AKA - Meatball!
One of the things that drives me bat-shit mental about Hungarians, especially the more wrinkle clad females of the species, is their willingness to go out of their way to give me parental advice. They’ll cross roads, pursue me, hound me to the four corners of the globe, just to tell me what I should be doing with my new human. On numerous occasions in the past, elderly Hungarian women have randomly approached me in the street to urgently tell me things. Usually I have just smiled, nodded and walked on, oblivious to their ramblings until a little later on when my personal translator, Zsuzsa, has enlightened me.
“Your baby is cold!”
“Your baby needs thicker trousers!”
“You will suffocate your baby if you hang that muslin cloth there!”
“Make sure your child doesn’t run away in a crowd!”
“Where is your daughter’s hat!?”
And my absolute favourite, not really advice but still a bonafide nosey belter, from a complete stranger to my wife...
“Do you still have breast milk?”
You get the picture yes? Nosey busy-bodies strewn across these otherwise beautiful, foreign climes. Well as it transpires, they have rivals for their ‘unwanted advice crown’ within Europe.
We’re in Croatia. It’s a swelteringly hot summer’s day as I meander along the coastline with my three lovely ladies. Lola, in very uncharacteristic fashion for my chilled out youngest, is going apoplectic.
“It’s the heat.” surmises Zsuzsa. “The poor thing is piping hot.”
I gaze upon my baby girl, a red faced, sweaty, ballistic ball of rage.
“Do you think it’s because she’s a fat lass?” I ask.
Because she is. She’s a little meatball. I’m hoping it’s just a phase and that she’ll grow out of her ‘heavy’ period, as I have no plans to wheel her around in a wheelbarrow when she’s older.
“Fat people notoriously struggle with heat.” I add.
“She’s not fat!” Zsuzsa retorts.
“Her legs are like hocks of ham.”
“She’s a baby! Don’t call her fat.”
“Anya! Anya! Wedding!” interrupts Mila, noticing a wedding party outside a church not too far away. Then, in the blink of an eye Mila charges off towards the wedding with Zsuzsa in hot pursuit. Lola screams.
“Catch me up yeah?” I bellow after them, before trotting off with my screaming, sweaty baby.
Five minutes later, having been stopped by three elderly Croatian women of varying degrees of squatness, all who harboured ambitions of telling me that my baby needed water, I’m beginning to get a tad ratty. As I enter a park, Lola still screaming, I spot a woman sitting on a bench trying to get my attention and my heart sinks. I try to ignore her, but alas, and she’ll no doubt be delighted to be described as such, the woman is very much like a builder’s bum crack. And what I mean by this is that I do everything I can to avoid making eye-contact, but something peculiar compels me and our eyes meet. She sees this as an invitation and mimes the action of drinking water and then just to avoid any degrees of ambiguity follows this up by pointing at Lola whilst shouting “WATER!”. Well that’s it! Who do these strangers think they are!? Why do they think they know what’s best for my baby, better than I? The final straw lands on the camel’s back.
“NO!” I aggressively holler in the woman’s direction.
The woman frowns at me as I turn a corner at pace. Once out of eyesight, I take a look at my red faced, screaming, angry child, hide behind a tree and secretly give her water, whilst desperately attempting to remain secluded from any of my new ‘advisors’ . Of course Lola immediately loves the water and stops screaming. The treacherous little shit.
Later that day, as we drive back to Budapest, four hours of solid nursery rhymes under our belt, Zsuzsa turns to me and says “Mila was asking me if she can have a wedding.”
“What did you say?” I reply.
“I said one day. If she finds someone as good as Daddy, or better.”
I wince at the word “better”, and decide to attribute it to a language error.
“Then I explained that they will ask her to marry them and that if she wants to she can say ‘yes’, but only if she wants to. Then Anya, Mila and Lola will go shopping for a wedding dress. She punched the air in glee at this point.” continues Zsuzsa.
“Maybe we could bring back arranged marriages so that we can have more control in her partner choice.” I suggest.
“Ha!” snorts Zsuzsa. “She won’t let us choose her clothes for us now. What makes you think she’d let us choose her partner?“
It’s a fair point.
“Nevertheless I think we should attempt to pair Lola with the son of footballer Adam Lallana, and Mila with the grandson of the actor Alfred Molina.” I say, undeterred. “Lola Lallana and Mila Molina.”
Georgie Porgie begins to play on the car stereo, which after listening to circa ten times within a short space of time, I’ve decided is a tale of a sex pest.
“Or maybe they’ll be like their mother and keep their current surname?” suggests Zsuzsa.
I nod in approval.
I hope so. I hope they’ll be just like their mother. Crazy, beautiful, funny, clever and travel-size.
“I wonder if we’ll remember this conversation when they do get married?” I say, before adding “I hope I won’t have to roll Lola down the aisle in a wheelbarrow.”
“Fuck off honey” snaps Zsuzsa.
Now I’m sure some would see that response as an overreaction, but luckily I see immediately what’s going on. The poor things obviously thirsty.
I pass Zsuzsa the water bottle and we continue our nursery rhyme sound-tracked journey back to Buda.