Paris:– Thursday, 28. August:– We had those so–called days of sleeveless sunglasses I mentioned on Monday in good faith, led to believe by the TV–weather news that we were to have an entire midweek of sunshine and cushy temperatures of 25 degrees. I am sorry. I was wrong. What I wrote here, what you depended on, what I was told by the TV–weather news was... was baloney! It was hardly sunny a little bit on Tuesday and it wasn't anything like 25 yesterday, and today was the worst of all. Those faint, weak, thin clouds up along the Channel, forecast for today, were actually down here right over our heads, preventing any stray ray of sunshine from beaming its bliss on us. The lady running the tabac in the club's café La Corona said it was cold here. "It's like November," she said.
That's the month we get our flu shots. Hey! Guys, we need those flu shots right now. Put the stuff in the little bottles and ship it down here or we'll be wiped out like it was 1919 all over again. Ah, it feels good to let off steam like that. Most of you probably think I never look back at the weather predictions and just go blithely on, repeating their foolishness with never a nod to those who got frostbite while at the midnight movie out on the prairie at La Villette. No. When I predict sunshine and it ain't, I'm the one out there moping under the dark clouds.
Tonight's TV–news was somewhat upbeat. I laughed out loud at their delusions. The weather chickie, Tania, had on a new dress and a new, sort of back–to–school attitude. As in, "You are going to love this forecast for the weekend!" I looked at the ceiling, I looked at my watch, I poured some more fake beer. It was the nightly fiction and I didn't believe a word of it. She said, "You remember those thin little clouds up along the Channel? Well..."
Again today the clots of tourists were becoming smaller around the Pont Neuf, bravely taking photos of themselves in their summer finery against a thick grey backdrop of formless clouds. I did see see the sandwich wallas along the quai du Louvre with their fists in their pockets, looking sadly at empty chairs while pretending not to moan about the November weather already. There was no need to chase folks off the plage across the street because it's gone and the speedway was clogged with speeders again. Boring and barely true weather details follow the club report.
I've gotten over being annoyed with myself for getting up late a couple of times last week because of all the times I got up late this week. It's a dead horse and I am going to put it behind me and get on with the rest of my life, the part between noon and midnight. Thus it was that I got up a littler earlier today, had breakfast a bit sooner and got out the door ahead of usual, so I had plenty of time to get the poster photos on the way to the club. Too bad there weren't many new ones and no good ones.
So I was hanging on a rail outside the club after having a handshake with Monsieur Ferrat, looking at the café's bright red awning when I was accosted by member Vicki Houlahan, who said that she expected her landlady to show up any minute. About 30 seconds later I was being introduced to Martine Asscher–Baudoix, who said she lived in Boulogne–Billancourt near "Roland Garros", the tennis thing out there.
I thought, this is not right. This was club stuff. The inside and sit down and write it in the members' booklets, all tidy and according to Hoyle because there are no club rules, but out there on the street, leaning against a railing, that's not kosher. Martine said she only had to cross a street to catch a city bus. As if that made it okay. You don't live in Boulogne if you can catch a Paris city bus just like that. I thought we had better get inside before she talked herself out of Boulogne.
Besides member Jan Shaw had come along and caught me outside and she was beginning to think we were going to have the meeting out there, being deafened by the stupid car drivers racing on the quay, perhaps not realizing the speedway was open again. Or, just as likely, it does not make a damn bit of difference whether the speedway is closed for Paris–Plages. The number of cars, trucks, buses, cop cars, motorcycles and scooters expands to fill the space available even when the space doubles overnight.
Inside the café it was noisy but not anything like outside. By the time I got to the club's area member Dana Shaw was there too. The three members and one aspirant were sitting in the secretary's favorite seats, with their backs cozily to the wall. I sidled over to Martine and explained the club thing to her, read her her rights and got tied up in knots with the email warning. Martine said she knew all about the dangers of dealing with foreigners, being an open–minded landlady.
If she didn't live in Boulogne I might have asked her if she had any free apartments. The trouble with living next to Roland Garros isn't the tennis tournament, but the Parc des Princes. That is serious football hooligan territory. If not that, the cops around there are draconian with the parking. Just so nobody gets me wrong, my kids were born in a ritzy clinic there, next to the stadium, and I registered them in Boulogne, making them French – if they feel like it. And that has nothing to do with them living in Dublin. Well, not much.
About then, when everybody except the Shaws was saying, "Where's Marie?" that's when member Marie Mazurchuk arrived, followed closely more or less but not together, by member Barney Kirchhoff, who was wearing a new and black Obama for President t–shirt. Just a reminder here, for those who did read the club rules about eight years ago before they were canned, the club has no dress rules. Anybody can wear what they darn well like at club meetings so long as they have shoes on.
Here I add a historical note – in case you are reading this eight years from now – last night, Wednesday, Barack Obama was nominated in Denver as the Democratic Party's candidate for the presidential election in the United States on 4. November 2008. I forgot to ask Barney how they made his t–shirt so quickly though.
