A young woman comes to wipe my table. Her name tag bears a common Hungarian surname. Guessing she is an H-2B (that is, a bearer of a seasonal-guest-worker visa), I offer her a greeting in that language, of which I know a few tourist’s phrases. She is delighted, and favors me with a stream of animated Hungarian. Of course I can’t understand a word.Fantastic. The end of the essay is a treat, too. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.
We switch to English. She is indeed an H-2B, a student from Transylvania. I passed through that region once, a couple of decades before Miss Nagy was born, and we trade Transylvanian reminiscences till she is called back to the serving counter. For a while I sit there sunk in memories of my Wanderjahre while savoring the glow that a man — any man, even an incurably married old guy — gets from the attentions, however brief and accidental, of a pretty young woman. Do they have skiing in the Carpathians nowadays, I wonder? I forget to ask. Back to my book.