"Where Are All the Flower Stalls?"

photo: from left, debbie, sue, linda, mark, doug

The not-quite-whole group photo, with Debbie, Sue,
Linda, Mark and Doug.

Sports Break for a Club Report

Paris:- Thursday, 30. May 2002:- By craning my neck dangerously I can see some blue sky from my kitchen window this morning. The next thing to do is go outside and see how much of it there is, and find out if the temperature is going to be higher than 15. This is so low it actually sounds better in Fahrenheit - about 59 degrees.

Well, with the sun shining in patches, it looks like it'll be a good tennis day for the folks who have bought tickets to do the twist with their necks all day out at Roland Garros where the world's leading tennis players are batting around yellow balls on red clay.

Yesterday's radio France-Info coverage mainly concerned the costume of Serena Williams, who was colorfully outfitted by the sponsor of Cameroon's soccer team. The photo of this, today's Le Parisien hasn't bothered to share with its tennis-fan readers.

French tennis men get four stories with photos and French tennis ladies get one story with a photo and a half, while fish get all of pages two and three. I think I'll return my tennis-fan status to where it was.

Oh - the weather - the rest of it. Sunny skiesphoto: waters of the week and rising temperatures are forecast, but cut back a bit from yesterday's optimistic outlook. This is partly a guess, because tonight's TV-news switched the weather show to come before the political show - thus causing millions of French viewers to see the Socialist's François Hollande instead of Saturday's sunbeams.

What started out to be the 'Drink of the Week' - was later modified to include café, red and white.

Getting an accurate fix on the weather while riding to the club on the métro has always been a problem, but otherwise today's trip is uneventful. The Rue de Rivoli is uneventful too, and I am almost sleepwalking when I reach the café La Corona, which also seems to be in a deep slumber.

Luckily, the first members to arrive are Sue and Doug Fuss. They offset the group of five French ladies and one French man the unknown 'Waiter of the Week' has installed in the club's area.

Unknown 'Waiters of the Week' are probably due to one of our regular 'Waiters of the Week' having the day off on account of the 35-hour workweek. The MGT never tells the new ones about the club meeting being here every Thursday, so they get initiated one by one by club members.

Sue and Doug are in Paris because they have been invited to a Gosford Park place in Devon, to help celebrate 'four weddings and a funeral,' as Doug puts it. While waiting around for this in Paris, they have been seeing tennis in the rain.

Apparently it is not pretty to watch rain falling on tarpaulins that are spread on top of the red clay to keep it dry. But a bonus side effect is, according to Doug, some the top matches that are put off by rain, get played in cheaper-seat courts later in order to catch up.

Then the server-lady Linda Thalman arrives, all out of breath, because she has raced from a bookstore on Rivoli, after racing from the Cadillac Ranch to Paris in her little car in a record 45 minutes.

It is sort of a record because the last timephoto: vin rouge of the week she did this, four million Parisians were out of town on holidays. Today she hit an improbable window of 'no-bouchons,' while Parisians must have been having an improbable siesta after lunch.

The 'Red Wine of the Week.'

The club's first new member of the week - see? two 'firsts' in a row with eight words - is Debbie Grale from the Parma, Ohio part of Cleveland, Ohio - which almost makes two 'Cities of the Week' at once.

Debbie has been meaning to come back to Paris every year since 1979, and she has finally made it! I don't think any other club member has meant to come back to Paris for 23 years in a row, but I could be wrong.

"Have they have the last snow of the year in Cleveland yet?" Doug wants to know. He has spent to some time around there and has fond memories of bad sledding in May.

After Linda helpfully says that the swallows are back - at the Cadillac Ranch at least - this reminds me to ask if there are robins in Europe. I haven't seen one in 30 years and have been kind of hoping they are a thriving species - tippy-toeing around trying to make worms think it is raining.

Debbie assures me that there are indeed robins in Cleveland and in Parma. And this leads me to hear Linda say she studied German in Athens, which I think is quite odd until this Athens is identified as the one in Ohio.

Actually there are ten other Athens' in the US, and one in Canada for good luck. Greece has no monopoly on them.

Linda is jiggling in anticipation of aphoto: vin blanc of the week sports-viewing orgy - the rest of the tennis - on TV every afternoon, and the World Cup matches that start tomorrow in South Korea, that will be shown on TV every morning, or earlier.

The 'White Wine of the Week.' The 'Café of the Week' is not shown this week, although there was some.

