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''Tea or Chocolate?''

photo, group of the week tomoko

'Group of the Week,' without moving lips, is Tomoko.

Was the Question of the Week

Paris:– Thursday, 17. November 2005:– According to tonight's TV–weather news we are not supposed to expect much in the way of excitement from the skies which is just as well because we've had lots of wild times in the past few weeks and we are tired of it and need a rest, such as a having a calm weekend sans souci.

Skywards, if anybody happens to look up tomorrow morning, there will probably be blue from top to bottom and from east to west. By noon and after this is supposed to evolve into not quite so blue, maybe a bit of high clouds, but believe me nothing to worry about. In the temperature department you won't be able to expect much more than 7 degrees.

On Saturday a large or steady number of winds are supposed to pass through here, heading from east to west, atphoto, mean sky of the week about 40 kph. While the sun shines – promised by TV–weather! – the temperature will take another little hit, and struggle to hit a high of 6 degrees.

One version of a very changeable sky today.

However it will be counterproductive to sneer at this because Sunday has been announced without any breezes, meaning nothing, because the sunshine will be back, brighter than on Saturday, and the only flat note will be the day's high of 6 degrees again. And if you like this, Monday may be the same.

The 'Tea or Chocolate' Report of the Week

Of all the readers and club members who wanted to know why there were no club members at last week's meeting, not many of you wrote to ask 'why not?' Despite this singular lack of curiosity, the answer is simple. Tomoko had to visit her dentist.

But when I leave my artistic lair in Montparnasse and set out for the club I do not know this yet. On the way I am accosted by Uncle Den–Den who trots along with me past the cemetery as if he's coming to today's club meeting but as soon as he sees Raspail he turns around and returns to wherever he came from.

Of course I do not dwell on this because I have the thrill of riding the Métro to look forward to. But of course the train is not there, is it? A tiny bit of courtesy to a club member has cost me my habitual ride, and I have to take the next train and play catch–up.

But the sun is gloriously shining on the Louvre and the Pont des Arts as I cross the Pont Neuf which is also finephoto, beaujolais nouveau of the year today, with some Joes bravely adding new stones to it or fixing ones still under guarantee. It's not a criticism. I get to see these classic stoneworkers every week, hacking away with the same power chisels as the originals.

Glorious shrine to today's 'Beaujolais Nouveau of the Year.'

On my first traipse through the bar of La Corona I have the impression that they haven't celebrated Halloween. I keep on going, out another door, and look for signs. Yes! A Beaujolais Nouveau sign is in place, magically appearing while my back was turned. And inside, lo and behold, but young Monsieur Naudan is showing me the café's icon, shrine, crown of grapes, consisting of a barrel with one bottle surrounded with fake grapes. Is it beautiful?

Many of the waiters are dressed in traditional native costume to honor BJ Nouveau, sporting straw boaters and wine red smocks – what are they called? And in the café's grande salle there are many more clients, sitting comfortably around glasses full of red wine, the guest of honor itself.

But at first, at the beginning of the meeting, I have no members new or otherwise, to inscribe, so I peruse Le Parisien, which starts off with '742 outlaw towns.' Sarkozy's old town, Neuilly, is the number one of these 'outlaws.' Inside the paper Le Mans is rubbing its hands, but Marseille has jumped its compass. La fin de l'âge d'or du beaujolais nouveau is on page 13, just about where you'd expect to find a has–been.

This is turning into a long meeting so I go out to the terrace to catch the sundown, the ratty traffic, the empty chairs, but without warning Tomoko Yokomitsu catches me off–base, and we go inside so I can watch her face when she takes a drink of BJ Nouveau.

When Patrick the 'Waiter of the Week' comes to take our order he gives the ritual reply to the ritual BJ Nouveau question – is it any good? – but of course the police pass with a howling siren just then.

Tomoko asks me whether she should order tea or chocolate. The club secretary has to answer many questions as best he can, but when I ask, Tomoko counter–asks with, which will come out better in the photo? I say tea.

Then the oddest thing happens. Tomoko says, "The black cat was squashed flat. The black cat was squashed flat," and again, and again. I look under the banquette for cats. I look at the ceiling to see if Eva is flying around up there.

