Lapse In English

photo, group, maryellen, yoko, marilyn, pat From left, Mayellen, Yoko, Marilyn and Pat.

What We Call What We Speak

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 21. June:–  We are still getting 99¢ weather. It is like one of those shops that sell everything, especially things you never knew you wanted – like 2007 glasses that have twinkle lights. Our weather is sort of the opposite. It has everything but not what we want, not even for a lousy buck.

For starters, that low that was sitting off west from Bordeaux isn't there anymore. It moved north to sit over Blackpool in the UK. Any weather thing that sits over Blackpool isn't going to do anybody any good. Sorry if you are in Blackpool but I assume you know all this already.

Whirling around counterclockwise, like a pitcher you expect to throw overhand who throws underhand instead, the weather is batting scads of really crummy balls this way. One word for it is unstable. For details we have ooumph from the southwest, clouds, sunshine, changing every 15 minutes – and a temperature tendency towards down, to, say, 20 degrees on Friday.

photo, time in new jersey, time in parisTwo time zones at once.

Saturday is considerably more simple. The north third of France will be socked in. If you are near the Channel the wind will be blowing up your t–shirt. Around here it will be all cloudy, and it will be no warmer than 19 degrees. Expect Sunday to be lighter when it will only be semi–cloudy, and much warmer, with 20 degrees. Which is low for this time of year – officially summer – but what else did anyone expect?

For statistics fanciers the news is about the longest day of the year today, which signals the beginning of summer. For those who live here this will be sort of an anticlimax because we had summer already, on account of the election. For those who don't live here the only good news is about sunrise at 05:49 and a long time later, sundown at 21:56. Don't squander any of it.

The What We Call What We Speak Report

Today I was very excited to be going to a club meeting because a lot of folks have written to say that they are travelling from the ends of the earth to attend a meeting in person. I was excited even though I know from experience that folks who write to say they are going to do something usually do something else, sometimes on account of the International Date Line that messes with calendars.

So there I was, after the customary métro ride, walk through the Quartier Latin etc. etc., yatta yatta – sitting in the club's area in the club's café reading the club's copy of today's Le Parisien, minding my own business, when a large voice shattered my concentration – the front page photo shows what a nuclear family in France eats in a year – nearly three tons of stuff – all of it in one photo! It was making me ill.

photo, beer and a bump, drinks of the week "Beer and a bump," club version.

There was also a photo of what the French ate in 1951. It was more like grams than kilos or tons. It's hard to believe anybody could have survived on it. There was no Coca–Cola in France in those far off days in the past! And folks didn't waste time schlepping home freight car–loads of water either.

But as I began to say, a large voice interrupted. I knew who it was too. Who could forget the red hair? Who could forget – and luckily my failing memory was boosted by Marilyn herself providing the name on the tip of my tongue, as in Burke from New Jersey, but where? Ah yes, from Cliffside Park. Is that new? Is that what it was?

The other two ladies looked familiar too. They confirmed that they are members – became members in 2001. They were Maryellen Nizza from Teaneck and Pat Drasheff from Gutenburg. Marilyn came to about 34 club meetings in 2000 and 2001. And then, as she says, she managed to skip being in Paris on Thursdays. For six years?

So it was sort of a reunion we had today. I heard more spoken words than I have in the last six months' of meetings. The three ladies might have been down in Menton or they were on their way there. For a change, they are staying in a hotel here. The shower curtain it doesn't have! The curse of French hotels!

But first, catch–up. "I am now a grandmother, of the club's first grandchildren," Marilyn said. "We are all grandmothers now!" all three said in unison. Other members and casual readers should not think your eyes are reading wrong – many members of the New Jersey's Burke family are club members – as many as 50 for all I know – and as time goes on they are multiplying.

photo, empty glassesEmpty cubits.

The toilet paper keeps getting wet because there's no shower curtain. Marilyn doesn't want me to note this – she doesn't want to be blacklisted. She seems to think they could have put in a shower curtain sometime since 2001. Marilyn's problem is that she usually lives in apartments or houses. Maybe she should talk to Sarkozy.

"American women over 50 are always hot," Marilyn said. Obviously the Waiter of the Week has not dared to approach. Maryellen said, "Not that kind of hot!"

"We're on vacation. We can do what we want," Marilyn said. Then she explained the drink she ordered from the Waiter of the Week. "A beer and a bump," she said. He brought a glass of wine and a glass of Coke for her. They had lunch at the chalet in the Luxembourg.

Marilyn said, "When I'm not in Paris, to go to seep, I dream that I'm having lunch in the Luxembourg." That, I thought, that should get her off the blacklist.


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