France, as the last World Cup winner and current champion, plays against Senegal in the first game. She is worried about what Senegal's marabous may be cooking up for 'Les Bleus.'

Debbie thinks that Paris has changed in the 23 years since she was here last. "There's less smoke," she says, "And the roads are cleaner."

"Flower stalls," she adds, "There used to be flower stalls on nearly every street corner."

We are having a good old time trying to remember what else has changed in Paris when Mark Kritz arrives, sportily wearing the 'Tie of the Week.'

Actually, anybody who does wear a tie can almost get this award automatically - Linda remembers another member who showed up wearing one, but I think this didn't count because it went with a whole suit, and it was the suit thing that got the 'Thing of the Week' award.

When we all stand up and walk out of the café for the 'Group Photo of the Week,' the 'Unknown Waiter of the Week' needs to be reassured that we are not doing a 'file à l'Anglaise.'

After we have done the terrace bit, we try a new thing with the sidewalk. Linda thinks thephoto: tie of the week double-decker tour buses are cute, as a background. I think the car illegally parked on the Quai du Louvre with two mattresses tied to its roof is interesting too, but you can't see this in the photo.

Back inside, to see a relieved 'Unknown Waiter of the Week,' we also discover that member Patricia Philbin has cleverly shown up when it is too late to get into the group photo.

This 'Tie of the Week' may become the 'One of the Month,' or even 'Year.'

Ah, so what? Patricia graciously holds up the tatty 'focus-puller' and steels herself for the solo-photo ordeal, little realizing the 'focus-puller' actually works, except for its 'white-balance' feature which always seems to be out of order.

What I have left out is the usual talk about airlines and their odd habits, with overbooking, alternate flights, upgrading, and trips to the Italian West Indies, which either Patricia or Mark highly recommend.

As sort of a warning to those who will be visiting Paris in the next two weeks, Linda has said, "I don't care about my garden!" She is an avid gardener, but sports are on and when they are tennis and the World Cup, France pays attention.

The ladies go off towards Samaritaine and Mark and I go towards the Pont des Arts. After a few words, he heads towards the Louvre's book shop where he hopes to find a book about Eduardo Arroyo, and I cross the bridge to see how many newlyweds are on it, posing for the 'Photos of Their Lives.'

The Coming Meeting

The next weekly meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 6. June. This will be a fairly usual 23rd Thursday in the year 2002, named for the unique occasion for Saint-Norbert. In 1944, which was 58 years ago, the 6th of June was on a Tuesday, but it was Saint-Norbert's day in France even back then.

The location details for this meeting are below, followed or preceded by the multiple métro-stop names and all the date and time details, all of which have been identical for years, almost like this paragraph, which does change by a word or two some weeks.

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

To find out how to become a member you can read the page called 'About the Café Metropole Club.'photo: patricia This page explains nearly everything you should know about this club - next to nothing - and its meetings - only a bit more than next to nothing.

Patricia, looking relieved to have dropped the tatty 'focus-puller.'

If you find reading nearly nothing tiresome and you feel like giving this 'About' page a pass - there are 'no rules' after all - all you really should know is that you can easily become a member of this online magazine's live, free and real club in a jiffy by simply being at a meeting when you are in central Paris on a Thursday.

The 'Coming Meeting' Boilerplate

Every meeting of this club in Paris begins at 15:00 on Thursday and continues until 17:00, still on Thursday, in Europe's Central European Time Zone - which is 'CET' for short and not 'BAN ANAS' - and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm in worldwide zones without 'Metric-Eurotime,' which is now in its 'summer' version.

The club's secretary will be making some effort to make 'report' notes during the meeting and listen to you at the same time. This is seldom completely successful. Note your name,photo: l'addition of the week hometown, and your own email address in the members' booklet in case the secretary forgets to ask you to do it.

With the money on the table, the meeting is officially over - most of the time.

Bring a new 'Quote of the Week' or propose your own 'City of the Week' or prepare any other original or amusing 'Things of the Week' if you want your envious neighbors to read them in a 'club report' associated with your name. 'No-names' is an option you can elect too. Otherwise and in general, the only exception is 'no rules.'

Most of the things you say may be treated with great respect and may be really appreciated by the other members present, if they hear them - and by all readers of this online magazine, if they read them - if they turn out to be typed in here.

The café's location is:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny - or - 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli, Pont-Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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