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The Truth About the 15th

photo: group, marion, larry, heather

Today's group of the week, from left, Marion, Larry and Heather.

French Cheeses In Luxembourg?

Paris:– Thursday, 15. April 2004:– In defiance of years of predictability, Easter's weather in Paris was atypically pleasant, especially on Easter Sunday when the sun was actually shining. It was a bonus for mankind and a slap in the face for my habitual Easter weather predictions.

However, Monday's predictions for semi–sunny weather on Tuesday and yesterday didn't pan out. The only thing correct was the forecast for today, which has turned out to be sunny and quite warm too.

This state of the skies is supposed to continue tomorrow, with a only a few minor clouds, and with a jolly temperature ofphoto: cafe of the week 19 degrees. Enjoy it if and while you can.

For Saturday promises no such luck. Westerly winds will blow waves of clouds over this area and the temperature will take a crash–dive to 15 degrees. This will be the same as at Easter, but without the sunshine.

Not a McCafé, but the real McCoy!

According to this morning's Le Parisien and tonight's TV–weather news, Sunday will not be a fine day unless you are somewhere near Strasbourg. In Paris rain is expected, and another temperature drop, to 14 degrees. This muck will linger on into Monday, according to the newspaper. Keep in form by eating all the vegetables you dislike intensely, if you believe in astrology.

This Week's Only 'Club Report of the Week'

Rays of sunshine everywhere in the air caused me to plan to leave early for the club meeting, to soak up some direct vitamin Ds that I am surely lacking on account of having had the mischance to buy some orange juice with mango in it.

The tall carton was orange–colored, so I assumed it was orange juice and I only noticed there was this 'mangue' in it at my turn at the checkout. Just thinking about what a foolish mistake I'd made probably made it taste more mangy than it would have been if I had not noticed it.

Sure enough, this morning it reeked of 'mangue.' I had to go out immediately and have a corrosive double–café to get rid of the taste.

Then alert club member Alena in Prague sent me a note about some bad code, and I had to fix what I could. So, when I did leave for the club I wasn't certain whether I'd get my 'Ds.' But I must have been quicker thanphoto: cats pajamas I thought, because there seemed to be plenty of time in hand when I reached the Métro entry at Raspail, so I turned my shoes north, in the direction of the Luxembourg gardens.

Ideally a walk that takes 45 minutes should be allotted 60, rather than the 40 minutes I had available. Most of the trees in the Luxembourg have fresh leaves, the grass is very green, and the flowerbeds are wildly colorful – and the park was not overfull even though school holidays began last Friday.

Some of Marion's cats on her pantaloons.

Member Larry Mann got to the club's café La Corona in time to see me arrive five minutes late. He is on a long visit here and has been riding the buses a lot to see everything. The first comment he makes is, "You are never going to see it all."

"What is the 15th like?" is his first question. I explain that until recently – about 1900 – it was like a cow pasture, about like what the area beyond the Cadillac Ranch in Essonne is still like. It was prairie.

It is also a big arrondissement, not particularly well–served by Métros and buses. If you go down to the Parc Georges Brassens, you are supposed to remember that it was the horse market when Paris was full of horses, before the Métro was built, co–incidently, in 1900.

Wow! Those horses. Try to imagine Paris full of horses. They hauled buses and freight wagons, and the racing fish wagons, and taxis too, and even the motorcycle delivery fellows – before they switched to cheaper bicycles. The horses ate a lot too. And today people complain bitterly about the antics of a few dogs.

The next member to arrive is Marion Nowak, who has come from Cologne to Paris for a bit of shopping. Marion explains that she has only recently taken up shopping. For Easter, she says, she couldn't help herself from buying 40€–worth of cheese, and she and Stephan still have most of it.

"Communists don't like shopping trips," she says. Stephan isn't a Communist, but he gets a little nervous when Marion goes shopping because she's a beginner. On this trip Marion will be going up to Barbés and Château Rouge to get some material to feed through her Bernina sewing machine.

Then one of those 'six–degrees' things happen, but reduced to two–degrees of separation. I have the 'cat question of the week' from member Sally Dilgart – to which nobody knows the answer – but Marion has cats sewn on to her pantaloons.

In fact, she sewed together her pantaloons and her shirt too, which has a 'Mucha' design on it. I can imagine her up at Château Rouge getting enough material to make Stephan 17 shirts he can't wear in public in Cologne.

Larry wants to know about the 'Smart' cars he sees around. These are made by the plastic–watch company Swatch and Mercedes Benz in, I believe, a factory in Eastern France. Also, I've heard that there are a fair number of bootlegged 'Smarts' rolling around in Hollywood.

It makes sense. When it is obviously impossible to buy the 'fastest' car in the world, or the world's 'biggest' SUV, thenphoto: smart car it's obvious to go in the other direction – towards slowest and smallest. In Paris, 'Smarts' are popular because you can park them illegally everywhere.

