Mark Kritz' First 'First'

photo: group, linda, bill, beth, will

From left, the 'Group of the Week' - Linda, Bill, Beth
and Will, lacking one wristwatch.

''Why Would I have Half a Clue?''

Paris:- Thursday, 17. April 2003:- This week's bad news about the good weather is that it isn't going to last forever. This afternoon Monsieur Ferrat complained to me that it is too hot. I can remember folks in southern Spain complaining about the same thing at the same time of year - but they were anticipating it getting steadily hotter.

We, here, in Paris, can expect no such future. Our faux-summer, which got into high gear yesterday, continues today and will probably carry on tomorrow, and then - and then it'll dump like a stone to a level quite 'acceptable' for spring in Scotland.

After three whole days of stunning sunshine and really respectable temperatures, we have an Easter weekend to look forward to. All right! It isn't going to snow, there isn't going to be any sleeting rain. But it is going to try very hard.

Since I have one more day ahead of me to go around wearing my calypso summer shirts and taking photos of residentsphoto: mark kritz wiggling their toes in every available fountain and lying around hardly clothed on all the grass that the city has said we can lie around on, on account of it being 'open grass' season, I fully intend to do it.

You are warned. The colorful photos in next Monday's edition will be true photos of Paris' faux-summer that was. But come to think of it, it might not be the only faux-summer this spring. The weather seems to be acting like a yoyo - up, down, up, down.

Mark survived Navy coffee, settles for 'soup of the day.'

This means, that if you intended to bring your raincoat and galoshes and you do, and it turns out this is just useless baggage - no complaining! Nobody here cares about the raincoat you don't have to wear.

With these thoughts drifting hazily in my mind I go down the stairs and out the door and down the street as far as the 'Chez Papa' sign and turn left and walk down Paris' only street without house numbers to the métro at Raspail, where a number four train arrives a minute after and whisks me through underground tunnels to the Odéon station, where I bail out to walk the rest of the way to Pont-Neuf.

On the bridge, I immediately notice that a formerly deserted city - on account of Easter holidays for school kids - seems full of sun lovers strolling all over everywhere. Looking over the sides of the bridge I see them lolling on the quays on the left bank, on the Ile de la Cité and over on the right bank, and crawling past all the bouquinistes lining the sidewalks.

At the news kiosk in front of Samaritaine I buy today's Le Parisien. Its big front-page headline says, "C'est l'été!" After its blah-blah about how even working people are benefitting and the kids are going crazy in the water jets at the André-Citroën park, its reminds us of a risk of drought in 'certain' departments.

Yes, we need to worry about this. I am already worried. While the trees are very proud of their new light green - almost transparent - leaves, in many places the grass looks fried. How has this happened? When did it happen?

Just as I approach the terrace of the club's café La Corona, member Mark Kritz steps outside to see if the club's secretary is on the horizon. Since it is 15:00, he is closer than the horizon, a fact that Mark quickly notices.

Inside the café's grande salle it is not cooler but it is a lot shadier. All the café's windows are open, so the traffic noise is about as loud as it is outside, but it is a bit calmer because there are no scooters in the café.

Mark orders a grande crême. This is the café that comes in a soup bowl with two handles. "I don't think Monsieur Ferrat is putting much café in my soup," Mark says.

I am still interested in what sailors get to eat in the Navy and Mark knows a bit about this. He says the food he had on a destroyer wasn't special, except for the time he bought a hugephoto: soup of the week, cafe red snapper for two dollars and the cook did a special job on it, for the officers who weren't ashore. "We nearly ate the whole thing."

Today's café-flavored 'Soup of the Week.'

Then he shakes his head and says, "The coffee was ghastly - everywhere in the Navy. It would turn gray when you put milk in it."

Suddenly we are surrounded by Colshers. They, Beth Colsher, Bill Colsher and Will Colsher, have been out walking. They sit down at opposite ends of the club's tables, as if they've been too close to everybody for too long.

This isn't the case. They have merely been walking for too long. Bill is the club 'report' reader and Beth and Will - all they know is they get to sit down in a shady café.

On Tuesday, the hottest day of the year, they walked up the stairs to the Tour Eiffel's second level. There they found they could not buy a ticket to the third level, and it was far too high to climb. Earlier today they tackled the 242 steps up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

The Colshers arrived on Monday with all their rainy weather gear, on a huge jet plane with only about 80 passengers. Everyone got a whole row of seats. There was legroom galore and lots of inflight movies to spare.

The Colshers also come from a 'City of the Week.' This is Winnewood, Pennsylvania. This is good because they used to live in Chicago. There's nothing wrong with Chicago, but it has already been a 'City of the Week.'

They have come to the club straight from the Louvre. They say there were only about 80 people inside the museum, so they got a good look at the Mona Lisa. This shatters my theory that the best time to go see it is on a damp and rainy Sunday morning in November of 1978.

Will Colsher, unlike his parents, is on his first visit to Paris. He has three problems here. Every time he buys a ticket to something he has o prove he is only 17 years old. He isn't sure he likes 'frisée' lettuce. And he hasn't found the best place to watch Paris girls yet.

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