The Big 'Oops' of the Week

photo: l->sccop, sharon, jules, elliot; sheila, alan, berta

All of today's club members who correctly came
to the wrong café.

Members Fallback To Lodi

Paris:- Thursday, 20. December 2001:- Last night's TV-weather forecast was quite definite about Paris having lousy weather today, with a sky full of lumpy grey clouds dropping occasional bomb-loads of snow - made possible by temperatures rising to three degrees.

Of course none of this has happened. The temperature might have risen a couple, or even more, degrees - but there has been no lumpiness in the heavens. There is even a moon showing tonight - during what is called locally, nighttime - after a day of clear blue skies on the second-shortest day of the year.

This good fortune did not hint to me that there was worse to come. But I spied it from half a block away in the form of builder's materials blocking the entrance to the Café-Tabac La Corona.

Inside I found a total shambles. If there was anything 'new' in the club's 'clubhouse' café, it was carefully hidden under piles of construction, disorganization, junk, garbage, bric and brac.

Within this chaos I found several 'Waiters of the Week' - not being ready to serve anybodyphoto: berta, sheila onion soup - dressed for a fine day at the centre of a fully-confused construction site. Not one of them was wearing a 'Waiter of the Week' tie either.

In a state of near shock I asked them to send lost club members to the Café Lodi, while hoping that the club's backup café was not full of any members of the Arkansas City Cub Scout Groupette 49 - the 'Rascals' - on tour in Paris.

Berta Maginniss and Sheila Stampfi, wearing their furry coats.

Luckily they were elsewhere at the club's starting time. While my brain was stuck between 'reverse' and 'second' gears, club member Alan Pavlik arrived from Hollywood, California, just as if the Lodi has become known world-wide as the club's number one backup café meeting place.

For simply showing up - and on time too! - I make Hollywood the 'City of the Week.' Alan doesn't have much time to tell me more than he lives, "One block north of Sunset, one block south of Hollywood Boulevard," - then Berta and Scoop Maginniss arrive with a new member in tow, and this is Sheila Stampfi from Washington, DC.

I'll tell you, now that the Maginniss' have bought an apartment in Paris, they think they can just come here any old time they want and buy more stuff for it.

In fact, Scoop tells me he has put a building workshop in it, which makes me wonder if they are going to stop with just one apartment. If they get more, maybe they'll come to club meeting so often that I can appoint Berta as 'secretary.'

Meanwhile - meaning, as in the space of time while I'm writing this - Sharon and Elliot Medrich arrive from San Francisco or Oakland, just like they did a year ago at this time.

This immediately starts off a heatedphoto: alan pavlik discussion about the 'Rabbits at Roissy' problem. I am beaten down with my investigative reporting 'report' of rabbits still infesting both Orly and Roissy - when everybody shouts at me, "There used to be MILLIONS of them!"

The photo of Alan Pavlik that I thought wasn't - because of the Lodi's lights.

Then Scoop is saying the Café Bricolo in the basement of the BHV department store is a 'great singles café' - great for picking up girlfriends who are handy with hammers and saws and other common 'brico' tools.

Somewhere about here Jules Caris arrives. I'm not sure he intends to become a club member or sell 'any size apartments you want in the Quartier Latin.' Since the club has no 'fine print' anymore, I explain how to join it in a few, short words, and he sets about the business of becoming a club member while I tell him about all the disclaimers.

When I look up Dinny Moyer is trying to figure out where to squeeze in. She sees this is not going to be easy, so she decides to go back to La Corona and wait there for another new member who does not know about the club's fallback café, Le Lodi.

Elliot wants to know where he can take veggie friends to eat, and says 'no thanks' to my suggestion of an Italian place. "I didn't come to Paris to eat pizza," he says.

All restaurants have fish I point out, and he thinks maybe his veggie friends might not consider fish to be animal meat. Actually, I was thinking that some Italian restaurants have other dishes besides pizza. Some have good Italian food.

There is a lot of talk going on all around the tables we've pushed together. I hear Berta say Drouot's auctions on Saturdays at this time of year are great for getting jewelry and this prompts somebody to mention the entire 19th century shop inside the Musée Carnavalet.

A scan of the table reveals no 'Drinks of the Week.' When members get to chatting they often forget this vital club item, and merely have cafés of various sorts. Elliot even has a Coke.

Since Sharon and Elliot got married since their last club meeting, they are roundly congratulated for getting around to it after seven years.

I call for all cameras to be placed on the table to see if one of them may be the 'Camera of the Week,' but onlyphoto: alexandra Alan and Sharon have one, each. Jules says he likes selling lofts in the Bastille area too. Most of these are 'fixer-uppers' so Scoop is interested - even though he is careful to point out how close two of the racetracks are to his own new apartment.

Alexandra of Le Café Lodi has been our main 'Waiter of the Week' for the duration.

With the cameras on the table - this is sort of a hint that it is 'Group Photo of the Week' time - but I am stalling until Dinny gets back from La Corona.

To fill in a bit, and partly because I didn't expect this meeting to be at the Lodi, I shoot Franck just as he is about to eat a herring, and shoot Alexandra, just about as she is going to collect a modicum of money from somebody. Voilà, here you have our back-up hostess and host in the Lodi.

Out on the Lodi's terrace, the sun is bright and strong as befits being one day short of as low as it will get for the year. I remember to place the light-metre part on the brightest object I can see - which is Sheila's hair - but it is a tricky business because all the trucks going past on the Quai du Louvre throw these huge shadows.

With this club ritual out of the way, the members seems free to start wandering off to go shopping - to spend spend spend' as one of them puts it.

Continued on page 2...
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