This weekend, my friend Sita had to show around her boss's teenage daughter who was flying into New York from Budapest. My grandparents and parents speak fluent Hungarian, and even though my parents had never set foot in Hungary (you can thank World War II for that one), I decided to study abroad in Budapest while a junior in college. While most of my "peers" on the program were douchebags from Georgetown U. (really only 2 of them were douchebags but its amazing how a little vinegar can spoil a soup), I still managed to have one of the most amazing times of my life. I dream of going back, once I have vacation days, money, and friends. Oh, to dream. If you haven't been, seriously consider it: You can eat a trough-full of strange breaded meats for under ten dollars.
The one interesting thing about me (seriously, the only interesting thing) is that I am terrible -- TERRIBLE -- at languages. So even though I grew up in this magyarul-speaking household, and even though I lived and breathed Hungarian culture for a few months, that one chunk of brain that supposedly absorbs foreign languages remains a lonely, blank wipe-off board in a dimly-lit conference room in an office that used to house a barely successful dot-com company before the bust.
So I meet up with Sita, her fiance Justin (an adorable couple, I promise), and the boss's daughter, a lovely 14-year-old who speaks little English. What follows are the only phrases I could remember in Hungarian that I passed along to our little foreign friend.
*Very pretty view
*Let's play cards
*(spoken at Wendy's) Hello! How are you? Thanks. I would like one chicken salad and one small coffee with milk.
*A limerick: I go to school, my leg hurts. I come home, it doesn't hurt anymore.
*One - Ten
*Another limerick, fondly referred to around my house as "Shari Neni":
Aunt Neni is cooking beans,
and from her asshole, steam is coming.
*I feel sick
*I don't know
*Goulash (ironically, in Hungarian, pronounced Goo-yash.)
*Soup (Foods took about 7 minutes to complete)
*Crazy woman banging on my door. (which is part of a great story involving, you guessed it.)
*Dude, Where's My Car? (also fun to say: Hey, Hah-ver, Hole a Coach-eem?)
*I have no money.
Considering that Hungary is tied with Finland for Europe's top two divorce, suicide and alcoholism rates, she obviously had the best time. I knew this because every time I would say something in Hungarian, she would bury her head in her hands, look at the clock on the wall, and then avoid eye contact with me. Also, did you know that there's a Hungarian "liquor" called "Unicum"? It's made from beetle throw-up, tarragon, molasses, watermelon seed extract, and Gary Busey's sperm. Supposedly it's a "cure-all." Get your hands on some.
Myth: It is not uncommon for Hungarian 8-year-olds to brew their own "prune brandy."