On the 23rd of september 1922, a group of artists and intellectuals in Amsterdam, looking for a place to call home, founded an association they called De Kring (the circle). For decades all activities took place in a loft. A thorough renovation in 1997 allowed for expansion to the floor above, where one now can dine among friends and colleagues. The lower level, now is the lounge, with bar, billiard, easy chairs, and reading table.
An evening at De Kring.
The waitress told us we could take a seat at the narrow members’ table, which easily set twenty diners. We were the first, and wanting to make the most of our first night in Amsterdam, I chose to sit in the very middle, leaving room for adventure on both our sides.
Who would sit next to us? Whom would we meet? After ordering drinks and entrees, I left for the powder room. We clearly had arrived at the right time. When I returned, the restaurant was abuzz with activity. I noticed Eefje Asser(1922-2002), mother of our friend David get up from her chair next to Gary.
“Let’s take a separate table,” she said to her husband Eli Asser, who had taken the chair next to mine. Reading her mind, I knew she didn’t want to sit next to whom she considered a total stranger. Hugging Eli from the back, I smiled at Eefje saying, “Imagine, running into you two like this, what good fortune.” Recognizing me, she took another look at Gary, “Oh, my goodness, it’s you guys, well now I’m staying.”
The wine arrived and all of us toasted with playwright Lodewijk de Boer (1937-2004) to my left, who was dining with a Scandinavian colleague seated on Gary’s right side. The man to Eefje’s left, who was digging into his steak and thin French fries, put down his knife to lift his glass as well, saying something to Eli about the latter’s play in progress.
Gary’s steak, “frites” and salad, and my kidney stew arrived. Eli and Eefje wished us “bon appetit”, the Dane and Lodewijk nodded in unison. We wouldn’t all be served at the same time, but we shared each other’s company. Good times at the common table.