At the end of Chapter 34, in a scene at the Nyugati train station, Turgut and Ergün, two amiable Turkish criminals running a Budapest chop shop, are bewildered and much impressed when they set eyes on lovely Jasmin, a policewoman and Mark’s dinner date.
“Only rich doctors can attract women like that,” says Ergün, unaware that Mark is no ladies man and that his date came about by happenstance. Turgut agrees and says, “The rest of us, we get the scraps.”
This tiny detail with the pun on scraps emerged from a troubled period in my own life. Two decades ago, while reeling from a disastrous, contentious divorce, I attended a large dinner party by myself. There I sat at a table with two older doctors, both married, both notorious womanizers. Wishing that they too could shed their wives but unable to do so, they were envious of my newly found freedom from marriage.
After a few drinks they took me aside and lustfully mused about the gorgeous women who must be throwing themselves at me. I could not explain to them the hellish life I was living, struggling with contentious custody disputes over my three small children. I had no desire to play the field.
They carried on in a crescendo of bawdy fantasies of my conquests and escapades. It ended with one of them pleading with me, “Moris, save us the scraps!”
The other agreed and echoed, “Yeah Moris, save us the scraps!”
That phrase has reverberated in my mind ever since. Their clueless debauchery gradually turned into a funny anecdote that I have often told to those who knew the two. As I was writing the scene and imagining Turgut and Ergün, initially puzzled by Mark’s intention to date a policewoman, then dazzled by the sight of Jasmin, Save us the scraps, popped into my