Most of you will realize, some won’t.. But July 29 is my birthday.. I don’t usually make a big number out of it, but a lot of you remembered me still and sent good wishes in one way or the other.. And for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart 🙂
I’m not usually big on the whole birthday thing, it’s not really my thing.. And truth be told, this year I really wasn’t gonna make a thing out of it.. Or so I thought.. Unfortunately, or fortunately I should say, Tina disagreed with this decision of mine and had plans of her own.
My original plans for my birthday involved having Tina over for dinner and our usual weeknight routine of a good bottle of wine and maybe a drink or two.. This is meant as no disrespect to my other friends, it’s a matter of a simple combination of the fact that I wasn’t mentally up for anything, really, and the fact that a birthday without my bestest, little friend would just be plain weird.. So, I invited her over, expecting she had no plans for the evening (which she of course didn’t), and quite honestly told her that I didn’t know how much I was up for but couldn’t imagine having a birthday without her..
Of course it was to be expected that Tina knows me a little more than I know myself, so I suspect from that from the get-go she deducted that a birthday without anything special happening wasn’t really what I wanted, so after having considered the invitation for about five seconds, she immediately said yes and also suggested that since it was my birthday, I shouldn’t be slaving over the cooking but rather have her cook me dinner for a change. Since Tina cooking for me is about the highest form of pampering I know of in this world, I immediately agreed and was more than happy to settle with this. But apparently my lovely little sidekick had other plans for me and took it upon herself to, in her own little way, help make the day better for me.
Long story short, she convinced her boyfriend, Jeppe, to buy us the round of beers he owed us on my birthday, and she convinced me to invite Jeppe, Christian and Emelie for my birthday as well, agreeing to cook for them as well. She basically set up – or helped set up – the whole thing while making it look, and making me feel, like I was doing it myself.. That’s just how awesome she is. It may seem like just little things, but when you can’t even be bothered to celebrate your own birthday, it’s a pretty big deal altogether.. All in all, the prospects for the day were pretty promising, and come Thursday the 29th, I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s funny, really, even with 170+ Facebook friends, a popular weblog and a past as a prominent player in shaping student life in a major Danish city as well as several runs of employment in larger companies, you don’t really feel as if your very existence has much of an impact on other people. Not until your birthday rolls around anyways, and you suddenly get flooded with all sorts of attention. Birthday text messages start flooding in randomly at 12 midnight and keep coming for 2-3 odd hours. You manage a bit of sleep for a few hours until you’re woken at 7 AM by the next stream followed by a call from your mother at 8 AM. You get up at about 8:30 AM only to find your Facebook profile getting flooded with even more well wishes. You try to reply to them all but have to eventually give it a break on account of having things to do.
I spent the morning of my birthday in a relaxed manner for the first time in like forever, making a few good cups of coffee as well as an omelette made of fresh free-range eggs, basil, Parmesan cheese and other good stuff. I then did some cleaning and kicked back a little since I figured I was allowed to do so on my birthday. Tina arrived at around noon, looking bright and chipper and absolutely beautiful with her big smile, little summer dress, white blouse and golden stilettos which in no way matched the rest of her clothing but were still very pretty and approved owing to the simple fact that I have a thing for stilettos (the were, by the way, later switched for a pair that did match, making for an even happier Johan). She gave me a big smile, an even bigger hug and a birthday present in the shape of a bottle of fine, custom import Italian extra virgin olive oil, a sweet, personal card and a small Julienne cutter.. Which is the kinda present you’d have to be inside our heads to understand the importance and symbolism of, so for the sake of keeping this post short.. Err.. Well, less long.. Let’s leave it at saying it was a very considerate, personal present which made me very happy.
Having thusly exchange pleasantries, love and affection, we dove right into our habit of bickering and arguing about everything and nothing – including whether or not Tina should ditch some of her clothes or slip into something shorter, lighter and more comfortable.. And for the record, I was against such changes! (No, I don’t really know what was wrong with me either, but gosh-darn-it, she looked good in what she was in). This argument, and several other offshoots thereof, continued all the way down to the local supermarket where we were eventually, essentially, bent over one of the big open refrigerators in the meat section, basically yelling at one another about who was wearing the pants in this particular relationship and who exercised which powers over whom and whether or not this was indeed a fair distribution of power.. Pretty much scaring the shit out of several elderly married couples who were out shopping for lunch and thanking their lucky stars that even in their 50 odd years of marriage, things hadn’t degenerated THIS much for them.
Between bitter arguments, insults, fun poking and little blondes sticking their noses in the air and making pouty lips in their best effort to seem upset and horribly mistreated, we actually managed to shop not only for the evening’s dinner but also for our lunch – a little something I suggested we have before walking off and having a couple of rounds of beer.. It seemed reasonable, even Tina would have to agree. So we gathered our things, went through the registers – where I had a brisk little fight with the familiar woman behind the register just for the sake of giving Tina a chance to breathe (and a good laugh) – and walked back to my place. That is, we walked about 2/3 of the way before I realized I’d made Tina carry the heavy grocery bag all the way while I, myself, was running around with a baguette and a piece of flank steak. So we switched, I apologized, and we went home and had a bit of miscommunication followed by a light lunch of Ciabatta bread, olive oil and smoked salmon on the terrace.
