"A Complex Philosophical Question"

photo: crazy hands of the week

Pastis, served correctly, causes a complex form of
'Willy and the Hand Jive.'

And I Say It Is Only a Birthday

Paris:- Thursday, 24. October 2002:- This town doesn't get much rain as a rule, but like the club's 'rules,' it seems to have been tossed out. Two days do not a monsoon make, except when they are two days of steady rain in Paris.

It is just as well. The higher authorities, whoever they are, have been planting stories in Le Parisien - about a rerun of the great flood of 1910. If this happens you will need a rowboat to get to the very colossal Mitterrand Bibliothéque, which is on quite a high pedestal. The area around the Opéra Garnier would be like Venice.

As far as my new bedroom window goes and its ability to let drizzle fall on my head if it is open when I am asleep, when it is really raining it stays closed and I wait for morning before breathing again.

Tonight's TV-weather news forecast is for more of the same. There may be some brief sunny periods next Sunday, but I'm not counting on these. The coming issue of Metropole may be rained out.

Mind you, I am personally waterproof. I have more than one coat to get soggy, and more than one hat. But the user manual for the camera says it may explode if it is threatened with moisture.

So I will be prudent. If it looks dangerous outside I will stay inside and take stuff out of boxes andphoto: don smith put it away. This it not my favorite activity - putting away stuff I haven't seen for years so I won't see it for some more years. It's a dirty job and somebody has to do it because I can't find anything the way things are.

Don always keeps his hat on in case of sudden baptisims.

On today's métro ride down to Châtelet the train skips the Cité station again. It won't be making regular stops here again until Saturday, 21. December.

This means visitors intending to gawk at Notre Dame will get soggier before they get to look up at its towers and get rain in their faces. The RATP is ever so sorry about this. But renovate they must.

Just because I mention this, the transit authority has also closed my favorite exit at Châtelet - which means I get soggier getting to the club meeting today, by having to trudge a whole extra block.

On the Quai du Louvre even the pigeons are sheltering elsewhere from the rain. Luckily therephoto: beth sperry are no posters worth photographing so I don't get blown to smithereens by a wet camera even before today's anniversary meeting starts.

To read the original Foucault, Beth has been hitting the books at the Alliance Française.

The Corona's bar area is empty when I arrive. The staff are moody. But when I round the corner I find the 'grande salle' is pretty full of people, most of whom are just finishing lunch. A quick glance around sights no empty onion soup bowls.

All the people in the club's area are civilians, but they all leave fairly soon. Don Smith arrives before they are all gone. Don says he is going back to Seattle to get a rest from all the photo courses he's been giving. He probably misses Seattle's rain too.

Since this is a 'gala' day for the club, Don tells me a funny but unlikely story about yuppie pants and mobile phones. Patrick, our 'Waiter of the Week,' brings him a café. Within a minute or two Don's eyes goggle out when he sees what a double-express costs. He thought he was getting a simple single one.

We have about the only coherentphoto: drink of the week chat we've ever had, since first meeting in 1999 on the Champs-Elysées, before Beth Sperry arrives. She orders, in Alliance Française-fresh French - a pastis with a side order of tap water, a bottle of Perrier and a Perrier glass with ice.

She did this last week too, and I forgot to mention that it was the 'Cocktail of the Week' - in case you missed the mention of it. She says, "I love to drink!"

Multiple-time 'Drink of the Week' - a pot of rosé with a chaser of ice cubes.

In fact, without making it an excuse for what she's just said, she also tells us about the salty lunch she just had. It was salmon something.

Just before 16:00 a whole herd of students gets stuffed into the club's area. There are so many of them they overflow into the civilian area of the café. They also talk loudly in Dutch like kids do when they are in hordes.

Beth has found out the name of the guy with the grave at Père Lachaise that some ladies like to visit because of its unusual decor. His name is Victor Noir in case anybody is interested in kinky stuff.

A huge uproar originates with the Dutch students. They claim Patrick has overcharged one of them for a café. Their teacher jumps into the fray. Dinny Moyer arrives during this. None of us can hear what we are saying. It's about 20 students and one teacher against Patrick.

Patrick has been a café waiter all his working life, with the last seven years spent in La Corona. The 20 students and the teacher lose the battle of wills with Patrick, and pay the note. Relief floods the club members.

They will go back to Holland andphoto: patrick waiter of the week each will tell 20 other people about how they got ripped off in the club's café - which has never happened in three years, to any of the club's 419 members.

Patrick has returned to being multiple-time 'Waiter of the Week.'

This uproar has steamed up the café's windows. It is Beth's brilliant idea to write the official birthday message on one of the window panes. She says it will reappear when the Dutch students come back and fog them up again.

But this gesture also starts a club birthday uproar. Is it three years old or four?

Dinny says the club's secretary is counting 'Chinese style.' I say we are having the 157th meeting - one more than three year's worth - and today is the first meeting in the fourth year, so the club is four years old.

