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'Big Moment of the Year'

photo: francine, robert, amy, gay, ron, tomoko, heather, brenna, stan, bill

The 'Group of the Week' lineup, from left – Francine, Robert,
Amy, Gay, Ron, Tomoko, Heather, Brenna, Stan and Bill.

Is Muffed by Club's Secretary

Paris:– Thursday, 13. May 2004:– After a perfectly fine and good spring day yesterday, the weather just can't keep it up today. There's a wind hustling across the city from the west – perhaps pouring out of some cool offshore bank of fog, for it is not warm.

Despite being cooler than predicted, tonight's TV–weather news is forecasting clearer skies and much warmer temperatures for tomorrow, and especially for the weekend.

Friday's semi–sunny outlook will be threatened by a wave of clouds coming from the western ocean. If it doesn't quite get here, we should have temperatures around 19 degrees. The TV–weather news didn't say what we'd have if these clouds do get here. Maybe a high of 13 is my guess. I hope I'm wrong. I've been wrong more than once before.

Mostly sunny for Saturday and Sunday should push the temperatures above 20 degrees. The TV–weather news seemed pretty certain about this, with an out–on–a–limb forecast of 22 degrees for Sunday.

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

Because of a slight chance of the 'France–Is–Good' bumper–sticker slogan contestphoto: hot chocolate of the week winner being at the club meeting today, I put the winner's first prize in my bag last night so I wouldn't forget it. I even found an envelope full of 4th–place prizes, and put them in my bag too.

Thus armed, with nothing forgotten, I set out for the club. Wind blows me down the sidewalk to the corner of the cemetery where I cross the street and go between the two parts of the cemetery, to the Métro at Raspail.

The 'Hot Chocolate of the Week.'

At Châtelet I skip all thoughts of strolling along Rivoli. This week I am avoiding amateur walkers. I glide through my alleys, right, left, right, left, right, and join the quay beside Conforama and scan the posters while crossing in front of Samaritaine.

There are no hardy types getting glazed on the terrace of the club's café, La Corona. It is too fresh for it. In the café's 'grande salle' there are more after–lunch lingerers than usual. The 'Waiter of the Week' confirms his order to bring my double–espresso cup of café at 16:00.

In the club's area I find Stan Fleener. He says his daughter will be with us shortly. Brenna shows up, borrows 20 cents from Stan and disappears again. When Brenna returns for good I learn that she lives in Rome and plays water polo in Florence.

And in Rome she works for an online city guide called Context Rome. She says all she sees in Florence is the pool. I guess that Brenna is having a busman's holiday in Paris.

Stan says he's been batting around in the bottom of the 14th arrondissement, down by the Parc Montsouris, which has made him think of Henry Miller and Lawrence Durell, and the 'Alexandria Quartet.' When I have been down there, not so far away from where I am most of the time, it has never occurred to me to think of Henry Miller. Instead I think of V. I. Lenin having Sunday lunches in the park.

Heather Stimmler–Hall arrives and begins telling us about questions she receives from her readers – like, 'where to find jazz for nothing for broke people.' Meanwhile Stan plugs the Depardon photo expo about the Olympics at the Hôtel de Ville – et voilà – free expos for people who aren't broke.

Gay Sickles and Ron Sellers arrive. Both are from Texas and both became club members last year, but not at the same time. Gay is the last member to have answered all of the club's informal questions, so she skips them entirely this time. Most members skip them entirely all the time.

Then there is a lady who looks familiar, but turns out to be at the club for the first time in either of our lives. It is Francinephoto: heather, contest winner francine Harcourt Caplan, the one and only 'France–Is–Not–So–Bad' bumper–sticker slogan contest grand prize winner. Wow!

Heather pretends to give Francine the 'grand prize' which Francine pretends to accept.

Francine is with Robert Caplan, of New Haven, Connecticut, and Amy Caplan, of Paris. A check shows that New Haven is eligible for the 'City of the Week' award too. Francine and Robert aren't here only to visit Amy, but also to attend the symposium being put on tomorrow by the American Club of Paris.

Another new member arrives, and it is Bill Kosar from Sarasota, Florida, who says he has read the 'About the Club' page. For this I decide to name Sarasota as 'Co–City of the Week,' which is a 'first.'

And now I get to show just how organized this club is. I dip into my bag and smartly haul out the dark blue France Montgolfières ticket envelope. Before presenting it to Francine I glance inside it.

Inside it there is a brochure, but no ticket, no first prize. There is no ticket anywhere in my bag. How humiliating! This was to be the 'Big Moment of the Year.'

