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More 'Firsts' Than Ever

photo: group, tomoko, bill, aloisia, james, ruth

Today's group of the week, from left, Tomoko, Bill,
Aloisia, James and Ruth.

'Hoboken of Germany' Is One

Paris:– Thursday, 22. April 2004:– This half–weekly update of the weather forecast is simple and short. The season known in other parts of the world as 'spring' has returned to this part of the world.

Tomorrow will start out partly sunny and may stay partly sunny, which is a lot better than partly cloudy, even though this is how pessimists will view it. The high temperature is predicted to be 19 degrees, which is supposed to be 'normal' for this time of year.

Both Saturday and Sunday have totally sunny forecasts, with the usual minor quibbles about morning mists 'up in the north' somewhere. The high temperature for both days is supposed to be considerably higher than 'normal,' at 20 degrees.

Going out on a limb, even next Monday is supposed to be somewhat the same, but with a drop back to a 'normal' temperature. While on the subject, today's prediction for waves of rain to cross Paris from west to east, turned out to be flawed. It has been dry, sunny and quite warm all day.

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

While walking along the Quai du Louvre wearing no sweater and no winter coat, Patrick 'the waiter of the week' stops me when I am at the beginning of the terrace of the club's café, La Corona.

"There are civilians in the club's area," he whispers conspiratorially. "But they will be finished soon." The reason the club does not hold its meeting out on the café's terrace on mild days, is on account of the incessant noise of traffic – andphoto: patrick the waiter of the week racket of birds maddened by spring, when there are lulls in the traffic.

Inside the café the management guarding the bar is sleepy. All of the café's doors and windows are open, and the interior seems like the lounge of a passenger liner just as it has passed into the latitude of the Azores. Everybody is outside, on deck, throwing spare luncheon frites at the starving gulls.

Patrick was the club's first 'Waiter of the Week,' and still is.

Club member James MacNeil is waiting for me in the club's area of the café's 'grande salle' and there really are civilians in the club's proper area. A passing Patrick is surprised that he missed typing James as a club member, and repeats the message he gave me outside.

Just as James is telling me about living 22 years in the Heidelberg area and I am remembering that he told me this before, a lady pops up suddenly to tell me about her apartment that she wants to rent to either readers or club members.

The lady is not sure whether she is a club member or not. However the club's records show that Susanne Farah became a member during a somewhat rowdy meeting in May of 2002. Everybody who was at it should remember it clearly even if they've forgotten the rest of 2002.

Although unorthodox to mention it here – the apartment is a roomy one–bedroom fully–equipped and fully–furnished one in a very good Montmartre location. It is available for up to three–month periods – with the next beginning in June. Because Susanne thinks club members are cultivated and discerning, the rent she mentions is so unbelievably low that I whistle. Email the club's secretary for details if you think you are interested.

With the message delivered, Susanne departs, most likely to visit a steam bath. The nearby civilians have also left, so James and I scoot over to the club's proper area, where he begins telling me about exciting times with 'multi–terragiga' databases.

Thrown in as bonuses are some geography lessons about Germany near Heidelberg – he says, "Ludwigshavenphoto: cognac drink of the week is the Hoboken of Germany," for example. I have see Hoboken from the ferry, but never Ludwigshaven, from anything.

The 'Cocktail of the Week' is cognac.

Not a moment too soon, Aloisia Gabat is sitting down across the table from us. She tells us about living in some place nearby that only has access to Paris by way of La Défense. But she has an alternate place in Montrouge, and is surprised that I am in favor of this because it is nowhere near La Défense.

Meanwhile, James figures out that La Defénse is 'the glug of concrete.' Or did he say 'gulag?' Aloisia has come to Paris by an extremely round–about route, which she has mentioned before and I have forgotten before.

Ruth and Bill Rosenthal arrive. Bill wrote some months ago to say that he is no relation to club member Lewis Rosenthal, and asked if Lewis might not be an imposter. At the time I assured Bill that Lewis is very real, but came from the other side of the United States, opposite from East Lansing, Michigan – longitudely speaking.

Bill became a club member three years ago, and Ruth becomes one today. After attending his last club meeting, Bill wrote to say that he would be a 'little late' for the next one. It's amazing how whole families join this club. It's too bad there are no membership fees to discount for family memberships, but a small club like this can't have all the bells and whistles.

With a proper flourish, Bill orders the 'Drink of the Week' from Patrick – two balloons of cognac. I think this may be a club 'first,' but the 'search–for' software is too tired tonight to verify this important club milestone.

Tomoko Yokomitsu joins the meeting as Bill tells us that he and Ruth are staying in the Hotel Chopin, in the Passage Jouffroy. This is a 'first' for the club too – the first members known to have stayed in a Paris passage.

But wait! Bill has another true 'first.' He says he has just come from a short four–hour sessionphoto: heidelberg logo at Le Nôtre, where he learned all there is to know about making croissants that can be learned in four short hours.

When he says, "The Perfect Croissant," James begins to hop on his seat. Bill says, "It is not – puffy or much too light and it is not always a crescent shape. These are the non–Turkish–shaped croissants!"

James says, "A little crisp on the ends..." and Bill says, "Right!" Oh, the croissant lore!

"Good ones," Bill continues with James inhaling every word, "Good ones pull apart, there's a lot of separation of layers – the butter has not melted out of the layers – it STAYS in the layers – all 64 of them!"

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