"I Thought It was a Famous Bear!"

photo, group, jerry, sue, ramona, linda Jerry, Sue, Ramona and Linda are the Group of the Week.

Runner–up Quote of the Week? "Holy Moly!"

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 25. January:–  Another Alert Orange snow day in France but not here. It's been moving around and wherever it goes there are big messes on the autoroutes and folks in villages are without power. I wonder about that – before EDF guaranteed power for everybody, everybody used to go out and gather their own wood, or coal, or gas, or briquettes. We were always helpless in Paris – to strikes, to thin walls and single–pane windows. We still are. Brrrrrr.

It's possible that it's not an Alert Orange day tomorrow. The predicted low tonight is minus four degrees but the high on Friday should be 3 degrees above freezing, 300 percent more than today. There will be some breezes from the northwest but I forgot to note their velocity, if it was even mentioned. Semi–sunny in the morning will turn into semi–cloudy in the afternoon.

photo, zero degrees, pharmacy  sign

It's the beginning of an almost–heatwave. On Saturday we are supposed to expect 5 as the high, and perhaps some more semi–sunny over our heads. Then on Sunday the northwest wind is back, this time expected to be 70 kph. Around here there are lots of clouds on the map, and these may turn into semi–cloudy in the afternoon.

Note that semi–cloudy and semi–sunny are not the same at all. Semi–cloudy is not total overcast but it might be hard to tell the difference. Semi–sunny is what we get when we are expecting all–cloudy and then it fools us with three flashes of brief sunshine at 13:00. The good news is that the high for Sunday is forecast to be 7 degrees. Other good news involves our sunsets, which are now about 17:30, if it is being exceptionally semi–sunny.

The "I thought it was a famous bear!" Report

I got ready to go to today's club meeting by sitting down for breakfast wearing my new coat. I had to take off my new gloves so I could eat my bread slices without getting them sticky with jam. Then I made a big pot of strong café and poured it in. Out of the window the cemetery across the way looked freezing, but folks over there never notice.

photo, micro cup, ex mini expresso Typical one–sip mini express.

A little later, passing its long walls it occurred to me that being underground would be less exposed to the wind, which was right in my face. It reminded me of the season I delivered Christmas mail, in a month–long blizzard. Through heat and hail, through rain and flood, through lightening and gales, the club's secretary never faltered getting to club meetings on time, day or night.

In fact I did the usual stuff. Got in the métro and rode it to Odéon and tramped the rest of the way, over the Pont Neuf and against the wind along the Quai du Louvre. At La Corona the waiter of the week, Patrick, said there were a lot of lady members waiting for me. Waiting a long time. My watch said 14:53.

When I walked into the café's grande salle I immediately spied members Ramona McDaris and Linda Thalman huddled together behind the club tables almost completely covered with bottles and glasses and cocktail mixings. It looked like they were having a party. They invited me to take a seat. So I did.

photo, feve from lindaLinda's fabulous

Before I could take care of the administrative chores – they take about 63 seconds – Ramona handed me what looked like some sort of key ring thing, that turned out to be a ring with some simple tools – a screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver and a bottle opener – the sort of thing handy to carry on airplanes for dismantling seats even though it is almost certain to be confiscated. Okay, for taking apart handcuffs if I'm ever arrested.

Ramona said they were the kind of thing you can buy in Boerne, Texas if you ever happen to be in that nook of the weeds. At this exact moment we were joined by Sue and Jerry Marterer from Jacksonville, Florida. Jerry told me yet again how he isn't always in Paris on Thursdays so I remembered him right away as the member I don't see when he isn't in town at meetings on Thursdays.

Almost immediately, or a little bit before, everybody was talking at once. Four members can talk a lot faster than I can write notes, especially with Ramona asking me to set her camera straight after Linda made its flash work, which was the opposite of what she was trying to do. Ramona said, "People are so political..." and you'll have to guess the rest because I was looking for the flash in the menus and coming up blank.

"You never know what's going on," she continued, about what, I have no idea. "It's mysterious." I know. Then Jerry was saying something about what the dogs do on the sidewalks. "It's much less than it used to be," he said. Right! Don't mention it. Not at a table full of cat lovers.

photo, set of tools What every club secretary needs.

