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20 Questions

photo, group, richard, david, bonnie, daniel, ann, bill

The 'Group of Six,' Richard, David, Bonnie, Daniel, Ann and Bill.

No Multiple Choices

Paris:– Thursday, 7. April 2005:– You should have seen the TV–news weather maps. The ones in today's Le Parisien are just as horrific. There are curvy lines like waves washing over France from the northwest to the southeast and they are pushing along herds of ugly.

There is a vast finger of cool air hanging down from the Norwegian Sea or the Greenland Sea, and it is acting like a funnel to bring Arctic air to this green and pleasant land. But this is surely not news. It is Easter time after all. Yes, the Easter time when it gets damp and cold, and maybe there's sleet and even snow – regular as clockwork.

The blonde TV weather–lady used words like chaotic, terrible, unstable and below normal, and she was only talking about Friday, which might even have a few winks of sun in the morning – but with a day's high no more than 9 degrees.

I forgot the northwesterly wind of 70 kph. On Saturday this will only be 50 kph, but by then the temperature will be struggling to match 8 degrees. On Sunday the worst might be over, or passing on to harass the rest of France, but the wind here will be whistling through at 60 kph, and maybe the temperature will be 10 degrees somehow but I don't know why.

On all these days there may be rain or its variants, such as 'gresil,' 'giboulées,' or plain 'gouttes' in buckets. But if you think this sounds bad, Le Parisien is predicting a Monday with 'nébulo–frisquets.' Not a day to leave dogs outside.

The '20 Questions' Report of the Week

Resolving to turn over a new leaf, ah, get on the way to the club meeting earlier so that I can walk awayphoto, bonnie's notebook from any Métro strike or other unforseen surprise, comes to nothing as usual. I don't know what happens every week about 14:00 except that the clocks speed up or click off the minutes two at a time.

Time to cringe – Bonnie's notebook full of questions.

At least it's not raining. Waiting for the Métro at Raspail the sign says it will arrive in two minutes, but it takes four. It's within its margin for error and I guess I am too because I leave it at Odéon and walk the rest of the way.

Crossing the Pont Neuf I notice sirens howling all over the place. The cops must be returning after their lunches. The Quai du Louvre is absolutely jammed with every kind of traffic, and I see the blue lights flickering with impatience. Is it civil war? Where's the fire?

In the 'grande salle' of the club's café there are a fair number of civilians polishing off their lunches. Even though club members eat but rarely during meetings all these others prove that it's possible, maybe even affordable, and possibly tasty.

Pretty soon there isn't anything left except crumbs. With the particulars inscribed in the club's official notebooks, I turn to the day's news. Prince Rainier has become the 'end of a legend,' on the front page and following six pages. For France, Jacques will touch base in Monaco on his way back from Rome.

But I don't get time to absorb the entire Grimaldi legend because member Bonnie Blythe is before me, with Daniel Heakin, both from Portland, Maine, and Bonnie is reminding me of every detail concerning her first meeting, in May of 2001. It is not, I must say, as clear as yesterday, and even mentioning member Ed Hawco from Montréal doesn't help.

But it is perfectly good enough for Portland to become the 'City of the Week' – right at the beginning of a meeting, in compensation for all the other time that Portland, Oregon has been mentioned.

Before this train can be followed, Ann Barner shows up with Bill Nichols, right from the airport right after a very long flight from southern California, from Roseville and Folsom. Ann says that Bill is anphoto, wine of the week 'American skeptic,' meaning that he is somewhat skeptical about this club and its Ed.

In fact Ann and Bill got to the café for today's club meeting at 14:00, when Ed was still in Montparnasse trying to get the lead out, so they immediately had some doubts.

Luckily Bonnie and Daniel were in a nearby booth and overheard their worries, and reassured them that they were in the right place at the wrong time, but not seriously wrong.

The 'Wine of the Week' is not Beaujolais.

Bonnie says she has questions. While she gets organized, finds her notebook, Daniel tells me about the hazards of Maine. These are mainly moose, "Several fatalities, people killed by a dead moose," he says. A police car goes by with its siren howling full blast.

I learn that the moose aren't the ones in hunting season who are outnumbered by hunters, but 'free' moose in other seasons who don't know who has the right–of–way. On account of the siren, another one, we are then on the subject of the Pope.

Bonnie says, "The day the Pope died, we moved from Notre Dame to Saint–Germain." Ann says, "It's better than the book I was reading on the airplane." This would be a goodphoto, broken tv remote quote if I had added the name of the better book, and was sure that Ann said it.

