'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 club from horrible elements."

It is a heavy otto. It has no pocket clip, but the snake's jaw can almost hang off an ear, if I slant my head exactly right. It's the very thing to give the club some exotic style and tone.

After Kathleen has a semi-emotional reunion with Patrick, who was the original 'Waiter of the Week,' she tells me another reason for being at the club today is because she's moving to some motel on Technology Street in Irvine, California.

As distressed as I am to hear this, it still makes Irvine the club's 'City of the Week,' even though it was a ranch until quite recently. Don't ask me how a ranch can have a 'Technology Street.' All I know for certain is it isn't going to be anything like the Avenue de Paris in Versailles.

Kathleen is looking forward to the move because she is taking all of her French treasures with her, even though she says she is not going to be living in a ritzy suburb called 'Turtle Rock.'

Although I am not a great fancier of Versailles, I think it is great news that a 'charter' club member will not have to live in a place with a zip code like 'Turtle Rock.'

But if any new members do turn up from there, I'm sure it can become a 'City of the Week' just like any other place. So while it isn't Versailles, I'm not running it down sight unseen.

Since new members have decided not to sign in today because they are engaged with Paris' summerphoto: kathleen, patrick sales, Kathleen and I are allowed to have a good natter about other members who are not here today either.

Kathleen tries out her Versailles' accent on Patrick - the club's original 'Waiter of the Week.'

So much so that I forget to write any more notes in the 'reports' booklet, until I notice a Rolls Royce van with purple fenders and a bright orange roof out on the Quai du Louvre passing by the café.

After the meeting ends we walk east together on the Quai du Louvre, to where the summer sales are happening at Samaritaine. While most Parisians are fighting their way home through the evening rush hour, Kathleen has picked a perfect time to find some 50-percent off goodies to take to her new home, along with her cat.

One final note for Kathleen's about-to-be new neighbors in Irvine - she is finished with the 'bourgeois' phase of her life.

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

All of the expired 'rules' and other so-called 'information' is now history, but you can still catch up on some of it by reading the 'About the Café Metropole Club' page - which will also tell you where to find the club in Paris at least - and the day and time of the meetings.

If you have memorized this already, it could still a good idea to look at this page. It also contains a virtual replica of the club's membership card which is not an item to be found on other Web sites.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

The next Café Metropole Club meeting in Paris will be held on Thursday, 12. July, which is the day known as Saint-Olivier's Day. This special day will be one with an ordinary moon. This will not interfere with the club's regular meeting even if you've never experienced one in Paris before.

The day after will be just another ordinary combo Saints-Henri and Joël day, which will also be the eve of Bastille Day. The eve, in fact, when the party starts. By then, if I have more details about the 'fête nationale' I'll try to include them here.

The café La Corona meeting place will be open as it is constantly as well as every Thursday. Yourphoto: club drinks, empty club's meeting time will begin at 15:00 and continue until 17:00 in Europe's Central European Time Zone - which is 'CET' for short and not 'BUPT' - and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm otherwise.

How most club meetings end - with empty glasses. Until next week.

The club's secretary, also known as 'Ed,' will be making some 'report' notes during the coming meeting but there's no need to worry about this because 'Ed' may be using the club's new good-luck 'cobra' pen, if he can find it.

Prepare to have your new 'Quote of the Week' ready or put your own new 'City of the Week' forward or even invent any other 'Things of the Week,' especially if you want to become modestly famous for 10 days on account of maybe having these things mentioned in a meeting's club 'report,' like this one.

Share your wise words and thoughtful thoughts with other members - and all readers of this online magazine with the free Paris club for readers who 'just want to be' members - especially because it is nearly free except for La Corona's 'l'addition' - and if you are in Paris.

The café's location is:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny - or - 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Pont-Neuf or Châtelet.

A bientôt à Paris,
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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