Nobody agrees with this reckoning, but I am like Patrick - except I will let the club members leavephoto: dinny moyer the café even if they don't agree with me. It's impossible leave the club without paying because it's free, except for having to pay Patrick.

Patrick comes over shaking his head. He says it is all the fault of Toussaint. Kids in Europe get school holidays at Toussaint. I don't understand the connection - Toussaint is eight days off.

Dinny prefers being in the 'Group Photo of the Week' but today's terrace is too soggy.

He also says La Corona is buying the club a round. This is a fantastical surprise - a 'first' of 'firsts.' Dinny agrees to accept a petite pot of rosé, adding, "I don't want to get trashed." Don has been leaving for a half hour so he doesn't want anything.

Beth - who 'loves to drink' - reluctantly agrees to accept another pastis, but without the watery side-orders. I go for a simple café. It is the most modest 'round on the house' I have ever witnessed.

About the birthday arithmetic, Beth says, "It is a complex philosophical question," adding, "With cultural issues."

This is Beth's last meeting because she has used up her four Alliance Française coupons. About Dinny's worry about getting trashed, she says, "It wouldn't be good, so it's not happening." She also says Foucault has had quite a bit to say on this subject.

Dinny doesn't care just so long as she can bat out 3000 words before midnight. Beth has made her pastis evaporate so she gets up and decides to 'baptize' us with her soggy umbrella as a parting gesture. To make sure it works okay, she does it twice.

It is about 17:00. It has been a pretty sober little birthday party for your own club in Paris. By my count, 415 members have been unable to attend this historic meeting, that will only happen once.

Five minutes later Amélie Baubeau carefully approaches what remains of us. High on baptism waters, I greet her like a lost and forlorn refugee finding the promised land - which also almost scares her back out of the café.

But Amélie is on a mission. She is a student at the journalism school up the Rue du Louvre beyond the old Bourse, andphoto: amelie baubeau she's looking for a 'club of Americans' to write about. She says something about having heard about the Café Metropole Club in the Nouvelle Obs, but Dinny and the club's secretary don't know anything about this.

Amélie 'finds' a club slightly different from other 'slightly different' clubs in Paris.

While Dinny and the secretary take turns telling Amélie about the 'whole history of the club' - she takes some notes as best she can. I mean, nobody has heard anything like this club's history before. Luckily Dinny speaks much better French than I do - but it doesn't look like it makes much difference.

So I ask Amélie to sign the members' booklet, tell her she's become a member 'for life' of a free club for readers of Metropole Paris and so on, as she looks more and more perplexed - partly because of the members from Oz which we mention.

And, since Amélie is today's sole new member, I ask her for her hometown's name. She says she was born in the 13th, grew up in the 5th, goes to school in the 1st arrondissement, and lives near Alésia in the 14th.

And this, folks, is how Alésia gets to become this week's 'City of the Week.' It has been a stretch, but we've got it nailed down. And Amélie has a sort of a story which she has a deadline for, tomorrow - unlike mine.

Every Club Meeting Is Special

The next meeting of the Café Metropolephoto: happy birthday steam Club will be on Thursday, 31. October. This will not be a perfectly normal 44th Thursday in the year 2002 only seven days from now - because it will be the fifth Thursday in October. It'll be a 'bonus' Thursday.

Now that the club has steamy windows, maybe Tina Turner will join it.

Otherwise, the Saint's Day is Saint-Quentin. Besides being a saint, about whom nothing is mentioned in my saint's book, it is also a town in the Aisne on the Somme river. It was assaulted in 1557 and was the scene of a valiant defense in 1871, by Faidherbe. There are other Saint-Quentins around, both in France and in the United States, plus it is also a canal 92 kilometres long. Make it your fête if it's your saint's or canal's birthday too.

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

By taking a look at the page called 'About the Café Metropole Club' you can learn how to become a member. However, if you are reading this 'report' of today's club meeting, becoming a member should be perfectly clear.

'Club rules' are so nearly nothing that they don't even have 'exceptions.' 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. While you may think this to too easy, it is still fairly easy to join.

Special Dubious Request

Whether you count 'Chinese-style' or not, please let your opinion be known about the official age of this club as it is today, after its 157th meeting. Is we are four, or only three?

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

Club meetings begin in Paris not before 15:00 on Thursday and continue until 17:00, in Europe's Central European Time Zone - which is 'CET' for short and not 'TICK' - andphoto: drinks on the house known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm in worldwide areas with a couple of daily sets of 12-hour-time.

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

A true 'first' - La Corona's entire first 'Round of the Week' on the house.

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 rare 'drinks on the house.' '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 honestly be appreciated by the other members present, if there are any, and if they are awake and listening - and by all readers of this online magazine, if they read it - if it should happen 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.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
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there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini