The other day I decided to take the tram home. You know those days when nothing really goes wrong in a major way, but it’s filled with these annoying little things that just keep happening, until, finally, right at the end of it, something just saves the day? I’d been at it all day, but around 7:30 pm I decided to concede to Fate and slink home. I just sat down on the first seat I could find, with only one mission in mind: get home, have dinner, forget this day ever happened. The couple behind me started talking, and I had to use all my self-control to stop from shaking with laughter. I couldn’t really turn to see what they looked like because even my curiosity has its limits when it comes to rudeness (old-school Hungarian dad), but the girl, who was in her very early twenties was either suffering from sunstroke or high (I’m guessing high), and the guy was trying to keep his white hair as short as possible without having to shave it all off so people knew he was trying to show how hard he was not trying to cover up some bald spots. His age? Around 55-65 based on his voice. I really couldn’t get a look at his face no matter how hard I squirmed, and believe me, I squirmed a lot. He was either her pimp or her dad, but my money really is on the former. The whole thing was so comical and surreal, it should have been performance art provided by the City of Budapest for the entertainment of its passengers. As an aside, I’m sure if they came up with that, far more people would take public transportation without being asked to do so. And would even pay for it.
When I sat down behind them, he was already on the phone. As luck would have it, he had just started dialing.
“Have the money ready,” he instructed. “I’m coming for it now.”
The other person said something.
“I don’t care,” he replied. “I’m there. Bye. Oh, and hope your mother gets well.”
The girl was visibly impressed with this feat.
“Are we going to your apartment,” she asked after a while.
The pimp must have nodded, because she immediately followed this up with,”what do you want to do in your apartment.”
“Sex,” he replied.
“Oh,” she said. Then told him she’d brought nothing.
“So you’re just coming over like that,” he asked. “No clothes, nothing. Just naked.”
I assumed that the girl nodded, by the time I’d squirmed enough in my seat to get a discreet look, she was telling him how she could sell anything to anyone. I decided right then and there that I’d stay on for as long as they did, no matter how many stops past mine they went. I wasn’t disappointed.
A stop or two later a man in his thirties got on with his son, who looked to be in his very early teens. They were lugging a huge suitcase and a shopping bag with them, one of those that look like the blue IKEA bags but have a zipper. Now, they were Roma, and that did not sit overly well with the white, very pale, very balding pimp. Both father and son were standing by the other door, so a few seats away from the pimp, who had to turn around to look at them. He kept trying to get the man to come see him, but the man very politely declined. Then the pimp went after the son, calling him over. It was a smart move on his part. In most Hungarian families, when your elders ask you to do something, you jump.
“You owe me, money,” he said.
“No Sir, I don’t,” the kid replied, very politely. “I don’t owe anyone any money.”
The pimp insisted, even going so far as to say he’d seen the boy with a “fake beard” at a certain location.
“I don’t go there ever,” the boy replied, still very polite and respectful to his elder. “And I don’t have a fake beard of any kind.”
The father then called his son back. But the old pimp still hadn’t had enough.
“What’s in those bags,” he wanted to know.
“Nothing is in those bags,” the father replied.
The pimp insisted. For a while. Until the father spoke again.
“His mother robbed us blind,” said the man, nodding at his son.
“Did she now,” the pimp asked, then shrugged. “Eh, what can you do. Life.”
“Such is life,” the father agreed before he and his son got off.
The girl decided it was a good time to reminisce, saying a few names of people she knew and how she missed them. Then inquired about the whereabouts of a mutual friend of theirs.
“Prison,” the old pimp said.
“No shit,” the girl replied.
“Yeah, shit,” remarked the old pimp.
“How long for,” asked the girl.
“Forever,” replied the pimp. “He’s not even hoping he’ll get out. What he did, he’s not coming out.”
Unfortunately, that was when the tram started rattling so loudly you couldn’t even hear anyone if they shouted in your ear, and the happy couple decided to get off. Totally saved my day though.