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''It's Been 103 Weeks''

photo: shirley, walter, steve c, laurel, dennis, nigel, tomoko, steve f

Shirley, Walter, Steve C, Laurel, Dennis, Nigel,
Tomoko and Steve F.

And Almost as Many Meetings

Paris:- Thursday, 30. October 2003:- The weather in Paris is not really worth writing much about, even if I usually write far too much about it. Take yesterday - it was kind of raining, sort of an off-and-on drizzle all day, and there was a bone-penetrating cold to it.

Today has been the same, with the added discouragement of having a bit of a breeze. If you are here you know this, but if you aren't here I can't fathom what interest it could possibly be. Ukky weather in Paris today. So what!

But, of course if you intend to arrive tomorrow - well then tomorrow has a story you wantphoto: beer of the week to hear. Sky-wise, I think it is going to stay the same, maybe with some periods of timid sun. Same thing, according to tonight's TV-weather news, for Saturday.

The odd element in the forecast are the temperatures. For some time now we've been getting along with 10 degrees or less, but tomorrow's predicted high is supposed to be 15. Then Saturday returns to near normal with 11 degrees.

The 'Beer of the Week' hasn't been seen in a long time.

But the most normal weather might be on Sunday, with partly sunny skies all day and a high temperature forecast to be 12. This sounds about right for November. All you have to watch out for is the warning about heavy rains in the area of the eastern Riviera, for tomorrow. There is an 'orange' warning for the area.

Today's Club Meeting 'Report'

Nigel White is in Paris doing an escape artist routine from springtime in Oz and he joins me for the Métro ride to Châtelet, after catching up to me while I slog through the crispy leaves littering the sidewalk on the Rue Emile Richard on the way to the station at Raspail.

We get a tidy Métro wagon right away and quickly reach the métro's exit on the Rue de Rivoli, and then wander through the usual old and narrow streets to the Pont Neuf, where absolutely nothing unusual is happening. Nothing on the ground and nothing in the sky.

There are no hardy souls on the café terraces lining the Quai du Louvre between the Samaritaine and the club café, La Corona. Monsieur Ferrat is outside surveying the empty terrace when we arrive.

Inside, Patrick says there are civilians in the club's usual location in the café's 'grandephoto: all day ham sandwich salle.' They are not many and we sit beside them, but club member Steve Flattem makes himself known, and Laurel Avery arrives a couple of minutes later, right at 15:00.

Nor has the 'Large Ham Sandwich of the Week.'

Patrick,' our 'Waiter of the Week,' suggests we take up the area we used for last week's meeting - in the club area, but all along the rear wall. This space will snugly hold a dozen members.

Almost the first thing Steve says - to Nigel - is, "It's been 103 weeks since we were at the last meeting together." Yes, readers and members, Steve remembers being at meeting 110 on 15. November 2001, when Nigel was also present. I think, maybe Steve would do a better club secretary job than me.

Within a couple of minutes Shirley and Walter Pappas are with us too. The Pappas attended their first club meeting in October of 2000. Walter, in ordering something drinkable, starts to tell Patrick, "In Geneva they say...," but Shirley points out, "But we're not in Geneva."

According to the notes taken during the meeting, there is a temporary mix-up when some of these land in the members' booklet. Steve, who comes from Burnsville - motto: 'Ten minutes south of the Mall of America' - mentions 'Crispy-Cream Donuts' now being on sale at Harrod's in London.

The club's secretary wonders why 'Crispy-Cream Donuts' sound familiar. Back in the club reports booklet, I see that Tomoko Yokomitsu may have arrived before the Pappas, because she says to Nigel, "I hope in 20 years you'll be able to give lessons in Australian accents."

Maybe. Nigel's problem is that he lived in Washington DC for about 20 years, has just come from there, and originally had a New Zealand accent, if they have them there. To cover up explaining all this Nigel orders the 'Sandwich of the Week.'

Tomoko wants to know everything though, because I hear Steve pinpointing Burnsville by saying, "It is five, or six, or seven, or maybe eight hours drive west of Chicago." Whatever it is, it has already been the 'City of the Week.' To clear up the location for all, he adds, "We have mosquitos, but not as big as the Canadian ones."

The café Tomoko has ordered, she calls 'American Coffee' because it is 'déca alongé, which Matt Rose - who is not a member yet - drinks too because it is larger than a double-espresso, at half the price and a third the strength.

At this point, or one slightly before or later, Walter shows us his newest high-tech acquisition. It is a portable telephone-camera-mini-computer, and he shows me a photo he has taken of Shirley's rosé with it. The picture before this is a drawing of a horse that he tookphoto: wine of the week yesterday at the Musée de la Serrurerie in the Rue de la Perle in the Marais. If you like locks, keyholes and keys, you'll like this place, according to Walter.

Shirley says, "I still haven't seen the locks." Instead, they saw a temporary exhibition of 'balanced' sculpture there.

I smell chocolate and see that Steve is drinking some of its hot version. He also has a plastic bag from the Salon du Chocolate, and says the stuff in his cup isn't as good as the stuff at the salon.

And a return for the 'White Wine of the Week' too.

About here, let's say, Steve Camera-Murray arrives, also with a plastic sack from the Salon du Chocolat. The main reason the second Steve is living in Paris is to taste everything here at least once. His eyes widen considerably as he mentions the 'molten chocolate' he saw at the salon.

