Illegal Parking Is Back

photo: group, marlilyn, tom burke

Marilyn and Tom Burke are today's 'Group of the Week,' without fancy dance steps.

While Garbage Becomes Illegal

Paris:- Thursday, 5. September 2002:- The avenue in the 14th looks like it is somewhere out-of-town on a slow day. The people are so few that I can see the sidewalk and a few tired leaves lying on it. The weather is neither hot nor cold, neither bright nor cloudy. It seems to be tired.

Too tired to live up to the prediction for today being the best of the week. That was probably yesterday, a day early. Tomorrow doesn't have a bright outlook either. Last Monday, there was supposed to be a week of 'chaos' in the sky. So far it seems as if 'blah' is as bad as it is going to get.

Nearly the only things that are looking lively are the new posters. Besides the ones showingphoto: glass beer new fashions for ladies, the city is running a series showing colorful garbage and mentioning the fines for throwing it around. I think somebody has already been quoted in Le Parisien as saying that 138 euros is too much.

The métro train on the ride down to Châtelet is a lot less than full. There are not many passengers carrying sacks about the size of small trees. Almost everybody looks like they are going to an appointment at the dentist. The posters in the stations are not thrilling.

Half of the 'Drinks of the Week' were beer. The other half were wine and café.

One, for Internet access, says 19 euros for 'unlimited.' It doesn't say 'unlimited' what. Probably an 'unlimited' offer for 30 days, and after that, the sky's unlimitless.

On the shopper's paradise of the Rue de Rivoli, I see more sidewalk. Where is everybody? Have all the people that were here the last few weeks gone home to Cahors, Prague, Chicago, or to the dentists?

Rounding a corner, I have it. The 'Fiat 500 of the Week' is illegally parked outside Le Fumoir café again. Everybody must be in Le Fumoir reading the free newspapers and magazines to while away the time. Whew! Paris is normal again.

In the club's café, the 'grande salle' is mostly full of empty air. I have a feeling the weather may be just good enough to have attracted everybody with time on their hands to the Luxembourg, to play chess outdoors.

I do the administrative necessities to the club's members' booklet and the booklet for today's 'report.' It is the 150th meeting of the club today. I forgot to bring a candle.

I did remember to bring a month-old copy of the New Yorker magazine. The cover shows somephoto: marilyn burke lost Manhattanite coming out of a subway exit to find he has arrived at a peopleless jungle. Maybe it is really the Jardin des Plantes.

Marilyn doesn't believe a word of the 'focus-puller' explanation.

With the magazine I get no further than 'Galleries Out of Town' before Marilyn and Tom Burke arrive. The last club meeting they were at was in Manhattan. It was last December and I was there too. It just goes to show that reading the New Yorker isn't a complete waste of time.

Marilyn and Tom are both club members. Marilyn, who is from Cliffside Park, New Jersey like Tom, joined the club at the meeting on 26. October 2000. Tom was working long hours, so he joined later, on 24. May 2001.

The first thing Marilyn says is, "Italy is finished!" After living in Paris for six years, they returned to the United States, but with a determination to buy a piece of Europe.

At first they were thinking of Spain's Costa Brava and then their attention switched to Italy. Now it has settled on Menton, which is about as far east as you can get on the Riviera without being in Italy. Menton is further east than Monte Carlo and is big enough to have a sandy beach.

According to my memory of TV-weather news and newspaper maps, Menton probably had the best summer weather in France this year. Marilyn says the waters were really warm there, while everywhere else in town was hot. Imagine! Hot in France!

Marilyn and Tom have a big family in New Jersey. About two dozen of them are club members. In addition to this, Marilyn knows about half of the other club members from New Jersey, or maybe she knows half of everybody in that state.

She says two of the club members got married recently. Even better, they got married to each other. This is truly another club 'first' - club members marrying each other. I am astonished. This eventuality wasn't covered in the club's 'rules' - the ones that were abolished a long time ago.

I forget to ask Marilyn what their new club family-name might be. All I can tell you is member 175photo: tom burke married member 180, and as near as I can tell, neither of them were at a meeting together at the same time because member 180 set out for Paris with an expired passport. If there were any 'rules' active, I don't now how they have would handled this.

Neither does Tom.
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