your winter duds at home folks!

Upon my arrival at the club's café today I note that about six whole people are crowding La Corona's terrace, leaving about 40 other seats free. Admittedly it is a bit overcast, but it is not cold.

Inside the café is nearly deserted. Fine with me - not so fine for all our waiters. At least Patrick has the satisfaction of being the club's 'Waiter of the Week.'

Stalwart club members Marilyn Burke and Charles Eitel turn up first, right on the dot of 15:00. The first orders a small pot and the second orders a big 'demi-pot' of wine - sort of as 'chasers' to their lunch pots.

Today's first new member arrives fifteen minutes later. When Ulrich Diederich says he is fromphoto: marilyn burke Houston, Texas, a couple at another table say they are from Houston too, but do not bother to join the club, reducing today's new member total by 50 percent.

If Marilyn thinks Charles may be 'right' for New Jersey, she doesn't say so.

Ulrich was born in Leipzig when it was in East Germany. His parents moved west just before the wall went up, and he lived in Frankfurt and Munich before moving to the United States. Because Houston has been chosen before, this makes Leipzig 'City of the Week,' mostly because of its big messe.

The club's second new member this week is Ronda Barton who is from Austin, Texas - but there doesn't seem to be anybody else in the café ready to leap up and say they are from Austin too. This is okay because Austin has been the 'City of the Week' at least once before. See? Leipzig gets it.

Charles is saying he wangled some kind of new Jaguar for a weekend test-drive. He says, "With its four-wheel drive, you can go into a corner posted at 30 going 80 and come out at 220 kph, with two gears left to go."

To understand what this implies, I invite all readers and members to read this week's feature, 'What's Better Than Walking In the Rain? - for a true appreciation of wretched excess, as well as being a good way to lose a good-for-life French drivers' license on the spot.

Before Ulrich and Charles get into serious car talk, Ulrich mentions that, topographically speaking, Houston is built on a swamp. Ronda is equally forthcoming about Austin, saying it is built on Texas' only hills.

Ulrich, who has brought girlfriends on his five previous visits to Paris, is without one this time. "Parisphoto: ulrich diederich is not stressful, if you don't bring a girlfriend." Then he muses a bit before wondering, "Why would anybody jump off a bridge here?"

"My wife owes me a pool table," Charles says. This is to substitute for the carry-around dog he didn't get, and because he has to go to New Jersey and look for a house to live in next week.

Is Ulrich looking for a girlfriend in Paris? Is it spring? What's wrong with Paris' bridges?

On the way over from Châtelet, I said hello to one of the parrots in the pet shop I passed. Ulrich says, "We've got 400 cats in our program," in reference to the Houston animal rescue group he helps out with.

Meanwhile, Paris' prices are getting a going over. "Expensive - compared to Austin," Ronda says. "Fifty bucks a night is okay, but not for two months."

Ulrich thinks 900 francs a night is reasonable, especially if the bathroom is on the same floor. Obviously he hasn't spent any time in the ritzy flophouses near where I live in the 14th.

Ronda has a myth to relate. "People sitting on café terraces in the afternoon drinking wine are all drunks," she says.

Ulrich, who knows Austin is the most expensive place in Texas, says, "Americans can't just sit down without ordering something - they don't understand the idea of killing time."

onda, who knows Houston is an ex-swamp, says, "Only drunks do it."

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