'Surprise' of the Week

photo: kathleen bouvier

One of the Café Metropole Club's very first members -
in person!

Club Gets New Official Pen

Paris:- Thursday, 5. July 2001:- It is staying warm while the fierce storms predicted by the TV-weather news do not quite materialize while I am outside to get drenched by them. Other people are not being so lucky, but I don't think I know them personally.

Like last week, there are not many other riders in the sweltering métro during the ride downtown to Châtelet. Getting out, I decide to take a chance and see if my one-time 'handy' exit is open again, and handily, it is.

This puts me on Rivoli on the left side but doesn't help my indecision about whether to go along with all of its bargain hunters or take the old back streets to the club. I take Rivoli and wish I hadn't because everybody seems to be stopping in their tracks without reason or any advance warning.

This route doesn't net me any photos of posters though because they are not on Rivoli today. I take the back streets back to the Pont Neuf, and there are no posters near it either.

Oddly, there isn't much traffic on the Quai du Louvre and it's possible to see the browsers gliding by the bookstalls on the other side, and in the distance, a small army is marching across the Pont des Arts, like ants with colorfull shirts.

In La Corona no less than six tables in the club's area are occupied by civilians, but they makephoto: others leftovers way for me - and wonder what the heck I'm doing photographing their leftovers when they leave.

The photo the civilians were puzzled about. Note the portable water container.

I can't tell - I may need the photo, in case this is going to be another no-member meeting. I make some notes about the civilians too. One asks if 'the service is included' and the couple closest to me try to figure out what 15 percent comes to, then borrow one of the club's pens to use as a calculator.

"Here's a 20 - you owe me ten. We need 160 francs." By 15:11 they have this all figured out and up they get with all of their little back packies, and the leader glances around to see if there's been any passports left behind.

I read a Cinémathèque Française brochure then switch to the RATP's 100th edition of its paper, 'A Nous P@ris.' I don't get a long way into this before I sense a member approaching. I look up and it is - it is - the 'Surprise Member of the Week!'

'Surprise' because it is an original 'charter' member, from back in the days when the club was still so new that it had nonsense like rules and 'charter' members.

It is no less than member number eight, who joined during meeting number one on 14. October 1999 - but didn't sign thephoto: club zen cobra pen members' booklet until the following week. For the first meeting she came early, and should have tied for member 'number one' spot, at least.

She hasn't been present since the 21st meeting on 2. March 2000, when all the 'rampaging farmers' joined the club on account of the good food at the Salon de l'Agriculture, and Dr. Leslie introduced the notion of the 'deep-fried Mars bar' from Glasgow.

Seeing Kathleen Bouvier isn't just a surprise, it is the 'Shock of the Week.' She says I should have remembered that she and Marcel intended to quit the Place de la République area, for the bucolic pleasures of the bourgeois life in Versailles.

"We were told," she says, "That we wouldn't just zip into Paris any old time, and I didn't believe it."

I can believe it, because I used to live out that way. But not coming to Paris for 15 months from Versailles - it's only a short train ride, or on the RER - I don't think anybody who lived there could stay away as long as - for as long as Louis XIV used to, for example.

I tell her she's only just missed seeing another 'charter' club member, Heather Stimmler, by only three months. These original members are nearly colliding, as if they were on two different freeway overpasses of the same cloverleaf.

Well. Kathleen has been having a good time in Versailles - without actually visiting Louis' place every day, but seeing its front gates most every day from her street. As a 'make-good' she returns a book she borrowed fromphoto: club drinks, full me - one I thought I'd lent to the server-lady, Linda Thalman.

[It's okay, Linda - you don't have it after all - you can quit looking for it.]

Almost like the 'old days,' but without my usual wintertime café.

And Kathleen has a splendid gift for the club. It is an example of 'cobra pen art' that she thinks may represent a Zen version of a cobra. "Possibly," she says, "To protect the lub from horrible elements."


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