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Few Semiconductors, Fewer Substitute Teachers, and a Gray Lady’s Disappearing Act

March 9, 2022

So far, my first winter of (partial) discontent on the wild frontier can be likened to the name of Grateful Dead’s album: ‘What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been.’ Good news! If the Father of Meteorology, Punxsutawney Phil, is trustworthy, we’re not out of the woods.

The darkest month of the year arrived bearing a harsh reminder that the pandemic game plan was highlighted by its refusal to vacate the premises. On a happier note, it also featured a searing, Cliff Notes-style tutorial about the Greek alphabet. Shortly after the ball dropped in Times Square, we awoke with a kaleidoscope of symptoms. They ran the spectrum from migraine-intense headaches to respiratory concerns and chills. Beware of Greeks bearing `gifts’ that keep on giving.

The government is still wondering where it came from. If you’re following the prevailing opinion, it started in a lab in Wuhan. Fun fact: When I first heard of the place, I imagined it to be a colorfully warm and whimsical village draped in the clouds of Mount Everest. Then I googled it. Turns out, this one-rickshaw hamlet I thought existed has more than 11 million people – 37.5% more than New York City!

Numbers don’t lie. Like the rest of us, I’m determined to find out how I got it and how terms like ‘transmissible,’ ‘Pfizer’ and ‘virtual learning’ have seeped into the culture.

All that aside for the moment, I suspect I picked it up in either one of two places, one of which was the dentist chair during a marathon, three-hour session on Jan. 3. There I sat, hopeless and mask less, trap door opened like a large-mouth bass. The prosthodontist yammered on about  this  eatery, Lambert’s, in his hometown in the Missouri Ozarks and how the custom is to toss loaves of bread at customers.

The other noun of interest is the ‘steakhouse’ where we dined. We came by on Monday, figuring things would be slow. Nope. The booths and tables brimmed with patrons. They all munched on appetizers of deep-fried onion rings as country music star George Strait crooned and strummed about how whiskey and women are inscrutably linked.

“You were in a super spreader,” my brother, Dr. Dean Glaros, reminded me, in a tone at once scolding and judgmental. If I was a bigger dirt-bag sibling than I already am, I could have, ping-pong style, called him out for resorting to the use of such a tired, hackneyed phrase. “Yeah, but we had a $5 off coupon,” I blathered. Plus, no one bothered to let us know our visit marked the close of a three-day weekend.

Along with COVID, there were the persistent attempts to reach out to us, like hungry real estate agents trying to stir up business in the arctic-cold. Looked at on balance, I decided that this was even more bizarre than social distancing. I will go out on a limb and say it was almost as grotesque as the gas lines created during the odd-even days during the Carter administration. Sorry, not quite. Carter once claimed he was attacked by a rabbit that hopped into his boat, leaving him no option but to slap it silly with a paddle.

Here’s how it went down. Before getting sick, we had focused much of our time on finding an affordable condo that we could buy and rent out. Many of our waking hours were spent scouting listings up and down the Front Range. But with our energy levels plummeting to more dangerous levels than Whoopi Goldberg’s definition of ‘race’, we imposed radio silence. It sparked a flurry of texts, all from real estate agents we had contacted.

One agent: “Sorry that you guys have COVID. What’s your address? I want to come by with Greek food. Um, you are Greek, right?”

The third one: This agent has perfect hearing. My wife, always well meaning, likes to nag at me when I wear a certain pair of sweatpants that tend to wrap around my ankles. We were still 30 feet from the front door of the condo when she scolded me to “pull down your pants! Take pride in your appearance.” That somehow wafted into the ether and then the ears of this salesperson. We were busted. “Haha! That’s the first time in 17 years of doing this job that I’ve heard that one! You guys are hilarious! Italian? No, Jewish?” The awkwardness lingered. As we struggled to find our equilibrium, she took a look at my wife and cried, “hello, beautiful!” After the tour, she advised we don’t buy anything “until the Holy Spirit speaks.”

Finally, there’s the epic drama involving home delivery of my New York Times. Where is it? Maybe we should simply call it the ‘Never on Sunday to Hellenes’ policy and not cast aspersions.


As we mark more than 200 years since the beginning of the struggle for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, it's important to remember that the significance of this event transcends national boundaries.

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