Patrick arrives with the tea pot and it is not the silver one I was expecting. It is some sort of modern affair, probably acquired at one of those places advertising Asian Electronics, nothing more than 29€. After ten minutes Tomoko hauls a tea bag out of somewhere and I look in the pot and there is no tea bag in it.

Tomoko, speaking of tea, remembers air hostesses asking whether she preferred black tea or green tea. She tellsphoto, tea pot, cup of the week me in Japan it is called 'red' tea, but I've already forgotten which is which. Then we go on to likely sources of white grape juice.

The 'Pot of the Week' was tea, not wine.

Then we switch to philosophy. Tomoko says, "In Japan if you don't live in a Japanese prison you are guilty." I guess this applies to folks in public housing too, but no, these aren't prisons either. "Guilty because you don't suffer enough."

Then it's back to cats. She tells me about the SPCA which is called the 'SPA' – is this right? – here. She says if you go there looking for a new pet dog or cat, you have to pass an interview, with a psychologe. They ask if you have health insurance for the animal and whether you intend to feed it expensive beef four times a week, and if you don't pass you don't get any new pet cat. "You have to be rich!" she exclaims.

Which, oh so naturally, leads to back iced tea. Or café glacé. We have a small world tour of the iced tea situation in Japan and France. 'Are there street kiosks in Japan?' I ask.

There are 24–hour grocery stores, there are McDos, there are – mainly – vending machines as near as I can make out. Nothing like the Joes here in the little kiosks withphoto, beaujolais patrick of the week hot crêpes and Nutella, cool drinks and maybe even cigars. No. "Sometimes you get the drink and the coin back," Tomoko says about the superiority of vending machines, or, automats as some Europeans call them.

Then, since it is nearly five, Tomoko says she won't bring her dentist with her next week. She doesn't say her dentist has a sparkling personality. I wonder if he might be Japanese and guilty.

Patrick attentively takes orders for café and tea, red.

Probably not. Tomoko wrote a play in English, not to get rich, but to have a part that requires her to speak English. "The black cat was squashed flat," is one of her exercises. Better than what happened to the woman whose fingers froze so bad on the keys that she had to get a job cleaning fish.

Actually, I made that up. Tomoko didn't say what happened to her, except we both know, she was guilty.

It you think that this 'club report' has had more than the usual ration of nonsense, feel at liberty to read the free news that is being posted occasionally on the 'News page.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

This club meeting 'report,' punched out with four frozen fingers and one bent elbow, probably leaves you in the dark. To find out the true truth have a peek at the 'About the Café Metropole Club' page with its now antique photos, wonderful words and shabby membership card. You can join the club too, without even having two thoughts, in any year containing at least one fourth 'Thursday of the Week' in November. Like the one coming next week rather than this one which was the third.

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

Club meetings begin as always at 15:00, in the afternoon, on every Thursday, and continue until 17:00, in the western Euro Time zone, now nearly into winter. Known in distant lands as 3 pm to 5 pm, around somewhere else is never where meetings are held. Come to the café La Corona. Bring a friend or two. The folks in the rear of the big room, full of green tea, are us.

Attend a meeting – by coming to one. Pass a hour or two or a whole meeting with other club members. Real 'firsts' are welcome, with 'real' being equivalent to 'true' even if 'first' is more than likely, and if it is an alternate form of reality with any sort of connection to fiction,graphic: club location map like history. Attending multiple club meetings is encouraged.

Caution – you may have a personal reason 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.

The 'ex–rules' that the club once had continue to be former. These discontinued rules may still be read if you can find them. You can, in theory, learn that this somewhat real club of minor purpose seldom institutes new rules because nobody cares for the old ones, which were many.

Talking to other club members at meetings is okay rather than optional. There are always dozens of empty chairs, so sit – wherever you like. Leaning is okay too. Whatever you say will be truly appreciated by the other members present if there are any listening, and sometimes there are but not always – and if it should chance to be written here.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because during today's meeting on Beaujolais Nouveau Day no club members drank anything other than tea, and café, of course.

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.
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– unless stated otherwise.
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there is no such thing
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Waldo Bini