'Mystery of the Week'

photo: corona coligny terrace

This neat 'Fiat 500 of the Week' stands in for the usual 'Group Photo of the Week.'

Not One, But Several

Paris:- Thursday, 9. August 2001:- The leaves on trees are too green to fall off, but dead and brown leaves are drifting in the breezes around the sidewalks. They must have been strewn about by mysterious night workers because they do not appear to have fallen off local trees.

Otherwise it seems as if it is an ordinary August day in Paris. There are less people riding the métro and fewer get off it at Cité, and after Châtelet, the Rue de Rivoli seems a bit lifeless because the summer sales have finished and all the shelves are empty.

Although I do not yet know today's meeting will be as mysterious as the imported dead leaves, I capture the 'Fiat 500 of the Week' in passing. Is this mere reflex, or is this a premonition?

At the club's café La Corona only a few clients are occupying its Amiral Coligny terrace and there are none at all on the long expanse of the Quai du Louvre side.

Inside the café the small 'salle' seems full and the café's staff seems occupied, but the 'grande salle' is nearly empty. Patrick, thephoto: server lady of the week 'Waiter of the Week' announces the club secretary's arrival to a waiting new member, who has been searching the empty tables and chairs for the club.

The server-lady, Linda Thalman - captured in focus in a candid pose.

It is on the dot of 15:00 when we occupy a table, as soon as I've established that this is well and truly the 'club.' On the second try I get the new member's name. It is a familiar one on account of past emails, but this is our first encounter.

Before the proceedings can begin, within only a minute or two, the new member asks for the direction to the café's waterworks, and rapidly departs in that direction.

After I ascertain that the club no longer possesses an 'official' pen with green ink - I loathe green ink! - I note the issue number, the meeting's number and the date. With this done and the members' booklet waiting for its new member's name, I pass the time by reading a clipping about a recent game of hot dog between the Mets and the Yankees.

I learn a great deal about the different races of hot dogs at New York area ballparks, but do not get the last two paragraphs digested before the server-lady, Linda Thalman, and Doug Fuss arrive together.

Since they seem to have arrived together I ask them if they have arrived together, and the answer is that they have been looking at historical stuff in the city's Musée Carnavalet together.

"Do you know how many times Paris' Hôtel de Ville has been burned down?" Doug asks me.

While the answer seems to be, in '1772' and '1871' - neither of the history buffs know why it was burned down in 1772. Maybe somebody forgot to put out a candle.

Linda thinks she has seen Henri IV's 'real' foot in the museum, because it is very big - much bigger, she thinks, than the one on the statue that is nearby, just off the Pont Neuf. Um - which one is, in fact, bigger?

None of us know the answer to this one, so Linda tells us about how, after the last meeting she attended, she drove home in bare feet because she wore them out walking around on the way to the club.

That was two weeks ago, when Paris had a freakish brief spell of summer weather, and it was pretty warm. That particular day has impressed Linda so much that she hauls out her new permanent addition to her excursion kit - a box of bandages and even opens it and pulls out all its bandages, to prove, I guess, that it does contain real bandages.

The lesson here is - and I will write it out loud and clear instead of obscurely hinting at it 'between the lines' - if youphoto: doug fuss are in Paris you can get easily carried away with walking, and kind of forget your poor feet and walk them to pieces.

So, then, please remember your feet are vital, and treat them right. Do not sacrifice them just to get to the club! But if you are forgetful, bring along some bandages just in case.

For the first time in 37 meetings Doug Fuss wears a green shirt - in a café that is generally red. This is now his 'official' club portrait.

Suddenly all this talk of extending excursions to extremes causes me to recall that the new member has now been gone a long time, and the trip to the café's waterworks, while downstairs, is not all that great a distance.

As far as the three of us know it is safe enough down there, so no search party is sent out.

Instead Linda wants to propose a 'Tip of the Week.' It is simply this - put bandages on your feet before they get blisters. Then she spells 'blisters' in French, which I forget to note - even though this is a handy word to use in pharmacies when you imp in to urgently request bandages.

Continued on page 2...
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