FBQ Sunday Brunch 5/13/12

First of all, the Queen appreciates your spending this holiday created by manufacturers to say what we should be saying to mothers each day of the year: thank you for every sock you ever picked up; every last sausage you sacrificed so your child could have it; every soccer game you’ve seen; every tear you’ve wiped; every contraction you endured, and every hug that has made all of us feel special, safe and loved.

The Queen hopes your First Class seat to Amsterdam was comfortable. I saw a few of you Miss Things swigging down Moët & Chandon like it was water. Just remember we have a whole day ahead of us. His Royal Fierceness has spared no expense (including that HOT customs agent, Matthijs who helped speed us on our way) to make the day enjoyable. So let’s be off!

Just as soon as I can tear myself away from Matthijs.

The first time I visited Amsterdam, it was as a young actor who was literally whisked off to join a road company touring Europe and the Netherlands doing the musical Hair. When I told my old Southern aunts that I was going overseas to do Hair, they exclaimed: “I didn’t even know you was a Beautician!” Remind me to tell you a few stories about my adventures (including taking off my clothes next to Vanessa Williams every night) over brunch.

The dollar was very strong back then, and I was getting paid a very decent wage. Instead of saving it as most of my colleagues did, I went on a whirlwind spending spree. Along with my roommate Teddy and Vanessa, we would buy everything from shoes to Fine Art, and dropped guilders at the best restaurants and bars. I came home flat-broke…but I had the time of my life getting there.

Goed Voedsel

One of my favorite restaurants was a beautiful place called De Kas. Relatively new at the time, I had never experienced such fresh and flavorful cuisine. Being poor actors, most of our time was spent in fast food joints and such franchises as Wienerwald. So when we had the chance to go all out, we would do it. The restaurant is usually closed on Sunday, but they opened up just for us today.

photo by Joris Hoogstede

Built from an old greenhouse, De Kas grows much of its own herbs and vegetables. Don’t ask what’s on the menu–it changes every day. Our servers will ask us if we have dietary restrictions, or are allergic to anything. The only thing the Queen is allergic to is a server that isn’t smokin’ hot. To be fair, the staff will also ask you if you want to know in advance what the selection will be, but for me it was such a delight to be surprised by the varied and flavorful fare. Everything here is always superb. The wine list is extraordinary, but I am a creäture of habit. So for all of you getting off on the Moët–there’s more on the way. Told you not to imbibe so much on the flight!

Prachtig Onkruid

The first time I experienced a taste of Amsterdam was as a pit stop on our way to Helsinki, Finland. I will never forget the roar that went up from the bus when our Road Manager announced that we were going to have two hours to spend in the city before heading to Schiphol. The veterans of the tour grabbed us Newbies and took us to The Bulldog.

I remember clearly going downstairs with the gang and staring at a menu board with the types of weed and their prices. It took me a minute to understand what I was seeing and I would give anything to have a photo of what I looked like when it all dawned on me. I told the crew that I wasn’t exactly comfortable and a couple took me upstairs and told me to relax. They even bought me a cookie to help me pass the time.

They bought me a “space cookie.”

I didn’t need a plane to get to Finland. I was flying pretty high without one.

Perspectief van een Kind

When the Queen is abroad, I try desperately not to appear as a tourist. Of course there are many places where that isn’t possible. In Finland it is pretty hard for a husky gay black dude to blend in. In Amsterdam it was much easier–except for the fact that I don’t speak a word of Dutch (hard language). However I didn’t care if I looked like a tourist or not: I had to see the Anne Frank Museum.

With all that the Queen has going on right now, it is still so easy to forget that the world is filled with stories of people dealing with adversity. As I struggle through the logistics of my present situation, it really is helpful to remind myself of all the little girls and families–to this day–who are finding ways to thrive in the midst of persecution.

I’ve finally found a way to resist putting my adversity into a hierarchical competition with the rest of the world. It is so easy to beat oneself up, and to label your pain as petty and insignificant. Each of you Miss Things is going through your own upheaval–be it small or large. My situation and feelings about it are no less valid than Anne’s. It’s just different. But she and her family’s plight sure help give mine perspective. In the midst of the horror that they experienced there are lessons of kindness, family, courage and resilience that uplift and nourish me. The first moment I walked through the doors of the house, I could feel the danger and the fear that echoed through the floorboards. And I could also feel the love, the sacrifice, the courage that made this place a home at one time. What a blessing it is to experience someone else’s humanity in the face of such horror. It truly is one of the places in the world in which I have felt that we are not a disparate peoples scattered across continents. I felt that we are one: navigating through our fears, our hopes and our dreams.

Long flight back for some of us. The Queen could only afford First Class tickets one way. That and the expense of the brunch means we’ll be travelling Coach. AND I just found out we’ve got middle seats booked between a team of Sumo Wrestlers. Happy Mother’s Day!!!

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10 thoughts on “FBQ Sunday Brunch 5/13/12

  1. Oh yes, if I could drink again, I would be swigging Moet & Chandon White Star like it was going out of style. (of course, the minute I hit those boats I would be regretting it, but up until then…)

    A lovely brunch for Mother’s Day–almost as lovely as the one I had here with my mom and family members. Outdoors on her patio, nibbling on my freshly-baked scones (our Mom’s Day tradition) with butter and jam, as well as fresh fruit (watermelon, strawberries and bananas) and coffee. Couldn’t ask for anything better. 🙂

  2. Long-time lurker, first-time commenter here. I love your writing style but thought this piece was one of your best so far. I especially thrilled at the details from your time as a touring actor in Hair – the specificity made the story come alive for me. I followed you here from Tom & Lorenzo, and I don’t know the details of what you’ve been going through lately, but I want you to know that I wish you well and I am rooting for you and sending you thoughts of support. Your writing is inspiring for me.

  3. Mmmm, Amsterdam! Lovely, thank you! Unfotunately, after all that Moet, I nearly stumbled into one of the canals! Luckily, a strapping Dutchman caught me before I took an unintended swim.

    I laughed at the comment from your old Aunts regarding your news that you were going to Amsterdam to “do” Hair. Now, what I really want to know is, what did they say when you told them that you were going to be buck nekkid on stage every night with Vanessa Williams and the rest of the cast?

    Have a lovely week!

    P.S. “Aquarius” is now stuck in my head.

  4. Oh FBQ, I envy your ability to visit a place I know as the place where all my cool family live (and lament how I never get to see them). I love the Dutch. How can anyone not? So glad you went…and the Anne Frank House…it is just so haunting and so important to visit.

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