The Kindness of Strangers

The Annual New Jersey Hungarian Festival occurs the furst weekend of June in New Brunswick. As much as I am looking forward to having a little bit of fresh lángos with powdered sugar, I always get worried when I take my family to public events. I already mentioned the whole ordeal concerning “The Secret Language” but sometimes, Nagymama’s actions speak louder than her words.

Every time we attend the festival, we always make sure to stop at the Athletic Club around dinner time to sit down and enjoy truckloads of stuffed cabbage, kielbasa, and other Hungarian goodies. We usually all sit down at the long rows of tables while we eat so we could enjoy a free performance from the talented Hungarian Folk dancers. One time, we were so enamored by what was happening on stage that no one noticed when Nagymama wandered away.

It wasn’t until I heard the table next to us laughing hysterically that we even noticed that she was gone. Apparently, she quietly strolled over to another table, grabbed a bottle of Hungarian “Bull’s Blood” wine from in front of a random stranger, pour herself a glass, and sat back down.

“Oh, my gosh!” I’ll pay for it!” I shouted over to them.

As I apologized, Nagymama effortlessly popped her teeth out of her mouth, tore off a piece of rye bread from her stuffed cabbage platter, shoved the bread into the wine, and then began sucking on the bread loudly. The table of strangers started laughing even harder.

“Don’t worry about the wine,” they said in Hungarian, “It’s payment enough watching your lovely grandmother enjoy herself.”

“Nagymama, say thank you for the wine,” my aunt said to her.

“This bread is sh*t,” Nagymama replied, as she finished the last inch of wine and continued to suck on the bread crust. “Complete sh*t. If they don’t give good bread, the whole place will go to hell. Sari, can you go get me a soda?”

Of course, the strangers laughed even harder and actually poured her another glass of wine. It’s a good thing that Hungarians have a good sense of humor 🙂

Photo by Vangelis Thomaidis