Chicago a Close Second - Paris First

photo: l->r, terrie blazek, fred vezina, jackie vezina

From left, new club members Terrie Blazek, Jackie and Fred Vezina, with lots of Paris in the background.

"With Francs, I Never Knew What I Was Spending"

Paris:- Thursday, 17. January 2002:- On the way to the club meeting today it has been my impression that today is a perfect one for it. The weather that was supposed to be lousy, is not, and it may even improve. For this, I want to give the TV-weather news forecasters the benefit of a doubt.

What they can do with one of these 'benefits' is unknown to me. They may be of value for taking care of unpaid parking fines, in case there is no amnesty resulting from the presidential election later this year.

For Monday's issue I may have forgotten the slight detail of temperatures. These are now classified as slightly above 'normal' for this time of year - and this translates into highs of from eight to ten degrees. The coming weekend's weather is predicted to be 'jolly good' too.

On arrival at the club's café, today's 'Waiter of the Week' Patrick says to me, "Il y a du monde" in attendance. Instead, this crowd turns out to be Jackie and Fred Vezina from Union, Kentucky - which is handily served by the International airport - there are flights from Canada occasionally - in Cincinnati, which may actually be in Hebron, Kentucky.

Fred also tells me there is another nearby state involved with Union's - the 'City of the Week' by the way - geographical location, and immediately draws a map on a napkin so I will get an idea about it. The first thing he draws is Lake Erie.

I am not strong on geography about the United States because there are 50 of them, plus some offshore stuff and 'zones,' including one on Cuba, as strange as it may seem.

Because I mention the two metres of snow in Buffalo - close to Lake Erie? - Fred does not get to complete his sketch. Not doing so is no club 'faute' because the Vezinas only arrived this morning.

photo: jackie, fred vezinaUnlike me, they easily found the RER station at Roissy, and took one of its slightly rare non-stop 'B' trains to Gare du Nord, and got off it at the left bank station of Lexington Gardens.

Not looking totally jet-lagged at all - Jackie and Fred Vezina - who are completely jet-lagged.

All members who come more or less directly to club meetings on their nearly first visit to Paris, do not get demerits for mixing up the US version of Monopoly place names for French ones.

Today's other brand new member arrives at the club's quarter-time mark, about, and says, "I can't figure out how I found Metropole."

Before I can begin to wonder about this, Terrie - aka Thérèse-Marie - Blazek says, "I like Chicago 2nd to Paris."

Terrie is another traveller who rips useful sections out of guide books to carry around. She wants to know if the Rue Cler is as good as some guide books claim it is.

Since I haven't read the guide book in question and only have my own impression of the Rue Cler to go by, I always say it is over-rated unless the visitor likes being near the Champ de Mars and a lot of closed government and embassy buildings, and sometimes finding too much distance between cafés and even further distances between métro stations.

Since it is on everybody's minds, the euro is discussed. Terrie thinks the euro's disadvantage is being toophoto: ham & cheese sandwich close to the dollar in value. "With francs, I never knew what I was spending," she says. All agree that 200 and 500 euro notes are to be avoided because there are none of these in the United States.

At first, Patrick thought this was supposed to be a 'club' sandwich. Not only members are jet-lagged at the club.

Both Jackie and Terrie are scholars. Jackie has just wrapped up her BA and Terrie is an active student of architecture, with another year to go.

They trade stories about being in classes with younger students who cannot figure out why they only get 'C's while the ladies get 'A's.

Jackie's secret was simple - she studied for exams. Terrie has another method. She says, "I only study weird and strange [examples of architecture]."

Fred says nothing and I am about to say nothing when I remember it is 'Group Photo of the Week' time. Fred sensibly puts on his coat for the photogenic session on the terrace.

Actually, for some reason, the café is chilly inside - so it is no colder outside on the Quai du Louvre. It might even be warmer.

The light is right too. The light clouds have drifted away to allow the sun to filter through as it is setting, and it is pretty mellow on the terrace.

But, with the club meeting nearly over, the excursion out into the air has exited appetites. Fred orders a ham and cheese sandwich and Terrie orders a huge onion soup, which only comes in one size.

It has been a good many meetings since the last time anybody ordered onion soup, so it beomes the 'Food of the Week' even though it has been the 'Food of the Week' once or twice before.


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