Little Jack lived in Little Hungary in a little Hungarian tenement house. Those who lived in Little Hungary were called little Hungarians even though Little Jack was actually quite big, or should I say, corpulent. Which is why Little Hungary felt a little too tight for him, right there, somewhere around the waist and the chest. Little Jack had breathing problems even though he had a pretty big little Hungarian nose, or should I say, schnozzle. All the little Hungarians lived in little Hungary, but all the others who didn’t were not the big Hungarians, as you would expect. No, they were not Hungarians at all, they were just: the rest. Or so the little Hungarians said. Little Jack’s house stood right on the demarcation line separating little Hungary from the rest , which, as far as the little Hungarians were concerned, was not Hungary. Or in any case, not the real Hungary. And it was no use trying to convince them that Hungary was little enough as it was, so there was no point in trying to make it littler. You could talk to them and talk to them, the little Hungarians would simply not use their little Hungarian ears. They wouldn’t listen. And that was that.
So one day, when no one was looking, Little Jack climbed over the window sill of their ground floor tenement flat, wheezing and grunting dropped to the ground (plop!), walked over to the invisibly red demarcation line, carefully lifted his left foot over the line and then the right foot, and that was that. He had stepped over to the Other Side, even though his Ma and Pa had always warned him not to do so. Korpa közé keveredel, fiam, they told him. Which really meant that if you stuck your hand in a pile of poop your hand was bound to get poopy. It was an old wisdom in Little Hungary that everyone was inclined to respect. But Little Jack took no heed. With his plump little legs he ran as fast as he could to the playground that he could see from the window of their tenement flat in Little Hungary. He watched that playground every day, longing to be there with the Them kids. But he wasn’t allowed, on account of the poop. He ran over to the sandbox and started building something. At first you couldn’t tell what it was, and all the other kids gathered around him trying to guess. They were quite a colorful lot, with all kinds of strange names that Little Jack had never heard before.
“What kind of names are these?” asked Little Jack, pursing his lips.
“Why, they’re Hungarian names, dummy, didn’t you know?” And all the kids laughed real loud.
So Little Jack just went on building that something that he was building. “What is it?”, asked the Them kids. A castle? A fortress? A house of Lords? A bridge over troubled water? A cat in a hat? But Little Jack shook his head at each suggestion. “C’mon, tell us what it is!,” pleaded the kids.
“Can’t you see?,” asked Little Jack. “It’s our tenement building, over on the other side!”
Oh, said the kids, and they all looked at each other. Then, as if on command, they started trampling on the house made of sand. All of Them and Little Jack, together. When they were done, Little Jack looked at his hands. No poop. Just a bit of sand. Then he looked up and saw Ma and Pa waving frantically from their tenement flat window. He couldn’t hear what they were saying but the wind swept a few words towards him. This is what he heard: chicken paprika, goulash, attila, chickosh, chardash. Little Jack smiled and waved back. Feng-shuiiiii!, he shouted to them. It was a word he had just learned.