Like fleas here, this is hardly the 'Smart of the Week.'

Marion's other news from across the Rhine is that McDonald's has opened up a new venture called, 'McCafé.' She says their café isn't at all bad, but it's not that hard to get a good cup of café in Germany anyway. She says the 'McCafé' outlets don't sell any hamburgers, and they are brown outside instead of yellow.

At about this moment, or another one, member Heather Stimmler–Hall arrives, carrying a H&M bag. She says she has been shopping for something to wear to a wedding. She also says today was the day to do it because of a one–day 50 percent–off sale.

"Women over 50 kilos are not allowed to shop in that store," Marion sniffs. Heather says she is too big too, but couldn't resist '50 percent–off' and hopes what she got fits.

Larry wants to know why Paris department stores are so hot. "They must be 30 to 35 degrees," he says. Actually he says fahrenheit temperatures, which are astronomical, so I have divided them by 22–sevenths and subtracted 32. Or is this the formula for leap–years?

As usual there is a new 'Waiter of the Week,' but the three members are not in a great mood of consumption. For the firstphoto: willy bird and friend time in quite a while Willy the Bird flies into the café's 'grande salle' and brings some friends with him. Maybe one is his girlfriend.

The sparrows do not give much more than a peek at the crumb situation in the club's area before flying all the way back through the café and out the front door. They could have flown out the side door which is wide open.

Here is Willy! Could that be Mrs. Willy?

After more talk about how Germans near the frontiers shop for gas in Luxembourg and French stuff in hypermarchés like Carrefour – or do they buy gas at the hypermarchés and get French cheeses in Luxembourg? Not many people in Paris are aware of all the cheap fun people living near the borders have.

Marion also puts in a plug for learning French at the Sorbonne. The only drawback, she says, is that the course is two–thirds 'French civilization' and it is not easy memorizing the names of all the kings from Clovis to 1870.

I think she says she has failed to remember the kings part three times, but I may have misheard her on account of all the 'Smart' cars going by on the Quai du Louvre that I point out to Larry too late for him to see.

Even though this is a meeting without a 'City of the Week' or a 'Drink of the Week' or anything else 'of the week' except maybe 'shopping,' we continue on past 17:00. It is quiet in the café, compared to the rush–hour chaos outside. It is warm and comfortable too.

Contest Deadline Nears

Don't wait to send in your entries for the fabulous Bumper–sticker Slogan Contest that is running jointly in Heather's Secrets of Paris newsletter and in Metropole.

To enter you should submit very short slogans that sum up Paris and France positively in a few clevertoon: 2cv with bumper sticker words that will fit on a bumper–sticker. The deadline for entries is Thursday, 22. April, one week from today.

There will be a suitably 'grand' prize for the best slogan, and nine runner–up prizes for the next best ones. The promised 'grand prize' is being somewhat elusive, so Heather and I have just as 'suitable' – and just as good – fallback prizes planned.

The judging of the entries will be held at the club meeting on Thursday, 29. April. All members who are present will be asked to assist with choosing the winners. You can find the few details about the contest on the aptly– named Contest page.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

This short 'report' about today's club's meeting should give you a hint of the casual times to be had at some club meetings. The 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has all the additional information you need to know about joining. Luckily, it is practically nothing.

Become a real lifetime member of this online magazine's real, live and free club by becoming a member in seconds by attending any of its meetings in Paris, for free. There are no hidden costs, or 'rules.' What 'rules' there were, were abolished by the club's members long ago.

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

The weekly Thursday club meetings start around 15:00, on days that have Thursday afternoons. Meetings continue until about 17:00, in the European Time of Paris' annual 'semi–real spring' – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'les temps douces de avril' although they are sometimes – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Paris is where all club meetings are held.

Doing anything at a meeting – like being at one – is considered the opposite of not being at one. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'first' having a slightly greater 'report' value over 'true.' Actually 'true' is acceptable too, especially if it's remotely plausible and is impervious to lawsuits.

One note of caution – you may have any one of a hundred personal reasons for not wanting to be traceable viagraphic: club location map the Web. If so, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be '404 – not found' by Web search engines before becoming 'found' in a club report.

Former 'rules' are 'former' and have been eliminated from the club's chronicles except for all the latter ones still online buried deep in the archives, which you can read if you are at loose ends. All 'exceptions' to any other 'rules' have been suspended forever, quite a bit like all the 'rules' except one.

Saying stuff at meetings is fine. If there's an empty chair sit – optional – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. If they are listening, whatever you say may be honestly appreciated by other club members present, and there usually are some – and if it should chance to be written here, as some of it is occasionally.*

*The above paragraphs are unchanged since last week because club members don't care what Communists think about 'shopping.'

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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