"We Had a Great Cab Driver!"

photo: weeks group minus three

Today's club members, minus three, get thumbs up from passing Louvre line-stander.

On 'Green Man' - Hike

Paris:- Thursday, 14. March 2002:- There is no third 'week off' in a row for the wicked and club secretaries so I have to look out one of my few windows to see what the weather is doing today. My first impression is more favorable than what it is actually doing - getting ready to rain.

Take heart! This is 'crummy weather week' and it lasts like all these things do - until club time when it changes into 'fooled-you-weather- week' and the sun is fitfully shining on the Quai du Louvre long before the huddled masses in the Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay sally out to - 'surprise!'

So I am bit surprised too when I arrive at the café La Corona, where Patrick, the 'Waiter of the Week,' tells me there are two about-to-become club members in residence - rather than 'le monde.'

But the 'Surprise of the Week' - to be known hereafter as the 'SotW' - is to meet Kathy Romero who is sitting next to Ken Romero, who in turn has been a Metropole reader since the early morning of antiquity, which as all readers know was some time in 1996.

Back then, Ken rashly threatened to come to Paris to bring me a genuine Cajun Country t-shirtphoto: club food with the slogan, 'Laissez les bons temps rouler!' - which also seems to be the slogan of Lafayette, Louisiana and the radio station he works for there. It is not a place to go looking for hard times or boring music.

The six or seven year-old t-shirt is in remarkable condition too, and it is very tastefully done. It will set off all of my genuine plastic Louisiana green and purple carnival juju beads very nicely.

Where do La Corona's tomatoes come from? Is it the 'Question of the Week?'

The Romeros are in a good mood because they have been huddling in the Musée d'Orsay, and tramping up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and trudging all over western Paris since they arrived on a flight by way of Meridian and Atlanta, at 06:30 this morning.

I tell them it is okay to be jetlagged at the club and they have plates of Corona salad instead. While remarking on the taste of the tomatoes - they want to know where they come from - Kathy also wants to know, "How did you get this dream job?"

While I fib about this Ken says, "We had a great cab driver from the airport!" I think this may be the 'Quote of the Week' because nobody has ever mentioned great cab rides from Roissy before. Ken says the guy was a terrific 'gear shifter and adroit lane-changer.'

Oh! the simple five-speed pleasures of Paris! For readers unfamiliar with European taxis, most have gear-shifts, and in Paris most cab drivers prefer first and fifth, tending to hurry through numbers two to four.

Ken has noticed the smooth shifting because he was in the army, guarding the US Embassy in Paris for six months, 32 years ago. This is why the couple had to see half of everything earlier today.

David Goodfriend hauls in next, from Washington DC. He says he works for Associated Press there, but his main gig is with a blues band called 'Eleanor Ellis and the Bad Dogs.'

Before we can get much into this, Elizabeth Clark and Robert English Brew arrive - from, respectively, Tucsonphoto: how to sign members book Arizona and Washington DC - and immediately ask, "Where's Dinny?" The answer to this is, if they have asked, she will surely not be coming today. They don't believe it.

Some people read the fine-print - closely! - in the members' booklet before signing up.

This remains unresolved for the moment because Eleanor Ellis - of 'Bad Dog' fame - arrives in person. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, but hails from deep Louisiana - home of the 'blues' - after all! - and was practically a neighbor of the Romeros. Wow!

As a public service I relate the pickpocket story, including the part about the club members' ride to the nearest copshop. Eleanor immediately suggests that Paris copshops should be on the 'tours' lists, but without the pickpockets' part.

Astonishingly Dinny does arrive and we haul over more chairs. The club is getting as crowded as the Musée d'Orsay - which the Romeros say can't be gotten into from the Rue de Lille unless you are a 'group.'

Ken has a huge Nikon camera with everything on it including air conditioning, and some sort of 'red-dot-on-the face' autofocus, which I try out, before returning to my silly 'focus-puller' which is made out of a recycled scrap of photocopy paper.

David says Baltimore is a better venue for blues than DC and everybody has an opinion about Baltimore including everybody who has never been there.

This sets the stage for the 'not late' arrival of Barbara McMahon and Alan Mailloux from Stratford Ontario, where they operate a B&B nearly year-round for Shakespeare fans. For readers who are into 'The Bard,' this year is Stratford's 50th so you should book the B&B early - like a couple of months ago.

The subject of the Musée d'Orsay keeps resurfacing even though nobody ever mentions what everybody is lining up to see there. It has, according to Barbara, toilets so crowded by ladies that surplus ladies use the men's.

This has no connection to Dinny's redphoto: club wines boots, which somehow get noticed for the first time, including by Patrick, our waiter - who tells me to get this gang out on to the terrace for the 'Group Photo of the Week' because it is going to rain within ten minutes.

While special 'March' beer is available now, members still prefer pinky-colored wines.
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