Also, just in case you think I was being mean to Boulogne, it became the City of the Week about the time nearly everybody was asking, "Where's Marie?" Then Barney, because we asked him, was telling us about being in the Democratic Party thing, like how he helps all the poor offshore Democrats to vote. He did not say all the 6000 registered Democrats in France were going to vote for Barack Obama. They can make up their own minds but who else will they vote for?[[pagebreak]]
Don't get me wrong. The club is not a political thing. I remember that there was one member who insisted he was voting for lower taxes in 2000 and nobody laughed or jeered at him. As I recall lower taxes won. He laughed and jeered at us when Al Gore declined to look for unspoiled ballots in garbage cans in Florida. Actually those were pretty exciting meetings.
Where was I? Oh yes, this meeting. There was a lot of chatter, two varying sets of it. Vicki said, "I come to Paris for the shoes!" Barney told us about his three days of movies for 3€ a seat, plus a freebie midnight movie on TV. This led, fairly naturally, to the TV coverage of the Olympic Games. He said, "Don't bite the medals!" – explaining that they are not solid gold but some sort of cheapo Chinese lead alloy. I thought they were gold–looking plastic.
Then we had the pickpocket stories. Jan told us – I'm not sure this wasn't a historical pickpocket tale – told us about the guy who got his wallet and cards back and only lost his cash. But by then he had cancelled all his cards so he starved for three days until they sent new ones. Me, I wondered about the citizen I had seen on the Pont Neuf. Coming along he patted his back pocket and freaked. He whipped around and steamed back to the métro entry. I didn't wait around to see him not find any pickpockets down there. They were gone.
Marie's story was about a day at Disneyland with her granddaughters. "It was a long day!" And she had her little pedometre to prove it – it had 26000 steps on it, she said. Barney wanted to know if the pedometre counted standing in line for hours. Marie showed us how to make fake steps by banging the pedometre on the table. Another club first! Marie also said that a normal day in the city usually totalled 10–14000 steps.
At about that time an uproar broke out over how to pronounce Dana's name. Somebody said, "Think Dana Andrews," the actor. Everybody said his name. It seemed right. But Vicki said she knew a kid – a nephew? – who wanted to be called Dane, like the dog. So Dana has been having us say his name like Dane but with an a on it. Jan looked thoughtful. She said, "You have been mispronouncing your name all your life;" to Dana.
It is very rare to get personal at club meetings. Goodness knows the secretary misspells names all the time. A simple email or a threat from a hitman will get anybody a rapid correction. I even had my ten buck Duane Reade glasses with me at the meeting today.
Speaking of mispronouncing, it reminded just about everybody of their personal trials with speaking French. "I am never going to be fluent in my lifetime," Vicki said. Barney chined in with, "I speak like a native of Paris, Kentucky." And added, "It's near Ver–sales" – spelt Versailles.
Part of speaking French in Paris is minding your own business on the street when some lost foreigner hits on you for directions to what–whichever. They start off muggle–mouthing something really bizarre and then ask, "Do you speak English?" Marie had the right answer, "Just say Nyet!"
Sometimes that isn't appropriate. French folks can be lost in Paris too plus they are clever enough to know that not everybody who speaks English really knows it, so they may ask in English too – they don't necessarily want foreigners to know they don't know their way around because that would seem somewhat lamebrained. But me, I don't always know where I am, in relation to what they are seeking. While I fire up my internal GPS they might get impatient and rephrase in English. Then I say, in French, "You can't get there from here." Especially for drivers when it's raining.
There's more. But it was after five and the waiter was waiting for his cash. Barney said the name of the movie advertised on posters all over town was Kung Fu Dunk and not whatever it was on the posters. Oh, life is just so confusing, here in Paris.
Tonight's weather on the TV–news needs to be treated with a whole saltshaker full of salt. They are, as they say, at it again. As always stuff is sweeping in from the Atlantic. It's the same old story, always worse looking when it's a forecast except when they show it as better. Here are the latest fanciful tidings:
Friday is scheduled to have a morning and an afternoon just like most weeks on earth, with more to come. At noon on Friday it appears the rain and clouds might be over and it will become demi–sunny, continuing until dark. On Saturday the forecast is different with demi–sunny and some occasional sunshine, which on Sunday may thicken up to be semi–worse. High temperatures will be a thing of the past. Don't expect 24, 28 and 26 degrees maximum just because they forecast it. Just fanciful, that. With the prediction up in the air maybe a good movie will suit you better than sunbathing on the lamented and expired Paris–Plages.
Tinkle your fingers, tap the pedals and grasp your furry mouse to click up a symphony of a club meeting report buried somewhere deep in these pages. No audio sensations other than hearing actual members' voices during club meetings. No video at all. Real lame with words, just verbs, nouns, and predicates. Real blurry photos. A clue about what we might have been doing today may help and can be found on the About the Café Metropole Club webpage.
As unrehearsed as any day of the week, semi out of control and unusually, like today, a Thursday. 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, 4. September in the afternoon. If you feel like saying something, it 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. All you folks staying lost, all is forgiven.
*The above paragraphs you just read were relatively unchanged since the report last week because of today's lessons in French that left the entire party gasping at the beauty of it, especially as spake by France–2's new weather chickie, Tania. Also worth a peep – Marie Drucker doing the weekend news.
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, 4. September.
|Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
| No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
– Waldo Bini