The 'Lost and Found' Meeting

photo: back, l->r, scoop, glen, bob, charles, nino, front l->r, berta, edna, pat, wendy

All of today's members who saw fit to 'find'
today's club meeting.

With Whistles and 'Paris Turf'

Paris:- Thursday, 7. June 2001:- At noon the sky is trying to drizzle in my street. This is a far cry from a week ago when it was behaving nearly like summer. At least we got a hint of what it could be like if it tried harder.

As the allies found out 57 years ago yesterday, June isn't always a good month to visit northern France. Of course Paris is usually warmer than Normandy but the weather was probably being 'historically' normal yesterday for the ceremonies at the invasion beaches.

Last night's TV-news showed the actor Tom Hanks promising to make the 'Longest Day' really long by turning it into a series on television. The 10-episode 'Band of Brothers' begins in a training camp in Georgia and ends at Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, after three years of WWII.

Meanwhile in Paris, various sorts of aircraft are being placed around town - at Trocadéro, Concorde and in front of the Hôtel de Ville - to sort of advertise the bi-annual aviation salon that begins at Le Bourget this weekend. On the way to the club I pass by Paris' city hall to see a helicopter without rotor blades parked in front of it.

Then I run the gauntlet of plant and pet shops along the Quai du Louvre to get to the club right on time. Patrick, thephoto: club wine jug, balloons 'Waiter of the Week' says there are no members present, perhaps because he has overlooked Edna and Bob Bradley.

You might think this is any old photo of club pots of wine, but is actually today's any old photo.

They are scrunched up in the corner by the window so I don't immediately see them as club members either. There is hardly time to think much about it because by 15:05 Berta and Scoop Maginniss have come in too, with Charles Eitel on their heels.

Right behind him are Pat and Glen Turpening from Cincinnati, Ohio. A few moments later they are followed by Wendy and Nino Mangini from Jacksonville, North Carolina, and I am in a proper dither explaining the non-necessity of completely filling in the club's suspended questionnaire, and trying to get everybody seated in a way so I can get around to get photos or whatever it is I'm supposed to do.

"I think we've found it!" Berta says. She and Scoop are taking the big leap of buying an apartment in Paris - and they've more than 'found it' because they will be signing the papers later this afternoon at the notary's.

They've picked a good location. Scoop says, "It's close to two racetracks." He means Auteuil and Longchamp. I think this should make Auteuil the 'Métro stop of the Week' for being so near the two of them.

From the right-hand branch of the club's tables, Pat and Wendy learn that they are both in the librarian business. This has nothing much to do with the concurrent mini-topic of lead-poisoning, but here it is in my notes.

"When I was growing up I was told not to eat the paint," Charles says. Scoop says "Eating pencils fixes you up for drinking wine."

This introduces the subject of Thomas Jefferson's attempt to plant French vines in Virginia. "I drink martinis," Scoop says, while admitting there are other distilleries in Virginia.

Everybody else rattles off the names of cocktails that can be made with bourbon whiskey, while not going so far as to switch from cafés or La Corona's wine pots.

Wendy has a great club-member story. She says she sent an email in March to say she and Nino were coming to a club meeting then, and they didn't come. This time, two or three months later, they've sent no email so here they are.

What happened was, since being 16 or 17 Wendy had wanted to visit Paris, but so much time went by, she says, "I was almost afraid to come - but it turned out to be everything I was expecting." This, and finding inexpensive fares on the Web, brought them back again quickly.

As usual at club meetings everybody is more or less talking at once, so there is no chronological order here. Earlier I have noticed that Pat has a police-type whistle on a cord hanging from her neck.

"This," she says, "Is for the pickpockets - and other emergencies." 'Other emergencies'photo: official club cheapo pens include Glen getting lost. This doesn't seem likely because they have made several trips to Paris, and this one will include a considerable tour of northern Spain and Italy as well.

The official photo of the club's two 'official' cheapo pens. The one on the right is now inkless.

Then the meeting takes an odd turn. One of the club's official cheapo ball-point pens runs out of ink; and the other one is temporarily disappeared. At the same time Scoop starts looking for his copy of today's 'Paris Turf' which he says was in his pocket.

Wendy says to me, about Pat, "Her email address is the same as my license plate," just as Pat is about to blow the whistle to alert everybodyin the café that the club's other cheapo ball-point pen is missing. Scoop is looking under the seats for his missing copy of 'Paris Turf.'

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