Speaking of saunas, let me tell you about my new friends. Here's a rather longwinded and unedited report about last weekend, which I spent with a couple from Down Under:
Saturday afternoon I received a message from my new friend P, inviting me over to dinner with him and his partner M This is the couple that invited K. and myself over for Christmas lunch and who celebrated New Year's with us at K's. They're lovely guys, both of them, I can talk to them or each of them individually for hours.
P was born in the UK but last night he regaled me with stories of his delinquent youth in one of the toughest schools in Western Australia. M is from New Zealand originally, but seems to have assimilated into Australian culture. He was also in the Israeli army at the time of Gulf War I, you know the one with the Scud missiles. We tend to talk about politics, economics and social issues a lot. They've been together for over six-and-a-half years now, less than one has been spent here in The Netherlands.
As I arrived in Amsterdam a bit early, I decided to stop by Prik on the way. I had a couple of cups of coffee, because I hadn't had any real coffee since Friday morning (and I'm not even sure if I should count the machine coffee at the office as such; it does contain caffeine, though, so I suppose I must).
To meet them at their apartment at six pee em, I left Prik at 5.45, but just as I was thinking about turning into the little alleyway to get to the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal to catch a tram, I bumped into K coming towards me from the other direction. Immediately I was frogmarched back into Prik and loudly (but jokingly) accused of being a two-timing bitch, cheating on him with other homos and trying to run away before he saw me.
After one drink K drove me to P and M's apartment (I did call to say I'd been kidnapped and therefore would be slightly delayed) and went up while I fed the meter so that Ellen was safe from the nasty parking police - at least they stopped using wheelclamps as of January 1st. When I walked in he had staged it so that he was pretending to strangle P. for stealing his hag.
P and I are going to be gym buddies and we had an appointment with a Utrecht gym last Wednesday for an intake lesson*. Unfortunately he collapsed in a London club the Sunday before and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance. He went into respitory arrest and had to be intubated, most likely from a combination of combination of alcohol and GHB (he probably drank from the wrong glass). Shockingly, one of the nurses told him they get one person a night from that club with similar symptoms!
K left and we soon headed to a little beer bar just down the street - next to the day sauna - which was already pretty crowded. P managed to talk us onto an already-occupied table. The pub offers a wide selection of beers, a choice of wine that consists of red or white and about eight different dishes (plus two plates of the day). The beer and the food are excellent. P doesn't usually eat very much, but even he was gorging himself (plus he was putting bitesize chunks of his lamb and pesto on my plate...) I had the risotto without wild mushrooms but with asparagus and smoked salmon (the risotto may have been a bit bland on its own, but they worked together) and M also had the lamb. He would've had the game stew if it hadn't had wild boar in it.
As P enjoyed his red wine, M and I tasted different beers. I started with an amber beer, De Koninck, he had a Grimbergen Double (brown), then P ordered something for me because it had an unusual glass, but I found it too light to really enjoy it after the previous drink. About halfway M and I swapped and I got half of his secound Grimbergen Double. After that he had a Rochefort 8, another brown, and I wanted a Kriek, a Morte Subite, but they were all out of cherry beer, so I picked a raspberry one from another brand, which I can't remember.
When P and I left for their place, M, who always complains about not liking pubs, stayed to chat with our tablemates. He stayed out until midnight and almost joined them when they went dancing at Melkweg. In the meantime P and I were drining white wine and chatting. And sharing a joint. A double first for me: I'd never smoked anything and now I tried tobacco and marijuana. I can't say it did much for me, but P rolls them very thinly, quite elegant, not the clubsize ones you buy ready-rolled in every coffeeshop.
As I said, M came home around twelve, which is when I realised how late it was. They just pulled down the sofabed for me. (Of course I could've crashed at K's or even gone home, but it was easier and more fun to crash there...) P was tired from his recent ordeal and went upstairs, M and I chatted some more, until suddenly it was 2AM.
But at 9.30 the next morning I was wide awake. Sometimes you wake up and you can turn over and get back to sleep. It was clear this wasn't one of those times. So I had a relaxed morning reading the Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allen Poe, which I find fascinating in small doses.
When both my friends were up, P made us pancakes, which we had with real Dutch stroop - first time the bottle had been opened - jam and yoghurt (M's idea, not bad at all.) Then in the afternoon we walked over to the Allard Pierson Museum, where P breezed through the exhibitions, while M and I took them in at a more civilized pace.
Then when we were headed back to their place I bought three calla lilly bulbs, and said goodbye to my wonderful friends to catch a tram to the station. Just as I was getting on board, K called. It turned out he was at one of our favourite restaurants, Saturnino, an Italian restaurant on the Reguliersdwarsstraat. Practically feet away from where I caught the tram. I missed the next stop, but got off at the one after that, to get on a tram back to where I started.
We shared an absolutely delicious linguine with crab and tomato sauce. Sometimes it's hard making K eat properly, Saturnino's great food makes it a bit easier.
* i.e. the Wednesday before last. I did go to the gym, but he needed a bit more time to recover. His immune system got such a knock that he's still recovering from a cold, but he got a tour this last Wednesday. I have been several times AND I've done situps and the like at home to work on my abs. (Please DO praise me).
I need to think of nicknames to replace these damn initials...