This Week's Club Meeting

photo: John Jennings. Claudia Jennings, Tomoko, Ranaud Remy, Jim Donatelli
The Group of the Week

All Rain, Some Shine, We're Fine!

new awnings
Getting up out of the rain
– new Club awnings!

Today's Club meeting got off to a sharp start. That was after the drizzle though: an annoying "forget the umbrella because it will only float horizontally under it into your face" almost–mist that although light did much to soak clothing. Anyhow 'guest ed' made it to the Café Corona without a hitch, and was just contemplating the nice new upholstery thas wasn't there last week when arrived long–time club member Jim Donatelli.

Presentations turned to conversation, and Jim and I of course had to reflect on guest ed's mishap the week before. Jim had a similar experience with a razor while shaving: he's a "bull in a china shop" his wife says, he says. "Even with your own nose?" I ask. Anyhow, we get to talking about razors in general (and the ills they may do) when conversation turns to the John Belushi sketch with the "it's got two blades" parody of then–razor advertisements... that became reality not a year later. Saturday Night Live... creator of many of today's chuckle–makers. Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd... Jim then tried the "bassomatic" ad spoof (involving a bass and blender) on me, but no dice. I tried "Bob & Doug McKenzie" on him, but no dice either. Shall we call this a 'comedy gap' ?

We had just completed the above when Claudia and John Jennings came in. Already a crowd! However was 'reserved' and inexperienced 'guest ed' to keep track of all the goings–on from here? The couple seemed already at home upon arriving – more so than guest ed – that he assumed that they were long–time members. Not so! They had been in Paris since all of 24 hours, they said. Veterans already.

club metropole banquette
The looooong and
comfy 'Club' chair

Cold Water, Customs, Bee Aich Vee

It seemed that on their flight in, John and Caudia's helpful stewardesses (and plane) ran out of hot water. We then had to go through the various ways of ingratiating caffeine in case of 'no hot water' emergencies - I suggested that the pilot keep an emergency stock of caffeine I.V. drips. John then suggested chocolate-covered coffee beans, the thought of which of made mouths... water... speaking for humble self of course.

Claudia's 24 hours in Paris had already borne some fruit, it seems. She says: "All without knowing any French at all, I went to the BHV (ed: local department store) and got a clothesline, clothespins and a padlock." Cheeky guest ed of course had to say: "Great! What did you ask for?"

The last chortle to the above joke was still dying (both guest ed's) when Tomoko walked in. Introductions were made, seats were filled. Coffees were ordered (thanks to the arrival of Waiter of the Week, whose name Guest Ed of course forgot to ask), and sips were taken. These were of course only a few of the simultaneous events occuring around me, but guest ed has only got one pen and one pair of lips and he needed his coffee fix.

Jim Donatelli
Nature protector extraordinaire

Our first big topic was: Language. The French didn't have much English years ago, but Jim says that now even the remotest French country–bumpkins have a stock of more than a few anglophile words to convey. He tells of a story where his wife had to get a 'do' in a hair salon (ten years ago) where they didn't speak a word of English... guest ed never did manage to note the result of all this. He did manage to note that a remark of Jim's that went: "In all my meetings with Europeans apologising for their 'horrible English', I was tempted to say to a lot of them that they speak better than many US citizens I've had to arrest." Jim is a Pennsylvania Parks Officer


...Which of course led to more talk of accents. Claudia, a frequent visitor to South America, spoke of a local theory that "'s' thieves" had visited the country some centuries before their arrival and stole most of the 's's from Argentinean Spanish. The same theory was of course then applied to other languages, which led to the creation of "vowel strokers" and "hat placers." All guest ed could add to all this was the Canadian "Taranah" pronunciation of "Toronto" – and Jim came back with a whole slew of local Pittsburgh particularities (I'll let you decode, dear reader): "y'unz," "dahn tahn," "the (Pittsburgh) Stillers," "saw–side." Try using all those in one sentence.

Chouette Schweppes
The (paid for) drink of the Week

Things then turned to "things to look for in France not found elsewhere" and "things found elsewhere but not in France". Peanut butter was of course at the top of the list – it is findable here, but not in a flavour or consistency any North American would be familiar with. John said that he did see something of the sort in a special stand at the end of a supermarket aisle earlier that day, and Jim said he saw something similar that looked American, but he couldn't recognise any of the labels. French 'mountain wildflower' alcohol Suze was a for–sure 'takeback' product – on your next visit to Paris, have a look up when you see the remains of a painted ad fading from the side of a 19th–century building – nine times out of ten it's a Suze ad. This drink was very popular, but is only one of a teeming legion French 'aperitif' dinks existing then. There remain but a few today, alas..

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