“So I open the door and I see these two guys standing there with…”
“With like a big bottle?” – correctly guessed my companion.
I was recounting a somewhat odd episode that had occurred just a couple of weeks earlier
to a Romanian acquaintance. We were sitting in a tiny room of a Bucharest café/bar
which the acquaintance said she had used to frequent “in her student years.” Located just off the Bulevardul Nicolae Bălcescu (a major avenue), it would have nevertheless been impossible to find without a local, as it was hidden behind two dingy archways, an unmarked door that I would have thought opened to a dumpster room, and then a badly lit stairwell to boot. My companion's face was barely visible behind the thick smoke filling the room.
“Yes! How did you know?”
As soon as I said that I knew the answer myself: She knew because it was one of the oldest scams in the book. In Bucharest, as well as everywhere else. For a moment, I felt the shameful sting of my stupidity more acutely, even though nothing much had really happened in this particular case, as you will soon hear (nothing that I could detect, anyway). But allow me recount the whole episode.