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Bongo 253

photo, group, terry, tomoko, heather, maureen, kate, ron

Today's group – Terry, Tomoko, Heather, Maureen,
Kate and Ron.

Tomoko Returns!

Paris:– Thursday, 9. September 2004:– Today's weather has been stupendous, worthy of a very good day in July of any year, especially this one. Clouds, if there were any, were lonely. Gentle breezes puffed air warmed to near 30 degrees – it could have been 'National Terrace Day' if there were such a thing.

As of tonight, all this joy is supposed to be over. Spain, according to tonight's TV–weather news, is sending a depression this way. It is rare to get one of these from Spain, so maybe we should salute it.photo, champagne of the week

According to the prediction there will be a wide band of crummy weather stretching across France from the Pyrenees to the North Sea. There will be clouds, some with rain in them, and there may be brief winks of feeble sunlight, but it will be various degrees of disagreeable. Not so cold though, with a high of 25 degrees forecast.

Saturday will be slightly better, expected only to be cloudy, maybe rainy and lousy. And it will be cooler with a high of 23 degrees.

A classy drink at a classy club.

Sunday is supposed to be much clearer, with a big sunball hovering somewhere over the centre of France below Orléans, surrounded by a few puffs of inoffensive clouds. The downside to this is a day's high of 21 degrees, which might seem warm if we hadn't gotten used to nine or ten degrees more.

The First Club Report of the Week

Before leaving for today's club meeting I tie a mental string in my memory to remind myself to look for Le Parisien, which wasn't available at my regular newsstand this morning. I also pack my glasses so I can read anything in the paper smaller than headlines.

I leave a bit early to give myself time to be out in the balmy early afternoon, but have a hard time deciding where to leave the Métro. Maybe at Etienne Marcel, so I can walk through Les Halles? The Cité station's elevator is always an attraction, so this is the one I use.

The Ile de la Cité is baking. I buy a paper from the kiosque that's right there and throw away the mental string. Notre Dame is sitting where it usually is, cooking. The police préfecture, with all of its Libération photos, is dozing. The quays Marché Neuf and Orfèvres are sun–blasted.

It is a relief to be in the light and shade in the Place Dauphine, in this near–rural village at the centre of the world. How the city resists selling it for a trillion euros is a true mystery in these so–called 'liberal' economic times.

The renovations to the Pont Neuf are nearly complete, to just past the centre from the Left Bank. Parts of it look brandphoto, bongo 253 new, especially compared to the part that still looks several hundred years old. Maybe the city will lease it to a toll operator when it's finished.

The terraces along the Quai du Louvre are liberally sprinkled with lazy people doing what they're supposed to do on a day like this – sitting around watching the world go by. There's not a door or window closed anywhere.

The one and only Bongo number 253 at this week's club meeting.

Which is also the case at the club's café, La Corona. The café's 'grande salle' feels like a poolside cabana, with its fronds waving around. I get out the members' booklets and write in the particulars and then look at the place mats advertising horse racing in the Stade de France. Why race at the racetracks when you can do it in a stadium? I don't know.

I look up to see Kate Ernst sitting down. Kate lives in Paris, but has several questions and I am answering all of them when Maureen and Terry Cooper arrive from San Francisco.

The Coopers joined the club in November of 2000, and as then they have brought Bongo, and Moe thinks it may be number 253. It is not the same Bongo that came to the other meetings – they are at home with all the other Bongos.

Bongo 253 looks pretty nifty wearing all the jewels that Moe found on the airplane. She says she isn't jetlagged because the Coopers travel 'a lot' and they are immune.

When Heather Stimmler–Hall arrives she overlooks the club's secretary. "I didn't recognize 'Ed' wearing short sleeves," she says. Kate asks Moe about the whereabouts of Bongo number one.

Terry pulls out a PDA from somewhere to show us a photo of the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, because he got a free bonbon from it, once. Moe asks, "Is there anything happening we should know about in the next four days?"

While I formulate a reply she says they are already booked to go to the Opéra, seephoto, beer of the week Charles Aznavour, and maybe go to the races. Heather she wants to see the phantasmagoric Bartabas horse show at Versailles, but it is sold out.

Moe says, "Try eBay."

But Heather has already given up on Versailles. "It's so nice out and we haven't had a picnic yet," she says. Yes, I think, everybody who wasted their time in July on the Tour de France probably hasn't had the weather, until now, to have a picnic. All except for the almost nightly ones on the Pont des Arts.

This week's classy beer of the week.

By the time this thought is complete, I find that the others are discussing why missionaries seldom come to Paris. As I am digesting this, they next flit to the news about the remodeling of the Tartine wine bar in the Rue de Rivoli, and then they are promoting 'Au Bistro des Halles.' The Coopers bring wine from California for all their Paris friends – well, no more than they can carry.

Ron Bristol from Austin, Texas, comes in. I mistake Ron for one of the bumper–sticker contest winners and hand him his prize. He looks puzzled, Heather looks puzzled, and I suspect Ron maybe isn't a contest winner.

Ron says he's just finished a seven–hour stint of riding the Métro. He wanted to find out how long he could do it, but says it wasn't continuously. Heather suggests that this meeting have a 'wine theme' because Moe is drinking Champagne, she is drinking red–type wine, and they are talking about wine bars.

Then Tomoko Yokomitsu arrives, after spending the summer in Osaka. She says that it was pretty exciting there and she would have returned sooner except for the typhoon, the nuclear accident and the earthquake.

Tomoko immediately notices Bongo 253 and introduces 'Kiti' – the one and only – to him. Then she turns to Ron and asks him if he got his bumper– sticker contest prize yet. "What bumper–sticker contest?" Ron asks me.

Post–traumatic stress disorder is what Tomoko thinks she had in Japan. Luckily she had enough acupuncture there to last her for 'four or five months.'

Ron tells us about the long–distance arrangements for a surprise birthday party he's concocted. The 'surprise' part wasn't total though. "Maybe I should change my name?"

'Waiter of the Week' Patrick brings a near full tray with the second shift of drinks just as we have successfullyphoto, tomokos kiti completed the 'Group Photo of the Week.' "San Pellegrino – champagne!" he says.

Ron looks at the bottle closely and says, "The label on the back is upsidedown." Moe says, "Maybe you can sell it on eBay."

Tomoko's 'Kiti' makes a repeat club appearance.

Members answer their phones, finish their drinks, toss cash at the slips of paper, shake hands until next time. Tomoko says, "I kept up my English lessons in Japan, in coffee shops, in tea rooms."

Kate says goodbye, the Coopers say they'll be back next time, Heather has dogs to feed and Ron will be back at Thanksgiving to do the bird.

"In Japan I didn't speak French for months," Tomoko says, "Now it's taking three of four days to get my muscles used to it again." Summers can do that to you.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report' has less than what happened, which was several chapters. The 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has some other details, but you can skip it and not miss much. An easier way to find out all you want to know about the club is by joining it on a Thursday during any week with one.photo, patrick, waiter of the week

You can become a real lifetime member of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member nearly instantly by signing–in yourself any of its meetings in Paris if you are here on a Thursday. Getting something to drink is easily arranged, especially if Patrick is the 'Waiter of the Week.'

Patrick deftly slides a full drinks tray into club's area of chaos.

The club's 'rules' were turned into thin vapor by the club's own members some time ago, much to their mutual satisfaction. The club's other meager distinction is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that still has no newsletter.

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

The weekly club meetings start about 15:00, on Thursday afternoons. Meetings end about 17:00, also on Thursday afternoons in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'EXPOT' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are held in Paris. If the secretary gets any other better offer, club meetings will be held there.

Doing something clever at a meeting – like being present for one – is considered the opposite of being in another town. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having somewhat the same 'clever' value as 'first,' especially if wine bars are involved. 'First' is perfectly acceptable too, especially if it's honestly 'true.'

There's just one note of caution – you may have any one or two 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.graphic: club location map

Former 'rules' remain 'former' week after everlasting week and have been purged from the club's gigantic volumes of archives except for all the originals still online buried in the cool and deep salt mines of the chronicles.

Talking to other club members at meetings is an encouraged activity rather than merely optional. If there's an empty chair, sit – also optional – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. What you say may be honestly appreciated by other members present if they are listening, and there usually are some – and if it should chance to be written here, as a bit of it is, sometimes.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because several club members made today's meeting like a picnic.

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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