Day 35 - Waiting for a Girl Like You

Waiting for a Girl Like You

Hands on Dad (not a painting of Freddie Mercury).

Hands on Dad (not a painting of Freddie Mercury).

Speaking as a man who is yet to witness a baby tearing his wife’s perineum apart with just its head, I think it’s the waiting that’s the hardest part.  We’ve been on tenterhooks for two weeks ever since the doctor remarked that the baby could come at any minute, but so far ‘nada’.  We can't go too far from base camp, I can't drink booze despite being surrounded by delicious Hungarian grape juice wherever I turn.   So we just sit and wait and when we’re not sitting we’re walking.  In fact, we’ve probably covered every yard of Budapest in the last week.  Which when you consider that my wife has to carry her belly in her arms, is quite a feat.  Across streets, over bridges, to fröccs and langós festivals, over hills, to a Picasso exhibition, through markets and even to a concert (Budapest Bar) she has carried that gigantic belly in her tiny arms.  She may look like an Easter Egg with legs, but I have to admire her pluck.   

In dire need of a wheelbarrow

In dire need of a wheelbarrow

But anyway, I’ve now been in Budapest for about a month and I’m with a friend at a small beer garden (Spiler) near Buda Castle.  The friend has a two year old child and he may not yet realise this, but he is my Obi-Wan Kenobi of fatherhood.  With Junior’s arrival looming large I am looking for reassurance, guidance and a few handy tips of how best to keep a human cub alive.  I’m also trying to assess just how tough the first few weeks of parenthood might be.

“You know the first couple of weeks with the baby?” I say.

He throws back the hood of his robe, leans upon his staff, looks me in the eye and then wisely replies, “Yes”.  This is good.  So far, all positive. 

“Will I be able to get any sleep?”, I ask.

At this he laughs so hard that food comes out of his nose.  I am surprised by this response.  Mainly because he wasn’t even eating at the time.

“I didn’t get any sleep for the first three months!” he snorts.  “You’re going to be so tired that you won’t be able to feel your bloody face!”.  He chortles.  “Take my advice young padawan.  Get as much sleep as you can now as you won’t be able to sleep once the baby arrives!  You’ll look and feel like SHIT!”. 

Naturally, I am thrilled by these words. 

"But still, I guess I should count my blessings that I don't have a nine to five job at the moment.  Right now every day is Saturday!", I remark, striving for an upbeat finish.

"As soon as the baby comes everyday will be a Monday!", he sneers.  

I consider whether I need a new Obi-Wan, whilst wondering if my friend has ever considered a career as a motivational speaker.  

A snap of Liberty Bridge from one of our many walks

A snap of Liberty Bridge from one of our many walks

Lazy bastards lounging on Liberty Bridge

Lazy bastards lounging on Liberty Bridge

Nevertheless I have tried to take this sagacious advice on board and have been attempting to hibernate as much as possible.  For two weeks I’ve been half man, half dormouse, but as we reach the finishing straight it’s not as easy as one would think to pop off to the land of nodsville.  The reason being is that I have discovered that once darkness falls I now achieve an unnaturally high state of alertness.  I am a cowboy sleeping with one eye open.  A praying mantis poised to strike.  A man shitting it that his wife is going to go into labour.  I think this newfound ability stems from someone once telling me that babies are most likely to come at night.  The ‘apparent’ reason being that our instincts tell us that as it’s quiet, there’s a lesser chance of predators being around.  I think this sounds like 'utter bollocks' as surely more predators come out at night, but nevertheless my subconscious mind believes them.  

Pablo Picasso The Finger Puppet.  The toy that all kids crave for.

Pablo Picasso The Finger Puppet.  The toy that all kids crave for.

It’s two in the morning.  My wife gets out of bed to empty her battered bladder.  Like a ninja I sense her stirring.  My eyes shoot open and I sit up in bed, like a meerkat on speed.

“Are you alright honey?  What’s up?”  I ask, but before she can reply I am already wearing trousers and searching for the car keys. 

“Need a wee.” she wearily replies.  My trousers are off and I am back in bed.  But I cannot sleep as I am fully alert, heart pounding.  About thirty minutes later I eventually begin to drift off.  Then up she clambers.  I’m awake again.  I’m wearing trousers.  She is weeing.  Back to bed.  Repeat every thirty minutes until dawn.  

