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The Real Turtle Soup

photo: group, doug fuss, tomoko yokomitsu,

From left to right, the 'Group Photo of the Week'
with Doug and Tomoko.

Watches Mocked Too

Paris:- Thursday, 11. December 2003:- It is not a fit day for women, men, little kids, grandmothers, policemen, dogs or the club's secretary. At the time to leave for today's meeting it is raining hard and it is as cold as the unheated cemetery across the street.

Tuesday's forecast of 'much warmer' for today isn't at the rendez-vous. Far, far from it. No '100 percent' increase. If anything it is colder than it was yesterday - which was sunny without warmth - but today has the chill-to-the-bone feeling of a port city on a nasty coast - of Patagonia?.

Okay, enough of the 'faux' drama. Both this morning's Le Parisien and tonight's TV-weather news arephoto: terrace table, rain saying that it'll be mostly sunny tomorrow, and today's fake seven degrees will be eight. Well, both of them also say there will be a wind from the southwest, which will be warmer in principle. But it pushes too hard, we'll have Saturday's weather instead.

Not a real thrilling terrace day in December.

Saturday has a predicted high of 11 degrees, but only elusive sunny periods are expected to shine between the clouds. But ho! For Sunday the wind is supposed to wheel around to blow at us from the northwest. This direction never brings warmer weather.

In fact, although sunshine is forecast, the temperature should reach a high of nine. Stunning optimism is this high. My guess is the wind will indeed shift around, but whatever 'average temperatures for December' are reached, they will be ultra cool.

Rare Club Dismal Day Meeting 'Report'

There are few dogs about on the drenched way to today's club meeting. Steady rain is augmented by extra cupfuls of water tossed from tree branches on pedestrians passing between the walls of the cemetery. 'Pedestrians' should be singular because I am solo in the showers-plus.

Coming out of the Métro at Châtelet I feel like a salmon swimming upstream. The Rue de Rivoli's neons are desperate. My back streets are deserted and shining-black wet. There are no sightseers, beggars, lost visitors. Citizens are huddling under any cover they can find at the Pont Neuf.

The cafés along the Quai du Louvre contain leftover refugees behind steamed windows. Not only are the terraces empty, but the 'patrons' of the cafés are not even on the lookout for shipwreck survivors.

The club's café, La Corona, seems forsaken. Customers are not only not in it, but the air feels like they'll never be coming back. It's like a village post office in a town abandoned in 1948.

Patrick, the club's 'Waiter of the Week,' helps me set up the club's gear - which mostly consists of hanging my coat on a chair to dry, and putting my hat and gloves on a table for the same reason. In the members and reports' booklets I write, 'meeting 215/07.' Adding, 'cold, steady rain.'

Then Patrick and I discuss the world's geopolitical situation. The world aside, he thinks France hasn't been right since the Tour Montparnasse was thrown up.

Odd then that Valéry Giscard d'Estaing will become immortal - forever! - today - at the same timephoto: chinese rolex as today's meeting - at the Académie Française just across the Seine - less than unamiously. A doubtful candidate - a politician but not a writer - but one who has just overseen the written draft of a first European constitution.

Who would go to the silk market for a watch?

Today's first club member to arrive is Doug Fuss, wearing a 'Yankees' baseball cap. Since Doug is passing through Paris after a month-long mission for USAID in Skopje, Macedonia, this becomes the 'City of the Week.' Doug takes on a couple of these missions a year, and has visited many interesting places that I can't spell without the aid of a recent atlas.

Doug sent the photo of the 'Fiat 600 of the Week' that was in this week's late Café Metropole column. These cars are not native to Macedonia. Whole factories for making them were once exported to selected countries, and the former Yugoslavia was one of them. Now Macedonia seeks to export software so it can have new BMWs instead.

A short while later Tomoko Yokomitsu, the club's movie star, arrives. She has carelessly left her hands exposed to the elements. It must be a habit from working 'on location.'

But she is modest when Doug asks her if she is a 'movie star.' Every club member is one, but few have never had the opportunity of standing around all day in front of a one-eyed movie camera on an unheated soundstage.

My notes for today's meeting become sketchier than they've been until now. We discuss whether 'charges' forphoto: madonna la corona an apartment can be levied after years of not having any. Are they 'included' or not? Tomoko says that Japanese are good tenants because 'they are clean.'

Doug mentions that there is an 'gourmet' supermarket at Porte Maillot on a sub-floor of the congress centre - one that is open on Sundays until 20:00. This is handy if you are staying in one of the hotels near there. He has says he'd rather stay in the 'Hôtel du Gare' rather than in some business type of place.

The madonna of La Corona, again.

There are a lot of questions about what is going on in Paris. In the secretary's opinion, the only thing 'going on' is the 'idea of the week,' which is replaced by the following week's 'idea.' For example - reintroduction of school uniforms was worth only three days of newspaper and TV-news debate before it died.

The new 'skyscrapers in Paris' subject might have lasted a whole week. I didn't notice because I was wrestling with HTML code. For all I know the UMP party is looking for a new name because the old one isn't flying smoothly, because some of its allies aren't marching in time. It's not news.

About this, Doug suggests the question should be, 'is this the real turtle soup, or merely the mock?' I ask him how 'mock' is spelled. Doug says Cole Porter knows.

About 'mock,' when I atempt to photograph Doug's watch, he says, "My Chinese 'Rolex' - $15 in the silk market in Beijing." The real one stays in Savannah when he's on a mission in the Balkans.

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