My Gap Year?

photo, group of the week, susan and doug fuss Club members of the week, Susan and Doug.

The French Are So Snobby

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 10. July:–  Look, it's July and I am waiting for July to start. We had a bit of summer in June – thank you! – and now a third of July has melted away without a day – except for one! – that I would call summer. It was windy yesterday and the forecast was for the best weather of the week so I was out in the evening getting the "summer" photos – of folks having picnics on the Pont des Arts and sitting on the downstream jetty of the Ile de la Cité as the sun sank with an orange glow behind part of the Louvre. But more normal was today, also windy, with mostly clouds and some sun. It wasn't actually winter.

Last weekend was a grand départ, following the mini grande départ the weekend before. The Soldes d'Eté have had the best stuff grabbed and now merchants are putting up the second discounts for the leftover junk. The Chinese are feuding with our president, after be said he will go to Beijingx for the Olympics and he will have tea and cookies with the Dalai Lama afterwards. The Chinese said that was cheesy. Then our president went to Europe, where he is also temporary president, and explained his stance on China and the Dalai Lama. Daniel 'Dany the Red' Cohn–Bendit, a Euro–Greenie, booed. At the same time France had a nuclear incident that was poo–pooed by EDF engineers, and the police in Paris handed out yellow football warning cards to carefree jaywalkers, who have been jaywalking with impunity for about 205 years, ever since the Terror.

photo, cool drink of the week 1 Cool Drink of the Week 1.

Today the sky was semi–cloudy, it was windy and the temperature was about 28 degrees, but that's not good enough. Gangs of tourists were near the Pont Neuf, deposited by too–visible buses, and fastfood vendors along the quai du Louvre were welcoming them with colorful salads made with Dutch tomatos. More, semi interesting, weather details follow the club report.

The Triple–Play of the Week Club Report

I was still admiring the photos I snapped last night and stayed up for half the night saving, when I went to the club today. I was in the Tuileries to see the charming lights of the Fête. There were bright lights, laser lights, neon lights, spotlights, streetlights, headlights and plain light bulbs, on rides and attractions that twirled, swirled, slid, popped up, dodged, cruised, dived, floated, spun, and so–on, and you could smoke there because it was outside, next to the rue de Rivoli just like any other summer. Did I mention the cotton candy, the barbe à papa? Yes, and there were shooting galleries too. One advertised real bullets. Shooting little balloons in the Tuileries is great fun. You might even win a free trip to Saint–Germain–en–Laye.

So when I got to the club's café La Corona today I was still pretty excited even if my hair was a mess. Did I say it was windy? Did I say it's been several weeks since I've had a haircut? The first person I saw was Monsieur Ferrat and he said the action was so–so. I wondered if he meant so–so like half full or half empty. In the event the café's grande salle was mostly empty.

photo, cool drink of the week, orangeCool Drink of the Week 2.

I looked around but didn't see anybody looking like they intended to join the club and I didn't see any members who were sorry they did. I took out today's Le Parisien and read the news. Item – the news guy on TF1 who started there the day I quit watching it 21 years ago, got canned. A slow news day required all of pages two and three to explain this. Item – former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal claimed that her residence was burgled twice. A spokesman for the president's party, the UMP, said there was no reason to blame the regime in power. The Socialists are having a power struggle – still – so nobody suggested there might be fire if there's a smell of smoke. And so on and so forth.

In all I read the whole paper except for the TV listings and the sports news. The only paper with more sports news is L'Equipe, and it's part of the same group. But the point is, just as I was about to see what's on Arte tonight, members Susan and Doug Fuss arrived, and asked me what's on TV tonight. Was that a coincidence?

As soon as they were sitting down Doug rolled up his sleeves, leaned back, and said, "I have three questions for you."

I thought, I fear that a hour spent reading Le Parisien is hardly likely to be useful in this situation. There's no world news in it except for French folks murdered in London. There's no political analysis of anything outside the seventh arrondissement. Is Sarkozy maybe meeting John McCain?

photo, cool drink of the week, perrier Cool Drink of the Week 3.