At around 2-ish, we went down to Tina’s where above-mentioned golden stilettos were traded for a stylish black pair and we hooked up with Jeppe who walked with us down to ye Olde Englishe Pubbe downtown where we met up with Christian and Emelie for a pint on Jeppe who had recently landed a job. We sat here, talking, arguing, reminiscing for a while, much to the delight of an elderly gentleman who sat at a table next to us and had many a laugh on our behalf. We then eventually went back to my place to have a beer or two in the sun which had actually peeked out for a total of like 20 minutes that day. We were joined for this beer by my mom who also wanted to wish me a happy birthday as well as to say hello to the gang, most of which she hadn’t seen in ages. It was good times and everybody, my mom and myself included were in a great mood. Mom couldn’t stay long, though, as she had to head home and pack for the weekend, so she headed out again, the others headed inside and Emelie and I stayed outside for a short while as she had agreed to give me a much needed free haircut for my birthday – just another small bit of pampering that the Johan truly appreciated.
When we’d finished.. Best as we could anyways, as the trimmer ran out of battery, we headed inside to the others. Tina and I pretty quickly headed into the kitchen where, in a rather strange turn of events, we had a cooking session of her telling me what to do and me doing what she said while letting her do most of the work. We’d sent the others off to Tina’s to pick up plates and cutlery as my home still is not equipped for more than four diners at once and while they were gone, we sneaked a quality brew out of the fridge and into a couple of glasses. You don’t cook without alcohol in Johan’s house, and you don’t serve Tina sub-par alcohol in Johan’s house, especially not when she’s cooking for you on your birthday. So hat’s off to the special occasion brew that ended it’s days to please us on my birthday. It was much appreciated.
Truth be told, it felt a little gosh-darn weird to have Tina being the one calling the shots in my kitchen – for my birthday dinner – but not in an uncomfortable way. Tina’s an extremely talented cook with great attention to quality through simplicity and attention to detail. She’s gotten incredibly far in the time I’ve known her – which isn’t to say that she was bad to begin with – and I can’t help but feel a little proud since she consequently blames me for her teaching her a lot of tricks of the trade. It’s only too bad for her that she’s let me find out how great she’s gotten as I’m now gonna have her cook for me more often.. Even so, she still let me supervise and give her a few pointers here and there and she even demanded I fry the flank steak, so I still got to feel like I had a bit on her.. Good times, once again!
As the others eventually returned with the needed plates and cutlery, and some not needed plates and cutlery as well, we set the table, found the wine glasses, poured a glass of wonderful Rosé wine and sat down to have Tina’s starter of Ca.. Some-or-other.. Call it whatever fancy names you want, babe, it’s a tomato, Mozzarella, basil leaf salad.. It was still exceedingly good, though 🙂 Even the carnivores devoured it and had top points for both the salad and the wine.
Following the starter, Tina prepped another salad, this time a warm one consisting mainly of Rucola salad and rare, thinly sliced, marinated, flank steak, drizzled with salt and pepper and good quality extra virgin olive oil served with a side of fresh fettucini pasta tossed with Parmesan cheese, sun dried tomatoes, basil, olive oil and pine nuts.. Italian simplicity at its best and absolutely to die for.. And I’m really not just saying that because the cook is my best friend, it’s the kinda dish I wish I could’ve taken credit for.. Which is probably why I ate two servings, nicked pieces of beef of Tina’s plate (breaking one of our house rules which she forgave me for this once on account of me being the birthday boy), had an extra serving later that night after the guests had left as well as having it for both breakfast and lunch the next day.. Yum!
I’d opened my last bottle of a fine Chianti I had laying around for the occasion and pretty quickly had to open another bottle of slightly inferior wine on account of everything going so well and people enjoying themselves. I don’t honestly remember the exact events of the evening, my head was a little full of all of the impressions of the day, but we hung out, had fun, chatted, Christian and Jeppe chased off at some point to go settle a bet on the make of some car they’d spotted across the street, I sold my bike to Jeppe and Emelie and I finished up my hair.. That and other things as well.. It really was a swell evening and the whole gang stayed over till past midnight, essentially spending my whole birthday with me before heading home, leaving me with a ton of dishes (and a dishwasher in which to do them), a full stomach, a buzzing head and a feeling of joy and of being appreciated.. Such a good day and once again thanks to all who participated and to all of those of you from California to New Zealand and Australia who sent me good wishes for my birthday.. They’re very, very appreciated.
Oh and Tina, I’m sorry I mocked you and questioned you when you were having trouble and feeling uncomfortable walking around in your stilettos when really I should have thanked you for prettying up and dressing up for my birthday. It was, admittedly, a little inconsiderate of me. I won’t make you lasagna because I don’t feel it’s that big of a slip on my behalf, but I WILL buy you dinner on Saturday.. And not ask you to walk around much in the process 😉