See? I almost forgot. Before Jerry and the dogs Ramona and Linda had their cameras out for something besides the flash thing – they had photos of their loved ones. For Ramona this was Sheba, whose cat crate was too heavy for Air France to carry, and for Linda it was Starlet, her relatively–new favorite cat. Especially since her Tiger became an independent contractor.

When I fell back into the conversation Jerry was saying, "All the French millionaires are moving to Switzerland. I guessed he meant Johnny Hallyday, the oldest French rocker known to mankind. But I could have been wrong because I noted Linda saying, "I might get 30 cents a month."

And then we learned why Jerry is in Paris often but seldom on Thursdays. He's some kind of scout for pine trees, because his company – the one he works for – makes turpentine. "You know, turpentine is used for making chewing gum." That, I didn't know.

In the meantime Patrick had delivered some drinks, including last week's incredibly heavy iron teapot. Linda tried lifting it and said, "Holy moly!" Is that a Quote of the Week? Jerry poured some tea for Sue.

Ramona is looking at Starlet's photo on Linda's camera. "Where's the head, where's the face?" After doing the photo I wonder the same thing – but I have seen the cat live, in person.

photo, cats sheba, starlet, two cameras Sheba and Starlet in their cameras.

Another reason that members come to club meeting on Thursdays is so they can object to opinions they read in Metropole. For example, Sue and Jerry chose to get an apartment in the 7th arrondissement despite Ed's disdain for this part of Paris. It's like, deserted, on Sundays, which are like most days of the week.

But members are not dummies. After trying out the Marais any sensible person might want to find a peaceful little corner, where there's only occasional public gatherings of a half–million Parisians. Thusly Jerry explained his Paris–as–a–cheese theory.

That is, until Ramona mentioned the big bear she once saw while leaving town. It was in fact the Denfert Lion. "I saw it from the back end. I thought it was a famous bear!" It's the Quote of the Year, so far, this year.

While I was mulling over the perfectly likely possibility of mistaking the Lion for a bear, the members decided to make a list of all the museums with acceptable restaurants. According to these experts, early visits can beat the crowds, and if you can have breakfast so much the better. But as usual, my notes lagged behind.

photo, empty glass

"We don't know the question," Linda said. Jerry replied – or was it a different subject? – "We don't have time to eat in all those places."

Ramona told us about some shopping she did at BHV but told me not to mention it. It's delicate, so I won't. Nobody needs to know about Paris' dark underside. "Why am I sitting in this cemetery?" was another question Ramona asked, but I have no context for it – so we trooped out to the café's terrace where I shot photos until the members were sick of it and then back in the café we scared up Patrick and loaded him up with silver, or what passes for money in these devalued times.

One last thing. Linda brought the fève that she found in a galette des rois. There was something special about it. If you find one in a galette without breaking a tooth, you become a king for the day. Another fact was that it wasn't made in China. Not everything in France is.

About the Café Metropole Club

Your disbelief is worthless because this is an typical club meeting's ordinary report. Think of it as a stinky piece of cheese of true life. Fasten an eyeball to the extraordinary sketch of what we might have been doing here, to be found as usual on the About the Café Metropole Club Webpage, containing its juicy words, redolent photos and melodious other good stuff reeking of fresh fragrant garlic. And forever, more better frites.

graphic, club location map

What Is This About Stuff?

All spontaneous club meetings, totally unrehearsed, will begin at 15:00 every Thursday and continue until 17:00 no less. The coming meeting will be on Thursday – exactly – 1. February. These times look like 3 pm to 5 pm around other places but these meetings are held here instead. Whatever you say will be truly appreciated by the other members present if they are listening, and sometimes they are, but not always – and if it should by total chance be recorded here.* All your other, basically true, stories are welcome too.

Caution – if you have a personal need to remain unfindable via the Web, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be 404 – not found by Web search engines before becoming found. Not becoming a club member is one sure way to stay unfound.

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because of the failure of the club's secretary to keep the notes up to speed, resulting in reports like this one that are impressionistic rather than full of true but boring facts.

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.
Next club meeting on Thursday, 1. February.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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