Dennis Moyer comes up shortly later, spouting his usual fountain of Marx Brothers dialogue, with additional bits from the Three Stooges and some of Mae West's classical lines.

Steve, the second, asks me where he can get 120 film developed, or where he can get his Chinese 120 camera fixed, or both. Caméra Müller in the Rue des Plantes is always the answer to any questions like these - although they've never bothered thanking me for sending all the people with oddball photographic requests.

Shirley, Walter and Laurel, all begin to rave about the bus 69. Apparently this bus line is the one to take to reach civilization from the 7th arrondissement. Walter says, "It brings you from corner to corner."

I hear Dennis on the other side of the table describing a recent evening - last night actually - as, "Twophoto: photo phone, walter and a half pichets at Le Bouquet, then some pichets in the..." which gets swallowed until, "I fell into bad company, like Pinocchio."

Where to spend - in which cemetery - Toussaint, is discussed. Dennis says the cemeteries here are neat places because you can walk around all these famous historical dead people. "These people really lived," he says.

Steve says, "I only got as far as decomposing Mozart."

Walter shows members his 'Magic Phone of the Week.'

Then it is Halloween time at the club. Steve says he will only put his mask on if it is photographed. The club's secretary promises to do it. Steve puts it on. Everybody says it is a very fine mask, especially since it has come all the way from Burnsville.

"I am not embarrassed by us," Dennis says, adding, "I'm drinking wine. There's Marx Brothers movies 300 days a year here to give me hope."

"Gatherings by more than three people are illegal," someone says. "What about the Marx Brothers?" Dennis counters. Then philosophically adds, "Mae West is my favorite American philosopher."

There is silence while this sinks in, until somebody - I can't keep members' names straight any more - says, "Mickey Rooney is alive and still performing in Northern California."

It is about what we are talking about - how performers, comedians - talked faster in the 1930s because their audiences were faster listeners. These club members, performers, are faster talkers than the secretary can listen. Much faster than the secretary can produce legible notes.

Walter plugs the Edith Piaf exhibition at the Hôtel de Ville's Salon d'Acceuil. "Veryphoto: halloween, steve f moving," he says. Steve, the first, plugs the flying firm EasyJet, because of the two hostesses they usually have do everything except land the planes.

When Steve is wearing his 'Halloween Mask of the Week,' you can't tell he is Steve.

Steve mentions the tricks connected with reading ads for apartments for rent. "Traditional means there's no elevator," he says. "Traditional, 50 square metres and 40€ a night means it's on the 8th floor with no elevator."

Near 17:00, Steve startles the rest of us - except Steve the second, who has already left - by saying, "My goal is to see Nigel here again in 103 weeks." Patrick, the 'Waiter of the Week,' calmly gathers the money for the 'Drinks of the Week' and the 'Food of the Week,' thus ending the only 'Meeting of the Week' of the Café Metropole Club this week.

Club Members and Readers Like You

The recent alerts about Metropole's shaky situation have ignited the useful idea of voluntary contributions to support the magazine. This is now possible and you can ensure that Metropole Paris and the Café Metropole Club continue to exist and have 'Meetings of the Week.' Please take a look at the new 'Keep Metropole Flying' page and do what you can today.

The Café Metropole Club's ex-rules forbid membership dues because club membership is free, as is its free membership card. I think a practical solution to get around this problem might be to ask club members to read the rest of the magazine, which has just become 'shareware.'

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' About Page

Writing a club meeting report is a lot of fun when Nigel is visiting from Australia. He lets me do this until it is time to tell me how many pichets Dennis has downed on Daguerre. After he is finished this saga, I get to do the rest of the 'report.' Also take a look at the 'About the Café Metropole Club' page. It will tell you very little more than you need to know, if this much.

One other fact - there are only about two - is worth remembering. You can become a lifetime member of this online magazine's free, live, and real club by simply attending any of its meetings in Paris. There's no real point in knowing anything about the other 'fact.'

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

The weekly club meetings still start about 15:00 sharp on Thursdays and continue until about 17:00, in the European Time of Paris Zone - which is really 'CET' for short and not 'FiZZZ' - and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm. Paris is the only part of the world where these meetings happen although there are lots of other groovy places with metrical times.

Doing anything at a meeting the day before Halloween is tolerated. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'first' having a greater 'report' value than 'true.' Don't get me wrong - 'true' isgraphic: club location map okay too. The week's 'no-shows' are never counted as not having attended a meeting. This is a special no-purpose case rather than a regular club ex-'rule' or French-type 'exception.'

If you prefer to be 'not found' on the Internet, please let the club's secretary know before you become mildly famous for a week. If necessary you can even be at a meeting and not be at it. 'No rules' have ceased being an 'exception' and are still 'ex-rules.' There were some other 'exceptions,' but they were sold to a used word shop recently.

Talking in multiple languages at meetings is fine. Dancing may be permitted too. Sit wherever you like. Whatever you say may be honestly appreciated by the other members present, if they are listening, which they really do sometimes - and by all readers of this online magazine, if it happens to be written here, as some of it is, sometimes, but not always.*

*The above paragraphs are unchanged since last week because only Patrick knows the number of this week's 'Drinks of the Week.'

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

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Waldo Bini