Friday, April 3, 2009

Monday - Can't Trust That Day

A Monday night in Amsterdam can offer many things. Most people are likely too tired to do much after a long day back in the office, so they retire to their abode for a hearty, yet easy meal. They will feel themselves satisfied after said meal and unwind in front of their televisions to fill their mind with the useless programming offered by the many cable companies and broadcasters cross their respective lands.

This is how many Monday nights will play out for the masses. I know that is how they normally play out for me. But this past Monday was different. The sun was shining and the birds were singing. It was the first in a succession of nice days. A sign that spring was surely just around the corner. That was encouragement enough.

"Today," I thought to myself, "I will take advantage of this gorgeousness that is a spring day and pump up the basketball." It had been sitting, half-deflated, in my closet for what seemed like months, and in anticipation of the days to follow, I decided to fill that rubberous sphere back to its former glory. And so I did.

I had planned to meet Amanda for dinner (neither of us could be bothered to make anything - that too familiar Monday feeling) and had a half an hour to spare. I used that time, ball in hand, to take to the courts.

I was rusty, that much was clear. Aside from the ninety minutes I had played nine days before, I hadn't played since the previous summer. Towards the end of my quick session of hoops, I found where I was going wrong.

Due to the state of the rim itself; bent, broken and overly misused, it was virtually impossible for the ball - as spherical as it was - to pass through the hoop, whose spherical shape had so obviously been receding over the years. And so I started to increase the arc of my shot. Rather than pushing the ball from my chest (a technique I learned did not help so much with the aim of my shot, but rather hinder it,) I started to shoot from behind my head, aiming it like Larry Bird did in his heyday.

This technique drastically improved my aim, as I could see the exact point of release, and therefore increase my shooting percentage. Unfortunately, it could not be put into practise and see if it truly worked, as I was scheduled to meet Amanda for dinner at 6:30.

Dinner was a very casual affair at an upscale little place on the Haarlemmerstraat called, "STOUT!" I found the prices to be extortionate for the type (and amount) of food you would get. The menu was quiet limited (as would be expected in this sort of place,) but what was on offer was not of the quality one would expect. Amanda's steak was well-cooked and her munster mousseline potato sidedish was the perfect accompaniament, but I personally felt that I could get a decent steak at a thousand and one restaurants across Amsterdam for a third of the price and be just as underwhelmed.

I chose the ribs, which was a dubious decision to begin with, as I had reasoned with myself that I shouldn't get the same dish as Amanda. Why? I don't even know that. Two small racks of ribs were presented to me by a cutesy waitress who was not worth the tip which we left behind. I've had decent ribs before, which were equal parts delicious and inexpensive. And they didn't even need an overly sweet barbecue sauce to cover up the tastelessness of the meat. A huge disappointment in my eyes.

The only saving grace to this dish of mine was the fact that I could have had more. The eyecatching detail on the menu stated 'not unlimited, but give it your best shot!' And so the idea was that they set the plate of ribs in front of you and ask you if you'll be wanting more. I told the girl that I thought that would be enough, and it was. Once I finished my meal, I found myself agreeing with my original decision. I could have eaten another rack, but at the time I was full. "What would be the point," I thought, "in stuffing myself with inadequate food?" It just wasn't going to be worth the discomfort I would have most definitely been feeling afterward.

I bid adieu to Amanda and made my way toward Utrechtsestraat. I had planned to meet up with an old friend that evening, and Amanda was set for a long night of work.

Taking a seat in a small beercafe on the corner of the Frederiksplein and Utrechtsestraat, Cafe Oosterling was decked out with old fashioned barrels, labelled with the drinks of old: Jenever, Anisette, Brandy, etc.. the owner of the joint informed me that they were just for show, and so taking me for a tourist, I entertained him with the story of how I found myself in his cafe on that particular evening, surprising him by saying that I'd been living in his country for over four years.

By the time I got around to telling him how I found myself in Amsterdam, Steven Shaw walked in the door. I hadn't seen Steve in years and it was good to catch up. I asked about his brother, whom I had known before, but he regretted to tell me that he had seen Dave probably just as much as I had, which I knew to be false as I hadn't laid eyes on the man for a good three eyars, but i did not question him on the matter at the time.

Adam showed up and we trudged off for some Tapas.

The Pata Negra is a notoriously run establishment along the same street, who are known for their lack of proper Spanish olive oil and subsequently overpriced dishes.

We drank cervezas leisurely and had many dishes of greasy seafood and cured meats. A Spanish waitress had caught our eye and we entertained her with our Western charm, cordially asking her to join us for a drink when she had finished her shift. She politely refused, based on the grounds we had been drinking and were in no fit state to entertain a beautiful lady such as she. We took this as a sign of subtle respect, paid our bill and went on our merry way.

Popping into a late night cafe down the road for a nightcap on the way home, we had a few more laughs and then parted weays.

It just goes to show you, that everyday can bring surprises. Even a Monday.

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