The Club's Secretary

photo: bar of the corona

The club's café is probably one of the only club cafés in
Paris with a flying saucer over the bar.

Is Drowsy In Paris

Paris:- Thursday, 21. February 2002:- Before I was really awake this morning I spent about ten minutes contemplating what I might write today about my visit to this year's 'Beautiful Cow Show' at the Porte de Versailles. I also wondered if I should go to some mysterious 'Salon de Café' that is supposed to be starting at the Carrousel du Louvre.

After ten minutes of this I fell asleep again, only to wake up a minute later with the realization that this is Café Metropole Club day and these other things are on Friday.

This is really frightening, because when - or if - I wake up on Friday I might think it is Saturday and I already might know what I will write about both these events - when I haven't been to them yet.

At least I already know I don't have to wake up early on Friday because I already know my market people have abandonedphoto: blackboard menu me without warning - I mean they did this on Tuesday, and this is how I know this already - I know I'm not going to have anything good to eat until they come back.

Later, I find my backup boulangerie closed too. This is even worse than my number one boulangerie being closed even though it is a horrible thing to have happen and they warned me about it.

They even suggested I buy a week's worth of bread all at once. Doing this is illegal in France.

You may have guessed by now that the situation is not normal in Paris this week. Parisians have collapsed after seven long weeks of straight work, demos, strikes, protests and long weekends - and they've all gone to the mountains to ski themselves silly.

What is even odder - these very same mountains that have been experiencing weeks of late fall or early spring weather have decided to be wintry, and are suddenly covered with gobs of snow - solely for the Parisians who work on my marché and in my boulangerie.

All of this explains why the métro is nearly empty when I ride it from Denfert to Châtelet. On the Rue de Rivoli it is like a nearly no-traffic Sunday, because on top of everything else, the 'Soldes d'Hiver' are over.

I am prepared for all of this. After this morning's mix-up, I have everything I need for a no-member meeting. I have a magazine with Victor Hugo on its cover, I have my 'focus-puller' just in case, I have extra blank sheets of scrap paper for calculating weeks since the year 'X' - but I have forgotten my darn gloves.

When I remember this, it occurs to me that it isn't very cold out anyway. And the weather is in a momentary lull between waves of low-pressure and high probability of rain. A timid sun sheds watery light on the Pont-Neuf.

Outside the club's café La Corona Monsieur Ferrat is looking bored because no tables need wiping. In the bar area of the café everybody else looks bored because no beer glasses need filling or washing.

Patrick, who is not the 'Waiter of the Week,' hands me the visiting card of a club member who has dropped in - to leave his visiting card with, "Ric - see you Le 28 Feb - farmers are back in town," written on the back.

In the café's grande salle one medium-size family of civilians are occupying four or five ofphoto: fred faure the club's tables. I pick another single table and pass some time noting the prices of some typical Corona items often chosen by club members, when there are any.

Fred is one of the - but the not only! - few club members to come to a meeting on a motorcycle.

For example, in euros, the soupe à l'oignon gratinée costs 7.60euro 3 sign. There is a lot more of these monster prices, but the civilians leave, leaving a huge mess behind them. The club's tables look like they have been left by barbarians who were 'camping sauvage.'

Except for grains of salt, this mess is quickly cleared away by the 'Waiter of the Week' - who later says he will read this report to see his name here.

After all necessary data is entered into the members' and the reports booklets, I read 'letters to the editor' written by Parisians to the city's magazine for residents.

If I copied these complaints down and put them here, you would think twice about visiting this place. On the other hand you can rest assured - when it comes to complaints, Parisians already know what you are going to complain about - and so does the Hôtel de Ville.

Surprisingly, it is only an hour since I left my place up at Denfert and 20 minutes since the meeting started, when Fred Faure shows up.

Fred sounds like he learned English in Indiana, but this week's 'City of the Week' is Montrouge, just south of the 14th in Paris. Fred's actual language major is Japanese, which he learned part of in Japan. The English he learned in a school in the Rue Littré, in Montparnasse.

I think this is amazing because a story has returned to one of this week's editions of Le Parisien - concerning a presidential candidate's election promise to have French taught in grade schools here.

Before I can think a lot about this Patricia Philbin arrives - five minutes after Fred in fact - but she says she isn't staying long because she wants to see the expo of Indian elephants in the Samaritaine department store, which she thinks is going to end soon.

As soon as - well, nearly - she says this I pull out last week's 'focus- puller' and put the camera's business end in her face and shoot it twice. Then I do the same to Fred.

Avid readers will no doubt will want to know how well this worked out last week. Here's the scoop - the camera's stupid aut-focus can actually grasp the big 'X' on the paper, but the same camera's automatic 'white balance' doesn't recognize white paper when it sees it.


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