"Paris Is Almost Normal"

photo: group, norman, beth, cynthia, john

Today's 'Group of the Week' - Norman, Beth, Cynthia
and John - look pretty harmless.

Unoutclassable 'First of Firsts'

Paris:- Thursday, 10. October 2002:- If this club meeting 'report' appears online before next Sunday, I will know I have a major rabbit in my hat. Last Monday's minor 'edition' fell afoul of an operating system that didn't appreciate being physically moved 600 metres.

The server-lady has given so much protection to Metropole's situation on the Web-server that she was unable to 'fix' things without causing a huge shambles, kind of like making water flow uphill. This left it to be 'fixed' by 'Ed' and he hasn't a clue why it works now and didn't last Monday. 'If' it works now.

On the weather front I have bad news that concerns south-eastern France. There is an 'orange' alert down there tonight, which means watch out for an overabundance of water.

For the Paris area things are not so grave. My color TV set has decided that a 600-metrephoto: cafe of the week move entitles it to show the weather in huge black and white flakes, sort of making the forecast a bit murky.

Why is this café laughing?

I watched this murk as honestly as possible and I can only say that it didn't seem to match Le Parisien's forecast this morning, which was in color again. Temperatures are not warm 'for this time of year,' but feel warmer - at about an advertised 16 or 17 degrees. Jolly nice!

Ah, now the future. If tonight's TV forecast was correct, Saturday may be the nicest day coming up. Le Parisien thinks it will be tomorrow, Sunday and Monday, with Saturday maybe being semi-okay.

I was reminded yesterday by club member Dinny Moyer that I can look out of my very large main window facing north and really see what is happening right now. 'Right now' it is nighttime and pitch black out there, except for a few lights showing halfway up the Tour Montparnasse.

This then, will be a future break-point for the weather. If I can see the Tour Montparnasse without radar - almost exactly 500 metres away - then the weather is fine in Paris, day or night. And I can see the tower tonight.

Now I will rewind back to this afternoon when I pace off my new route to the métro station, whichphoto: cocktail of the week is the same one I used before. I ignore the TV monitor in the entry saying which lines are 'perturbed' by labor 'actions' today and immediately catch a train. Note that the station Cité is closed for some reason - do not be alarmed by métro trains non-stopping at it.

The strangest pastis cocktail in the world - but why is it laughing?

At the club's café La Corona I meet the new 'Waiter of the Week,' who tells me the café's management has informed him of this world-famous club having meetings in it on Thursdays. In case I forget to mention it later, this week's waiter is named Eric. He has asked for the report's URL, to find out if he will be famous too.

Earlier I have purchased a new and genuine third members' booklet at Monoprix, so the first thing I do is fix this up with the meeting number and so on, and add the next new member's number, which is 415.

However the first to arrive is a new member from last week. This is Beth Sperry, the club's only self-confessed philosopher with a real degree. Although I try mightily to be 'philosophical' I feel that I make a hash of it. I have left-over uncool jitters from the move and its aftermath.

Luckily the next member to arrive arrives soon, and is prepared to be philosophical. This is Norman Barth, who runs 'The Paris Pages.' When he says his member number is 'bis' I don't understand until he finds his sign-in - and he has no member number.

Although I can't remember why now, the omission was deliberate. Without Norman's connivance there would be no weekly Metropole Paris and no weekly Café Metropole Club, so I guess he must be an Honorary Charter Member.

I am very embarrassed when I have to tell him that other members abolished all 'rules' some years ago, including the 'Honorary Charter Member' title. As secretary of this club I decide on the spot, without consulting the any of the other 414 members, to declare Norman 'Honorary Charter Member Number One' - and only.

If any other members are going to write to complain about this and don't include your names, just remember I know your members' numbers.

"Russian does not have thephoto: map one of the week verb 'to be,'" Norman says to Beth. This is, of course, in the realm of philosophy - as in, you can't say 'To be or not to be' in Russian. He explains what Russians use as a substitute, but I forget to note it.

First it was the drinks - then this map starting laughing.

What has not brought this up is Norman taking Spanish lessons in Washington, instead of in San Diego, near where he lives. He also declines to explain how he learned the Russian business in a Spanish class.

Beth is taking French lessons at the Alliance Française, which is a school most everybody has been to at one time or another, and has some branches near some of our home towns, if some of them are near some major cities.

Beth and Norman, after some philosophical discussion, finally decide they have water in common. He says, "I suppose I have to come clean..."

"Can I respond now?" Beth asks.

What follows is a 223-word per minute reflection about 'youthful rebellion' that I fail to note entirely except for the word 'rebellion' - followed by another note, 'Beth - 1000-word response.'

I seldom note what the secretary says, but I now recall mentioning some of the famous people in everlasting residence across the street from my new window. This is 'off-subject,' because Beth asks Norman, "What are you besides an Internet whiz-kid?"

Now I realize my 'notes' are out-of-order, because here is where Norman says, "I suppose I have to come clean..."

