A Really New 'First!'

photo: l->r, linda, charlie, florence, david, sally, susanne, jay, jan

Not everybody is even in today's middle-sized group
photo. See blank spaces on either side.

The Club Gets Its Mascot

Paris:- Thursday, 4. October 2001:- My building's lady 'guardian' says the furnace is fine except for one tiny piece that doesn't seem to be in stock anywhere in Europe. "Yes," she agrees, "It is not as warm as yesterday."

Yesterday wasn't overly warm either, but Tuesday was 'warmer than usual for this time of year.' This was quite a surprise to me when I looked out around noon fully expecting to see snowdrifts. So I took off one sweater.

After shopping, I took off two more. But today is kind of normal. I keep all sweaters on until going out.

The reason I'm giving all this extra detail is for the weather fans who might be getting their Paris forecasts from a source other than France Météo, which isn't putting out any these days.

Each day is like a gift package with 'surprise' weather in it and this afternoon it means that the sun isphoto: club food doorstopper shining half the time on the right bank of the Seine where the club's café is located. It never shines on the opposite left bank, unless the sun heads far enough north. I think there is a geographical reason why it doesn't do this, but I'm not sure.

Today's 'Food of the Week' is a huge piece of delicious stodge.

Arriving at the café La Corona a bit before meeting time, I find two brand new members have arrived a bit before me, and have staked out no less than six full places in the club's area of the café. They have also introduced themselves to each other without waiting to become club members.

If the club had any rules, doing this would be against one or two of them. However now that the club's secretary is here and temporarily in charge, I waive these non-existent 'rules.'

For no particular reason I choose to let Charlie Noby from Vancouver, Washington become a member first while I make the acquaintance of Jay Barrios from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Jay and a pal of his in Texas, Jerry Stopher, were instrumental in calling for the total abandonment of 'club rules.' To prove it, Jay tells me he has left both of his hearing aids back at the hotel - and I should point my mouth at him if I don't want him to say 'pardon' all the time.

This seems to work out fine. Jay then produces the club's new and official mascot, one that he has carved himself - with the date of 'OCT 2001' branded on the bottom of its back feet. It is a lovely howling hound dog, with dotted eyeballs fixed on outer space, or the moon, if there is one.

Jay says, "It is an old, grey dog, has no teeth, but loves to howl. It's a self-portrait."

Charlie, who I suspect has already had something to eat, orders one of La Corona's doorstoppersphoto: part club group of a slab of bread, covered in mushrooms. These do have a menu-name, and I forget what it is - but it is the 'Food of Week' anyhow.

Some of today's members, in the sun and shade inside the club's café, La Corona.

We are not having a quiet time because other members have been showing up since 15:00. Susanne Chaney, a club member, has arrived from Fairfax, California with her friend Jan Major from Amsterdam, who becomes a member too.

Although I tell Susanne that Fairfax can't be 'City of the Week' because this has already been awarded to Vancouver, Washington, I decide here and now to make it 'Honorary City of the Week' to distinguish it from Fairfax, Virginia, which has been 'City of the Week' before.

At the same time Sally Dilgart from Chicago is finding out that Vancouver, Washington is not the same as Vancouver in Canada. She is having so much fun in Paris that she says, "Both Vancouvers are 'vachement fantastique!'"

Charlie asks Sally, "Why are you spending so much time in Paris?"

Linda Thalman, the server-lady has arrived, and has ordered sausages and frites and a big pot of wine. Something makes the photo of this extravagance disappear before I can call it the 'Food of the Week' too.

David Leeds, who became a member last week, arrives with Florence, who becomes a member too this week. The next time I turn around I see that Doug Fuss has dropped in from the sky without me noticing, and is wedged in between Sally and Jan Major, where he passes the members' booklet to her and explains how to fill in her particulars.

Sally is annoyed. She has been at the Invalides to see Napoléon's horse, Marengo. "The guards," she says, "Would just say it is 'over there' with all the other dead, stuffed horses."

But she quickly comes out of her mini-snit. "Are bats," she asks, "Really called 'hot-mice.'"

"Chauve-souris," Charlie says, "Not chaude-souris," which Sally accepts with great relief. 'Bats in the bell-tower' are associated with spiders, however.

Doug Fuss has already left, as mysteriously as he arrived. I begin to worry about the 'Group Photo of the Week.' Linda worries about these silly little rituals too, and causes such an uproar that the members think the place is on fire at first.

Once out on the sidewalk on the sun-washed shade-dappled Quai du Louvre, it looks to me that there are slightly less than the number of last week's members, because they all fit in the camera's viewfinder, with room left over for us to manoeuver around to get a different background - which hinders some passing civilians, who might think we are some unfunny circus act.

Jay hauls out his camera to get a shot too and so does Sally, who wants one of the server-lady and the club's secretary. She has one of these trick-cube cameras, and when she shows me how its trick works, I shoot her with the server-lady too.


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