The Refugee Crisis and My Husband’s Sock Basket

We have two sock baskets. One for white socks, one for black socks. All the white socks belong to my husband Alex. Most of the black socks are my son’s.  This system has worked perfectly for years. Until yesterday. Alex appeared in the living room with his sock basket. It was nearly full.

“Half these socks aren’t even mine,” he said and dropped the basket.  His are plain white Haynes calf high.He started sorting the socks.  There were “his socks”, socks with holes that got thrown out and the “others.”

The “other socks” were the white socks with pink or blue around the top. White socks that were ankle high and made by New Balance or Polo, tube socks and girl socks.  “They don’t belong in here with mine, they’re different.  This basket is just for my socks.”

“You’re being super prejudiced .” I teased him.

“Yes I am, I only like my kind of socks. Sorry.” But he wasn’t really.

When he finished there were three piles. His, those to throw away and “the others.”

He took his basket and left the room. And I was left wondering what to do with the poor “others”. Most of them were still perfectly good socks. First, I matched up the ones I could, there would be a home for them.  But what about the rest?

They’d been kicked out of their home and now had no where to go. No one would accept them simply because they were “different.” I felt guilty throwing them away, but boy, there were a lot of them. They were refugee socks, without a basket.

This behavior doesn’t surprise me from Alex. He’s Hungarian and Hungary typically doesn’t want refugees. They build concentration camps, surrounded with barbed wire and dogs. Refugees can stay there or leave the country and go somewhere more welcoming. Hungarians are all about taking care of Hungarians. Screw the rest of the world. They forget in the late 1950’s they were the refugees, running from Russia and seeking asylam in America.  Alex is a very good man but that sentiment runs deep in his blood.

So, what do I do with the remaining 27 refugee socks? I’ll probably end up throwing them away because there’s no basket or drawer that wants them. They are the lost “other socks.”

As President Trump said last week. “Who knew this stuff was so complicated.”

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1000 Gallons of Schnapps

This isn’t really my story to teschnappsll but Alex’s family  doesn’t blabber on like McDaniel’s so I love telling it for them.

Alex’ grandmother or Nagymamma (pronounced “nudge mummy”) was Hungarian. She spoke a little English and was one of the toughest old ladies on the planet. She was also blunt as a 2×4. My grandmother’s were not rough or tough or blunt.They were elegant, quirky and lovely…they were Southern.

If Alex, the kids and I arrived at her house for Sunday dinner fifteen minutes late, the doors would be locked, the lights turned off. If you were late you didn’t eat.

She lived through the Nazi  and both Russian invasions of Hungary.  And boy did she hate the Russians, even more than the Nazis. One time she told me, “A Nazi will steal your wedding ring, a Russian will cut off you finger to steal your wedding ring.”

In 1956 when the Soviets invaded Hungary, yet again, Nagymamma was prepared.  Unfortunately, Hungary is right in the middle of a beautiful but troubled neighborhood and has been invaded by countless forces for thousands of years.  So Nagymammy knew exactly what soldiers did when they occupied a foreign country, because she’d lived through it so many times. The soldiers march in, drink all the liquor and destroy what they don’t’ drink.  As a result the locals don’t have any alcohol thus making the invasion and occupation even more miserable.

Nagymammy  felt certain the Russians were getting ready to invade her home land months earlier so she came up with a plan. Alex’s grandmother was known for her homemade Schnapps. Well, she called it schnapps but it was hardcore moonshine with a little bit of fruit.  The stuff was crystal clear and brutal.  A  single shot could clear your sinus cavity for a week or render you speechless for the day. A little bit could cure most diseases, three shots and you’d go blind.

Nagymammy cooked up over fifty  hectoliters of schnapps (that’s over 1,000 gallons), bottled it then sent her husband into the field with a post hold digger. Together they buried all those bottles then waited for the Russian soldiers to do what they always did. Drink and destroy.

Several months latter her region of Hungary was bone dry and sick of sobriety. That’s when Nagymammy and her husband went back out into the field and started digging.

Over the course of a year that tough old woman was able to dig up and sell enough of her schnapps to get her family out of Hungary and to America. The Hampo family’s American Dream was fueled by some wicked schnapps and a remarkable woman who was tougher than the Russians.