Tuesday, September 21, 2004

This Could Happen

Cookie is an American woman living in Budapest. She has some friends in Budapest, but not many. The natives tend to find her too cheerful, the Swiss expats find her appallingly unreserved, and the Ecuadorians are busy with their boyfriends. So Cookie must spend her 29th birthday alone.

As her moniker would indicate, Cookie has an insatiable appetite for simple carbohydrates and refined sugars. But she gained at least 3 kilos from sundry baked good-consumption in her first two months living in Budapest. Cookie's Vanity won out over her Gluttony when Cookie cut herself off from said treats. However, she decides that a birthday spent alone is pathetic enough to warrant unrestrained carbohydrate consumption. She should at least be entitled to the yummy Transylvanian honey bread known as kürtőskalács, in which raw dough is wrapped around a hot metal pipe, and then rolled in the topping of one’s choice. Cookie likes coconut.

Cookie has also had to cut down on her alcohol consumption because good wine is absurdly cheap in Hungary, and good and cheap has always been a dangerous combination for Cookie. But, again, she is alone on her birthday, so she allows herself to indulge and buys a few bottles of her favorite red.

Back at her flat, Cookies pours her first glass and remembers how punk rock always makes her feel better, so she puts on some Ramones. She dances around the extremely posh silk-walled apartment, which belongs to her client. She jumps up and down in anarchic revelry, and she spontaneously kisses Lenin’s bald head in the painting that is officially a National Treasure of Hungary. This makes her giggle; punk is good stuff!

Several glasses later, Cookie is tired from jumping around pretending to be in a mosh pit with the founding fathers of Communism. Just like Joey Ramone, she wants to be sedated, so she puts on some Bartok. She realizes she’s getting sort of hungry and it’s already late, so she goes to the kitchen to get her birthday kürtőskalács. She remembers seeing a box of those big tapers that go in candlesticks, yes, there above the espresso-maker, and she decides to stick one in the middle of the kürtőskalács. The kürtőskalács sort of tears open, and the candle is leaning over to one side, but it’s more or less vertical.

She brings it into the living room, sets it on the table, lights the candle, and starts singing the words of “Happy Birthday” in a stilted parallel with Bartok’s “Slightly Tipsy” whilst holding aloft her wine glass, swishing it back and forth and imagining that the great maestro is conducting a special birthday concert at the gilded Operaház in her honor. Everyone is there to wish Cookie a happy birthday. The depressed Hungarians are sort of smiling, the Swiss are sort of laughing, and the Ecuadorians brought their boyfriends along. With eyes closed in symphonic ecstasy and a zealous upward conductorial arc of her arm, Cookie knocks over the kürtőskalács, which is after all, cylindrical, and the candle catches the tablecloth on fire. She throws her wine on the tablecloth to put the fire out, but the alcohol gives fuel to the fire, contributing to a bona fide inferno. She runs around the flat, fruitless figure-eighting into the bedroom, into the hallway, into the study, back in the living room, back into the bedroom, and so on, looking for her mobile. Meanwhile, the inferno spreads to consume the oil painting of Lenin (National Treasure of Hungary,) thus destroying it.

After a brief but unpleasant spell in the foghaz (Hungarian for slammer), the government decides it must deport Cookie for reasons of national security as her gaffe has the unexpected effect of creating political instability in the fledgling democracy via galvanizing the old guard Communists, who effect a renewed solidarity catalyzed by their outrage at what they interpret as a ruthless and bizarre capitalistic ritual. They take to the streets around Parliament with picket signs depicting a thick red diagonal line bisecting Cookie’s besotted and startled face in a police photograph taken following the conflagration. At the bottom, in English: “Crumble This Cookie.” Cookie is summarily expelled from Hungary, never allowed to return, branded forever as the pathetic drunken American who spent her birthday alone in her flat and burned Hungary's National Treasure. Cookie consequently loses her taste for sweets, wine, and punk rock. She becomes fatally insipid, moves to Waycross, Georgia, and spends her days eating toast.

The End


At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so...what DID happen?!

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Irma Vep said...

I'm happy to report that Cookie out-maneuvered disaster. She had a proper birthday with the Swiss, the Ecuadorian, and the Hungarians with bubbly and goose liver and laughter all. She will not be deported as yet.


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