Luckily Cynthia Marquez, from South Pasadena, arrives with John Lee, from Los Angeles, California. They are jetlagged out of their minds after a non-stop flight that dumped them at Roissy at 06:30 this morning.

In their honor, I declare South Pasadena to be the 'City of the Week,' partly because John says he lives within 300 metres or three miles of downtown LA. Also, because Cynthia says this club has been recommended to them by long-time Metropole reader and Café Metropole Club member 254, Michael McKinnon of Pomona.

Last week I asked new member Marshall Tulin from Santa Barbara if he knew Norman, because they are both sort of in the water business, both in the same state, and they both come to Paris a lot. When I ask Norman about this, he says he probably knows somebody in a neighboring office.

This may seem off-subject too, but John is another Californian and even though he is not in the water business, he is in the university line, as in Pepperdine University in Malibu - which I think is close to water.

Cynthia says John travels around giving lectures about telecommunications, which are notphoto: map two of the week to be confused with the telephone business which is only about marketing and has nothing to do with communications anymore.

But, jetlagged or not, John says, "Paris is almost normal - compared to LA."

Another 'first' - two laughing maps at one club meeting.

To be fair, I should never quote anybody who is at the club while in a jetlagged state - not actually uncommon! - and, besides, John retracts his statement. Or he amends it, making LA almost as 'normal' as Paris. In its own way, of course.

For example, Beth says she rode a bus this week that passed though the Etoile at rush-hour. This was, she says, an exciting experience - about like seeing an elephant pass through the eye of a needle without having to bend its trunk.

I have added the second phrase above because these days the Etoile is tame compared to the way it was before the traffic lights were installed to stop everybody from entering it at once. Nobody hears the secretary say this anyway.

And nobody believes that the Etoile is not a metaphor for normal French driving habits, no matter how civilized it has become.

I have suspected that the club's camera batteries are on their last bit of juice and this is confirmed during the 'Group Photo of the Week' session out on the café's terrace.

During this part of the club meeting all hands, er, all members - all of them! - decide to take their own 'Group Photo of the Week' too - which is a true 'first.'

Then one man - from Atlanta, Georgia - with a group of non-members sitting in the sun on the terracephoto: counter group photo watching the traffic jam on the Quai du Louvre, borrows John's camera to take another 'Group Photo of the Week' and pretty soon everybody is doing it, every which way.

Laughing club members hide behind unauthorized 'Cameras of the Week.'

This amounts of something like the 'Group Photo of the Week Squared' and is a 'first' of a major order in the galaxy of 'firsts,' and as the club secretary who has witnessed most of them, I can say it may be an unoutclassable 'First of Firsts.'

Since it is the first one of these, it is in itself a 'first.'

The Next Club Meeting

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 17. October. This will be a perfectly normal 42nd Thursday in the year 2002 only seven days from now - with the day being named for Saint-Renaud - who is not named after the French automobile or vice-versa.

Make it your Fête if it's your Saint's birthday too. Trying to remember saints is like trying to remember the exceptions to French grammar, which is the only thing you really need to remember. Need to memorize, I should say. Nobody can remember all of the 'exceptions.'

This week is the final appearance here for the, this, 'changeless paragraph.'

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

By taking a look at the page called 'About the Café Metropole Club' you can find out howphoto: wild hand of the week to become a member. However, if you are reading this 'report' of today's club meeting, 'how-to-become-a- member' should be perfectly clear.

Is this a laughing hand - or the rabbit in my hat?

'Club rules' are so nearly nothing that they have no 'exceptions' - except for the unique 'Honorary Charter Member' exception - that they would hint that if you feel ignoring this 'About' page - exceptionally, do so. All you need to know is that you can be a member of this online magazine's live, free and real club by simply being at a meeting. Even if you think this to too easy, it is still fairly easy to join.

Special Dubious Note

The French have decided that they do stand out from mankind by mutually declaring themselves to be 'exceptions.' The exception to this are the Parisians, most of whom consider themselves to be unexceptional - or no more exceptional than say, New Yorkers.

What, Where, When, Who, How, Why Not?

Club meetings begin in Paris no sooner than 15:00 on Thursday and continue until 17:00 on the same day, in Europe's Central European Time Zone - which is 'CET' for short and not 'TICK' - and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm in worldwide areas with two daily sets of 12-hour-time.

Please note your name, hometown, and your own email address in the members-onlyphoto: eric the waiter members' booklet number three. The club's secretary often forgets to remember to ask new members to do this.

Finally, this week's laughing 'Waiter of the Week.'

Come prepared with a new 'Quote of the Week' or propose your hometown as 'City of the Week' or invent any other 'Things of the Week.' True 'firsts' are welcome too even if they are dubious. 'No-names' is an option you can also opt for if you prefer to be 'not found' on the Internet. Otherwise and in general, the only exception is 'no rules.'

What you say may be honestly appreciated by the other members present, if there are any, and if they are and are listening - and by all readers of this online magazine, if they read it - if any of it turns out to be written 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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