The ticket is not lost but it is not at the club meeting today. Francine looks a bit worried. She's come all this way from New Haven and she's already booked the balloon flight for Sunday, and she wants – no, needs! – deserves! – the prize ticket. I haven't a clue wheregraphic: liberte started here, winning slogan it is if it isn't in the envelope, and it isn't in it.

Francine's winning slogan.

All the same, Francine agrees to the staging of the 'winner receiving the grand prize' photo together with Heather. I am so rattled that it takes four shots. We agree that I am to bring the ticket tomorrow to the symposium at the American Club and hand it over. This will be cutting it fine – where is the dern thing?

This was pre–planned to be a happy meeting. Francine tells me that Amy just got her 'carte de sejour.' It is like a birthday for her. Getting a 'carte de sejour' is like the relief felt from passing the BAC with flying colors on the first try. Tonight's TV–news shows an 80–year–old guy getting ready for his third try. He failed his first one in 1940.

photo: book, a meal observed, andrew todhunterGay tells us about staying in Paris. She says the limit is six months less one day, while everybody else thought it was only three months. She says she has to win the Loto to be able to afford buying an apartment here.

Tomoko Yokomitsu arrives, and helps Bill to look at his city map. Members are always doing this at club meetings. Sometimes they just compare maps rather than look for places.

Ron's whole book about one meal.

At the other end of the club's tables Ron had said something about the book 'Born To Shop' by Suzy Gershwin. I am too rattled to follow anything carefully. This Suzy also started out in Texas, but I do not hear whether this reflects on Texas or her.

Ron has another book to praise. It is 'A Meal Observed' by Andrew Todhunter. It is supposed to be about exactly one long and luxurious meal at the restaurant Taillevent. I guess it is okay – it is thinner than most cookbooks.

Bill says, "I had a different image of this café." I look around, wondering what it is supposed to look like. It looks like it always does to me, at this 237th club meeting. To prove it, Willy the Bird flies into the club's area and puts one of his beady eyes on us for a few seconds.

At 16:30 I leap up and start harassing the members about the 'Group Photo of the Week.' There is nothing to worryphoto: tomoko, bill, map book about because this has been done before, even though it is the first time for today's new members. Outside the café on its terrace, everybody compacts nicely and I do not back into the street full of racing traffic. Two shots out of four are good, and four shots out of four show 20 eyeballs.

Tomoko searches for a tiny Paris street, for Bill.

Back inside it is the final half hour, and Tomoko gives us her customary tips for being extras in movies. "You have to lie about your experience," she says. In the Shakespeare thing she's in she says she doesn't have 'even one line.'

Tomoko is like a walking events calendar. Just about every week she talks up something going on. She says that next Tuesday there will be Beatles look–alikes at the Petit Journal Montparnasse in the Rue de Commandant– René–Mouchette.

She says they won't be as good as the Beatles, and then tells us the addresses of all the best Yakitori places. She isn't sure if the one in Montparnasse is in the Rue Montparnasse or the Rue Delambre. Neither am I.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

This 'report' about today's club's meeting should give you a thorough notion of the exciting times to be had at somephoto: flotilla cafe cups club meetings. The 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has all the additional information you need to know about the club.

The leftover and empty bowls of café and chocolate.

You can 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. The 'rules' were eliminated by the club's members long ago. It's other claim to fame is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that neglects to send you a newsletter. This is all there is.

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

The weekly club meetings normally start about 15:00, on days that have Thursday afternoons. Meetings continue until about 17:00, in the somewhat greater European Time of Paris' – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'les temps humides du mai' although they sometimes are – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. All club meetings are mostly held in Paris.

Doing anything clever at a meeting – like being at one – is considered the opposite of not being at one. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'first' having a much greater 'report' value than 'true.' 'True' is perfectly acceptable too, especially if it's sort of plausible.

Only one note of caution – you may have any one of a hundred personal reasons for not wanting to be traceable via 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 one of these club reports.photo: street signs

Former 'rules' remain 'former' week after week and have been eliminated from the club's volumes of chronicles except for all the original rules still online buried deep in the archives, which you can read if you can find them. All 'exceptions' to any other 'rules' have been suspended forever, quite a bit like all the 'rules.'

Talking to other club members 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 members present, and there usually are some – and if it should chance to be written here, as some of it is, sometimes.*

*The above paragraphs are unchanged since last week because of the club secretary's lack of attention to details.

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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Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini