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The Red Mugs

photo, group of 17 of the week

The club's first 'Group of 17 of the Week,' freezing in Paris.

Not Faces, Coffee

Paris:– Thursday, 24. February 2005:– The weather map in today's Le Parisien shows two black clouds here and there, and 15 white clouds dropping little white circles all over the whole country except on the Riviera.

There were some times today when very tiny little white circles fell, no, drifted, over Paris today. It was hard to tell whether they were snow flakes or loose feathers, or maybe confetti. It means General Winter is nearby – out west in fact. But our breeze is coming from the east.

Oops. I look again, at the Ile–de–France map and see that we were to have two black clouds, four gray clouds and two white clouds with the snow flakes. The sun is peeping out from behind the gray clouds. I don't remember anything about this.

No matter because this is what we're to have on Friday. An orange snow–alert warning for out west, stopping at the edge of the Ile–de–France. Here it is supposed to be semi–sunny semi–time, with a low of minus two and a high of plus 4 degrees tomorrow, probably about 14:42. Gorgeous sunshine again for the Riviera of course.

On Saturday around here it is expected to be semi–sunny again, with the old clouds hanging upphoto, soupe a l'oignon, quai du louvre along the Channel. It will not be warmer because we're only supposed to expect 3 degrees. Then on Sunday the whole aspect will get really agreeable with more semi–sunny times and the clouds sitting out east someplace.

Should have been the 'Soup of the Week.'

Maybe not. Sunday's high has been forecast as 2 degrees, which is not 'high' at all. Le Parisien says we should rejoice because no snow and no rain is forecast, and there's a thaw coming on Monday. Some thaw! High is predicted as 4 degrees, fully twice as much as Sunday.

The 'Red Mugs' Report of the Week

It wasn't snow that slowed me down getting out of here to go to the club meeting this afternoon. I haven't actually seen it snowing, the white stuff was just there yesterday morning. But it hasn't been warm so it is taking its time to get lost.

Being late had something to do with not having any orange juice. It didn't actually, but I am remembering it because I need to get some. It was something else that I've forgotten. Since I can't remember it either, I can always get the orange juice and set things half right.

Then I get halfway down the road beside the cemetery before I notice that the sidewalk on the other side is ice–free. If I wasn't late I'd go back and do it over again. In the Métro tunnel at Raspail I see there are few other passengers, and the train when it comes in almost empty too.

The driver puts on a burst of speed between Placide and Sulpice. Probably for testing the brakes. They work fine at Sulpice. I get out at Saint– Germain because I can walk the rest of the way and be on time. If I stay with the Métro the driver might decide to play slow driving on account of being ahead of time.

I don't notice anything out of place in the Quartier Latin. Going across the Pont des Arts I see some brave souls on a sightseeing boat, and they cheer – the Pont des Arts? The Ile de la Cité? On the other side a Joe is wailing away with a saxophone on the quai. Except for a few cold seagulls there isn't much of an audience.

The club's café La Corona is sitting in its usual place. The tear–up–the– pavement guys have finished its sidewalk and are attacking the crosswalk. I wonder what they are really doing.

The inside of the café is sleepy. There are only a few dozers in the 'grande salle.' I remember that I forgot to bring a paper to read. I have a new 'reports' booklet, so I get it in shape. Meeting number 278, blah blah. Banners outside indicate an east wind. I remember, a guy on the bridge offered to trade me a whisky for a cigarette. I told him I live in the 14th and he gave up.

Then I see members Berta and Scoop Maginniss winding through the café, bearing bundles. Berta isphoto, cafe mugs cafe metropole excited. She unwraps and hauls out three coffee mugs, riot–engine red. White writing on them says, 'Paris,' and 'Café Metropole.'

There is a red coffee bag too, with a label that says 'Café Metropole' and 'Paris' and 'Premium Coffee.' Another label on the back gives the name of the café, the address and the meeting time.

A first! Snazzy red Café Metropole Paris coffee mugs.

Not content to merely think that this club needs coffee mugs and appropriate coffee to go in them, Berta and Scoop have had these samples made. Alright. Without further notice, up the flagpole they go. Order your very own Café Metropole Club red coffee mugs and coffee today! Write to metropoleparis@aol.com this minute.

A few details need to be worked out. Like the price and the S & H. Scoop says he'll do the coffee research. I need to do a drawing for the coffee bag labels, but otherwise the bag is red, like the mugs. Any color you want so long as it's red. Very red, of course, to remind you of café awnings and Paris fire trucks.

It's like Christmas. Berta even has a red Champagne box, and the three mugs almost fit inside. Scoop says he's going to Galeries Lafayette to check out their coffee. He says it'll be called the 'Thursday blend,' the 'Corona' blend and the 'Cartoon' blend. It's the start of a blended empire.

Scoop says, "We'll get the Columbian anywhere. The label won't need a warning." And upon reflection, "If we get an order, we'll come up with a price."

After all this excitement we have to sit still to absorb it. It gets quieter. Berta bends the Champagne box stuffing coffee mugs in it. People come in the café, frozen. Warm people leave the café.

Patrick, the 'Waiter of the Week,' comes up with a young lady who turns out to be Ayako Isogai. Ayakophoto, cafe, mugs is from Tokyo. She has been studying in London, and now she is studying in Paris, until April. She has a print–out of the 'About' the club. It has my photo on it, so Ayako is in the right place.

A Café La Corona café cup with Metropole mugs.

And, this week's 'City of the Week' is Tokyo because it hasn't been before, unless it's spelled wrong by the secretary. Ayako asks questions and Berta answers. Ayako isn't sure whether she likes Paris. "Every day rainy and cloudy," she says, and it's been true. It looks like it is going to continue being true.

Up to this point this is a fairly normal meeting except for red coffee mugs and Ayako from Tokyo. Then members Susan and Doug Fuss arrive from Savannah. Handshakes and kisses all around. Then members Eva Lee and Dale Gaver come up and get installed. It's Dale's first return to the club since joining in December of 1999.

This requires having more handshakes, finding chairs, getting aligned, making a note or two, and ordering something from the 'Waiter of the Week.'

Next, I see a file of people threading through the 'grande salle.' They aren't, they are, they couldn't be, but they are – led by Joanne Shrout and Catherine Moore – all coming to the club from Independence and Springfield, Missouri. Eight or nine more, following, glad to be out of the cold – it could be the Essonne Beaver Club for all they care.

Wow! Think of the handshakes, finding chairs, getting aligned – it's a shambles. Catherine is looking for Heather of 'Secrets of Paris' fame. Heather is off somewhere else moving houses today.

Then member Tomoko Yokomitsu arrives. She is introduced to Ayako and Ayako can now ask what this is all about in Japanese. Hordes of Shrouts and Moores take over other booths in the club's area and beyond it, where cigar smoking is legal.

"It's so cold," Joanne says. Quite correctly either David Shrout or Alan Moore says that Missouri is colder. Yes, well, it's closer to Canada than Paris. Here, we should eat more cassoulet to stave off feeble blood.

The secretary's sense of time is shattered. Ayako seems like she is about to depart. I tell her she must wait for the 'Group Photo of the Week,' which I'm not entirely sure will be accomplished. "We talked Japanese!" Tomoko exclaims.

I don't know who says, "She's in love for a moment, so she's busy." It reads like a line from one of Matthew Rose's 'Girlfriends' series, but he's not at this meeting. In fact he's not even a member.

Then, with a fair amount of ado, we are all out on the café's terrace with the Quai du Louvre trafficphoto, doug, joanne, berta, susan growling past. With few false moves and more than a few shivers the whole gang pulls into positions and holds pretty still for a series of a major 'first' – the first 'Group of 17 Photo of the Week.' It's a long 'first' but then so is 17.

Members Doug, Susan and Berta meet Joanne.

And, as they used to say, it is all over but the shouting. Tomoko takes a pill and when I ask she says it is for stopping smoking, which she stopped in 1999. Scoop stopped cold on 8. August of last year, without pills. Patrick, scratching his head, finds a ticket for me. I take the 5€ note he's holding absentmindedly, and he folds away my 10€.

Outside there are bits of fluff flying around, and the easterly breeze is too aggressive to be soothing. I have a red Champagne box under my elbow and it has three red coffee mugs in it. Hot stuff!

More About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report,' with the greatest attendance in recent history, lacked anything edible of any kind. The now classic 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has several tasteful photos, but you can skip it all entirely and miss little other than lots of fine print. If you do skip it, the club can be joined any Thursday, so long as it's the same day you've chosen for joining.

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

Club meetings begin about 15:00 on the hour, on Thursday afternoons and fade away about 17:00 or afterphoto, photo camera photo on the same afternoon in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'ZZTS' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Around somewhere else is not where meetings are held.

This week's 'Photo of a Camera Photo of the Week.'

Be devilishly clever at a meeting – by being at one – and become warm – warm! – for a hour or two especially if you want to or not. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having more of the same value as 'first' regardless if 'first' is perfectly believable too, and if it is an acceptable form of 'true' but only on Thursdays.

Note of caution – you may have any one or more personal reasons for remaining unfindable 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. Google yourself to find out.graphic: club location map

Former 'rules' continue to be 'former' week after week after week, month after month, year after everlasting year, and have been eliminated forever etc., blah–blah, from the club's hyper–texts of archives andsoforth, etc., etc.

Talking to other club members at meetings is encouraged rather than optional if there aren't any. Should there's a free chair, sit – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. Whatever you say will be greatly appreciated by other members present if there are any that are listening, and there usually are some – and if it should chance to be written here.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because one this week's new members had his own cigar and smoked it too, like Groucho.

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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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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