About this I am certain – Ann wants to know if the police sirens mean that they are changing shifts. The truth is, I don't know, but the central courts are nearby, on the Ile de la Cité, and for all I know the cops are trucking in tardy wits.

Find a replacement for this TV remote control – where?

Bonnie has found her notebook and is readying her questions. "What are the colored lights?" she asks. Some back and forth establishes that the 'colored lights' are the ones put up by the city to impress the natives of the seriousness of the city's bid for the Olympic games in 2012. The lights have been plastered all over the place, on the Hôtel de Ville, on bridges, on the Champs–Elysées.

"Where is the music in the Métro?" is the next question. Like the colored lights I've not seen, musicians I've not heard in the Métro are a mystery. I didn't know they were missing. Bonnie thinks there should have been more of them when the Olympic inspectors were here. I say we put on a huge manifestation for them instead.

Bonnie wants everybody to know that she thinks Heather's book is great. The next question concerns her rental TV remote control. It busted itself somehow. Daniel takes it apart to show me how it's broken. The easy answer is to get a replacement, from Darty for example. Or from Fnac or from BHV.

Ann says that she has a invitation to a fashion show at Galeries Lafayette. Ann and Bill are staying three weeks, and so are Bonnie and Daniel, who are also going to change apartments often to get new views.

Bonnie has another question. She's been watching TV, before the remote went kaput, and she wants to know why Guy Gilbert is famous. She saw him on some variety show. There are 50 people on variety shows I never heard of because I never watch variety shows and being guests on variety shows is the only thing they do.

Two men wearing sunglasses approach the club tables and help themselves to seats. At first I think they may be inspectors from the tax office, but the one with the beard says he is Richard Miller, a club member. His companion is David Risser, come to join the club, from Bittburg in Germany.

Famous, of course, for the heavily–advertised Bittburger Pils, and possibly for a NATO airbase. Richard joined the club in October of 2000, while living in Virginia. Now he lives in Heidelberg.

Richard likes cooking and eating and pretty soon he is writing notes about places to eat for Bonnie, to matchphoto, richard resto note apartment locations she is yet to have. Ann and Bill are beginning to wilt, on account of their stopover in – where was it? Texas? – so I declare it to the 'Group Photo of the Week' time, and Richard notices Bonnie's antique Pentax camera.

It works as good as it looks, although with a noticeable mirror clip–clop because of the dim light in the café. Out on the terrace the light is hardly better, but digital thinks it can see in the dark. Five poses and then we are saying goodbye to Ann and Bill.

Richard writes hot restaurant notes for Bonnie.

Back inside there isn't much time to do anything more than roll up the old crumbs and pack the notebooks. Richard is saying that Heidelberg is a great place to live, but that Paris is just '6 hours' from anyplace in Europe – something like it is just '7 hours' from anyplace at JFK in New York.

I guess another way of putting it is to say that everywhere is somewhere around here, but Heidelberg is more wonderful than you think. I seem to remember having a drink there one time on the way to a wedding in the Black Forest. Or was that Würzburg?

About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

photo, pentax k1000Today's club meeting 'report,' with attendance approximately about average, has had nothing edible and little more to drink other than café and wine. The flabbergasting 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has a few crude photos, but you can skip them all entirely and miss nothing other than a heap of words. The short version is that the club can be joined on any 'Thursday of the Week.'

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

Club meetings start about 15:00 on the dot in the afternoon, on Thursday and extend to 17:00 or after on the same afternoon in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'TsZZ' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Come to the Corona first because around somewhere else is not where meetings are held.

Be fiendishly clever at a meeting – by being at one or more. Hang for a hour or two with new friends especially if you have the time for it. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having more added value than 'first' regardless if 'first' is perfectly believable too, and if it is an acceptable form of 'fact' with any sort of vague relation to reality.

A 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.graphic: club location map Toss your name at Google if in doubt.

Former 'rules' continue to be 'former' week after week after week, month after month, year after everlasting year. Nevertheless these could be studied so that you know the history of the past and are not condemned to repeat it like we are fond of doing.

Talking to other club members at meetings is encouraged rather than optional if there aren't any. There are usually free chairs, so sit – wherever you like, or stand up. Whatever you say will be highly appreciated by other members present if there are any that are listening, and there usually are some – and if it should happen to be written here.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because the club's membership is crying out for a mascot, but Tomoko wasn't at today's meeting putting it in words again.

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