I dragged my mate Aussie Dave (a giant of a man from Sydney) to share in the awfulness of select­ing token offerings for slack-jawed parents and begging nephews and nieces back home.
I considered how insulting a cane with a cycle bell, whiskey flask and various attachments might be to my father, when they approached…

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“Szia! Jó napot kivánok!” a little brunette said, all smiling and friendly, looking straight into my eyes with her baby blues. Caught off-guard, I stammered, “Uhhh…”

“Oh, English!” she said. “Good afternoon!”

“Good afternoon,” I said, smiling back, watching her eyes narrow as she shifted her hip a bit. She tells me she’s from some village I didn’t quite catch, and wants to know where Szent Istvan Bazilika is in a very practiced tone. “We wish to see it.”

She’s shorter and more confident than her friend, and all curves in the right places. The other is long, lean, blonde and green eyed, tanned perfectly and wielding her cigarette like a meastro’s baton. Anita and Krisztina, they called themselves.

Ah yes, the infamous Budapest ‘Drink girls’.

Their job is luring the stupid, drunk and unwary tourists into bars where a few drinks will cost them upwards of a thousand Euros, collected by steroid- addled, hostage-taking thugs at the nearest ATM. We were not to be such prey.

I perused her map and played along, pretending to 'figure out' streets and directions. “Maybe we can go together!” she said, smiling toothily, hungrily. The script was being perfectly played out. The blond nodded, “Yeah! Yeah! We all go, okay?”.

I give Dave the ‘Look’ and he shrugged. I smiled back at the shark on my arm and nodded, “Let's!”

I slow-walked every god-awful tourist restaurant on the utca, checking menus, discussing the meals on offer while looking for the priciest place. We took pictures of everything and the girls, too. After two hours of pointlessness, Anita sighed, annoyed. “I am so thirsty,” she said. “Maybe we should go have a drink at the bar back there?” Krisztina nodded, looking in Aussie's eyes. “Please?”

It was obviously their employer's. Black glass on the outside, entry set back and no outside seating. “Well, after a nice meal we will…” I said. “Can we treat you ladies to a nice dinner?” I dropped the name of a pricey hotel restaurant nearby and asked them if they liked caviar. They nodded eagerly in agreement.

We were seated and I ordered the most expensive appetizers, entrees, addon sauces and garnishes from the menu. The girls we’re excited when the meal came and we dove in. Before the main dish was completed, I kicked Dave on the shin.

“Excuse me ladies…” I said to the smiling Anita “I need to use the toilet.” As I stood, Dave piped in “Me too…” I took Anita’s hand in mine and kissed it before bowing a bit and standing aside. Grabbing the glass of expensive red, I raised my glass. “To new friends,” I toasted. The girls clinked glasses back, all smiles.

Anita looked smug as Aussie D and I excused ourselves and headed in the direction of the WC, neatly slipping out the lobby exit onto the street and away into the night, leaving them to enjoy their just desserts with a taste of their own medicine…

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