Somebody signalled to Patrick the Waiter of the Week to bring some refreshments. I sat with my official club Bic pen poised to note the questions.

"Does it really only take five minutes to hook up Orange's Internet modem and TV decoder?" Doug asked. I couldn't believe it – a question and I know the answer! "Yes!" I said. Yes, yes, yes, it only takes five minutes, maybe four – just as long as you've done it before three or four times and have the missing parts on hand. Yes, nothing to it. A snap.

"But with the WiFi I wouldn't need the Ethernet cable, would I?" Doug asked. My considered answer – hard wire beats air wire every time. Besides, that's what the TV decoder needs. But this is all techno mumbo jumbo sally pollygag.

Let me confess right now that we didn't get to questions two and three, unless they had something to do with a new dishwasher that may or may not dry dishes after they are washed, and that will be or will not be Darty's problem, depending on who thinks the dishes are not dry or have merely air–dried overnight.

We didn't get to those questions because Doug had already arranged to have the Orange techno guy come by and do the hook up. Yes, yes, it costs, but Doug had no intention of letting the guy go until it's all working 101% tip–top with the 82 channels including the three from China and one direct from Beijingx, plus the telephone service. He said this Internet–TV–Telephone deal doesn't exist in the United States but I think it does, in New York, where I saw it advertised.

Remember? They said, "All three, for a hundred bucks per month? That's what I want!" At the time Orange and the other operators in France were fighting each other tooth and nail to offer it for 30€. Of course since then the dollar has fallen and the euro has risen, so it's only 50% less now. Imagine – a wide–screen TV movie coming into your living room on a piddly telephone line and you can surf the 'net and phone your aunt in Amsterdam, all at the same time. Multi–media triple play.

photo, coin dish of the week Cool Coin Dish of the Week, solo.

Then we were out on the café's terrace getting the Group Photo of the Week and Doug was saying he's going to send me the photo of a Café Metropole in Rouen. They were there for the Armada but it was blue and cloudy.

Susan asked me where I spent my 'gap year.' I said I had never heard of a 'gap year.' Have I been away too long? I remember now – I mentioned the French Bac and a platter might have fallen at the same time in the bar – the door was open and the traffic noise was considerable – who knows? – anyway the results are in and the success rate for this years' Bac was 75% or 82%, so only 25% or some other lesser percent have to write it again to pass. It's a big deal in France and there's even 75 year old grannies doing their Bac and passing. Of course by then it's a little late to be going to university. The French are so snobby about education.

Anti–Revolutionary Weather

Tonight's version of the weather on the TV–news had an unimproved forecast. Bastille Day comes this weekend so it was supposed to get better. It may not be as lousy as predicted. Here are the grim tidings:

Friday is scheduled to have a morning and an afternoon just like last week. At noon on Friday it appears it will be semi–mostly cloudy and cooler. There may be a wink or two of sun if you hope hard. Saturday is forecast to be worse, and Monday the 14th of July will be worst. High temperatures fall off the civilized scale to bottom out at 21, 19 and 20 degrees. You can ignore all the posters around town about the heatwave.

About the Café Metropole Club

Cuddle, cuddle, cuddle your mouse and clickity–click it to see a club meeting report buried somewhere deep in these pages. Less thrilling than hearing actual members' voices during club meetings but everything is seldom perfect. A clue about what the club's secretary might have been doing today may help and can be found on the About the Café Metropole Club webpage.

graphic, club location map

Headroom In the Patazone

As unrehearsed as any Thursday , semi out of control and unusually, like today, members fooling with the gap. Club meetings run from 15:00 to 17:00 on Thursdays. The metric times are equivalent to 3 to 5 pm around other unmetric places, while meetings are held right here. The next meeting will be on Thursday, 17. July in the afternoon. If you feel like saying anything that can be heard by the other members present if there are any and if they are listening, and sometimes they are, but not always.* Your other, absolutely true, stories are totally welcome too even if they are true.

Caution – should you have a personal desire 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. Stay lost if that's your desire.

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since the report a week ago because of my extraordinary tour on Wednesday evening, to see all the folks out in the falling orange light of a rare sundown, in Paradise.

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, 17. July.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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