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Greek-American Stories: A Hobby for Yiannis

A perturbed Yiannis informed his buddies at Dixon’s that his wife, Areti, has restricted his food. “Sez I’m too heavy, that my health will deteriorate if I don’t lose weight.” Dimos nodded. “It shows she cares for you, Yiannis.” Looking glum, he responded, “maybe, but home is no fun”, he said, eyeing the dish of donuts. Meanwhile, Kipreos, slowly pulled the donut dish away from Yiannis’ vicinity. “Look at your coffee, for instance,” John pointed at his coffee cup. “Full of cream and sugar. Enough ingredients for a pudding.” George advised, “I say, get on some lose clothes and go to a gym.” Pulling a face, Yiannis told him, “If I had loose clothes, I wouldn’t need a gym.”

Dimos offered, “well, maybe you should walk more, like to the supermarket or post office.”  Grinning, he added, “or, maybe walk from your house to mine. That’s about fifteen miles, I think.”

No response. But Kipreos, sympathetic towards Areti, said, “if you’d diet Areti wouldn’t’ need to cook or shop so much. That’s being more economical. She works all day. So, she’d have less kitchen work.”  Yiannis eyed the donuts but refrained.

“What about getting a hobby of some kind?” Dimos suggested. “It would take your mind off eating for a while. You’d be doing something useful – something that will occupy your mind.” Yiannis, shrugging, asked, “What kind of hobby?” The four fell into thought. Brightening, Kipreos told him about a hobby store just a couple of blocks from Dixon’s. “The place is full of stuff you can choose from. Good stuff, too! You’ll be sure to find something there to make every day interesting, I think.”

Yiannis looked up, the idea began taking hold. Yeah! If he had a hobby, it’ll look like he’s doing something with his time and dinnertime will be a more rewarding event. “OK. I’ll go by and take a look.”

The following Sunday, Yiannis sauntered in, black coffee in hand, as they all waited to hear if he had visited the hobby store. “Well?” Dimos began, eyeing Yiannis’ black coffee as a good sign. “You did visit the hobby store, I know. Find something that caught your interest, Yiannis?” Leaning back, he informed, “fascinating place. That store has so many ideas for hobbies. A very interesting place! There’s stamp collecting, coin collecting, plane construction, chemistry sets…”  Impatient George asked, “did anything grab YOUR interest, finally, Yiannis?” Yiannis continued, “there’s rug weaving, oil painting, even classes that teach some of those hobbies and…” John grinned. “Bird watching should get you walking, maybe.”

Setting down his cup, he said, “I’ve decided to be practical. I’m drinking my coffee black, no more waffles or French toast for breakfast, and no ice cream for dessert after dinner. I’m just going to watch my diet from now on. But, what caught my interest in that store was that they have lessons on Saturday that I’ve registered for. I can’t wait for the classes to begin.”

Their attention arrested, they were all very anxious to hear what he’d signed up for. Yiannis waved his hands for their attention. “Hold on, guys! Yes, it could be the start of a career for me. Who knows? Maybe, I’ll be famous when I display my techniques.”

“Techniques?” asked John with humor. “You don’t mean you’re thinking of going into research for anything that’ll benefit mankind, do you?” Taking his time responding, Yiannis replied, “I don’t know if I’ll benefit mankind, but, it sure can benefit me and Areti. I’ve already bought my gloves and apron.”

Their curiosity was piqued. George narrowed his eyes, tilted his head and demanded to know what exactly did he choose doing. Kipreos asked, “does it have to do with animals, vegetables, or minerals?” Yiannis nodded. “All three!”  Grinning, John offered a guess. “You’re becoming a veterinarian?” Losing his patience, Dimos demanded, please explain what hobby includes animals, vegetables, and minerals?” Yiannis continued with determined patience.  “Mostly, I will enjoy the occupation. I can’t wait!” Raising his voice, George demanded, “In a few words, Yiannis, will you please tell us WHAT!” Looking smug, waving out his arms, Yiannis announced, “Chef!”

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This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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