Come on Junior!  Please don’t take after your mother and be late.  We’re waiting for you!

Nearly being a father is tougher than I’d imagined.

Budapest Bar

Budapest Bar

Day 2 - The Sausage

The Sausage

I’ve been in Budapest for two days now and I fancy a sausage.  As luck would have it, I’m standing outside a shop on Szent Istvan Kerut that looks suspiciously as though it may contain sausages.  I wander inside and intrepidly make my way through the shop.  Aisles of tinned food, bottles of potent spirits, fresh tomatoes, peppers and cheeses try to put me off the meaty scent, but they are doomed to failure.  Nothing can stand between this man and his sausage. 

I reach the back of the shop and I am delighted.  For in front of my sparkling eyes lies some kind of sausage Babylon.  Rows and rows of delicious, processed, animal meat hang, delectable, delightful and practically screaming out to be devoured.  “Come eat us!” they plead.  “You are our destiny!” they somewhat creepily chant.  But the path to my sausage destiny is not as simple as you may be currently imagining.  Oh no!  For I must first get past the sausage guardian who stands before me, behind a meat counter, guarding her meaty treasures.  I am not fooled by her appearance.  She may resemble a sweet, if slightly hairy, little Hungarian lady, but I know she is carved from granite with an unbreakable, iron will to protect these sausages from the unworthy.  She has sworn an oath to these slender tubes of meat, and around here that means something.

A meaty Babylon

A meaty Babylon

Cautiously I take my position in a three person queue.  Another elderly Hungarian lady comes and stands to my right and this throws me.  Who is this brazen harlot, this free spirit, this renegade who doesn’t abide by the law of the queue.  Stand behind, not to the side!  With my British upbringing, naturally, I am falling apart inside.  While this battle is enraging, the leader of the sausage queue claims her meat and moves aside and the queue moves forward.  Surely this challenger to my rightful throne will now hold back a step so that order can be assumed?  But no!  What is this treachery!?  She moves forward with me, in unison!  We are side, by side!  My mind is racing.  Beads of sweat are forcing their way through the pores in my forehead.  I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, that the next three minutes were some of the most stressful of my lifetime as this mental and physical battle took place.  But, with a series of throat clearings, a subtle use of elbows and an ability to spread myself to three times my usual width, I eventually thwarted the challenger, despite her aggressive use of walking stick.

And now I’m at the counter, just me and the sausage guardian, face to face.  But, then it hits me.  I haven’t chosen my sausage poison!  I had been so engrossed in fighting off my queue challenger that I hadn’t prepared myself mentally for my next challenge!

“Szia”, bellows the guardian menacingly.  

“Uh, szia”, I skilfully retort.

“Kekndflsecnejnflzefmwmdzzwsnz?” apparently asks the guardian.  

And in the heat of battle I panic.  All of those Hungarian classes that I have been taking to prepare me for this epic moment are wasted.  I can barely remember English.  My queue challenger shuffles behind me, with menace.  In that moment all I can do is grunt and point at one particular sausage adorning the wall.  The sausage guardian looks at me and seems confused.

“Horz!”, she says.  

I have no idea what that means.  I mentally travel back to my Hungarian class in London, racking my brain.  No, ‘horz’ is a new word for me.  I nod defiantly.

“Horz?” she says again, although this time adding a question mark.  

The sausage guardian is apparently perplexed by my choice of sausage.  Is this a trick?  I need to be assertive and demonstrate that I am worthy of this treasure.  I need to display my balls of steel (not literally).  I compose myself.

“Igen, köszönöm szepen”, I reply, suddenly delighted with my use of the native tongue.

The guardian, clearly impressed by my linguistical magnificence, but trying to play it cool, shrugs, grabs the sausage from it’s hook, wraps it in paper and hands it to me.  I return the kind gesture by crossing the guardians palm with forint, turn and triumphantly leave.  I have won.  I am the penitent man!  I have passed the test.  I have seen off my challenger.  I will now return home to my basecamp, present my heavily pregnant wife with the fruits of my victory and we will enjoy sausage!

Thirty minutes later.

“Honey.  Why have you bought a horse sausage?”

We order a pizza.