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Greek-American Stories: Being on the Ball

All were seated in their places at Dixon’s excepting for Yiannis. George began to report on what had happened to their absent buddy. “Yesterday, Yiannis spent a long time in the emergency clinic in his neighborhood.”  He got everyone’s Attention. “What happened? Is Yiannis alright?” asked John, concerned. With a grin and a shrug, George said, “from what Areti told my wife on the phone, it seems like his grandkids, Timotheos and Yiannis, were playing in the hallway of his apartment with a ball Yiannis had bought them; a little thing, ping pong size. They slammed it back and forth with a paddle when his neighbor came out to complain about the noise. A hard slam wacked the ball and it landed into his neighbor’s mouth and lodged there.” Kipreos was aghast. “Wow! What a thing to happen.”

“Yiannis actually bought something for his grandkids?” remarked John, surprised.

“Well, Yiannis accompanied the neighbor and his wife to the emergency clinic near his house and sat waiting for a long time while they waited for a doctor.” George continued. “Areti said that he came home very late for his lunch.”  Again, John was impressed. “Yiannis late for his lunch? Sounds like he was really concerned for his neighbor. Very obliging of him. I hope they appreciated him.”

“I don’t know much else. But, here he comes now! We’ll hear the rest of it from him.” They greeted Yiannis warmly while he got comfortable in his seat and, coffee in hand he reached out for a donut. John was the first to speak. “Yiannis! George told us about your adventure yesterday in the emergency room. How’s your neighbor today?”

Savoring the donut, sipping his coffee as if he was testing a wine, Yiannis nodded, nonchalantly, and assured him that he’s Ok. Kipreos exclaimed, “what an accident to happen! But, why couldn’t your grandkids play in the house and save you all that trouble?” Yiannis replied, “Areti was afraid they’d break something.” George, in possession of more accurate information, announced, “you were reading your newspaper and their noise bothered you. You chased them out in the hallway.” Yiannis ignored him and continued savoring his donut.

John said, “I think it was darn good of you to accompany him to the emergency clinic, Yiannis, and wait all that time. What a good neighbor you are! Someone else would have just taken him there and left.”

“Not me! I was going to wait as long as it took!” Yiannis pointed out, reaching for a second donut.  “But why did it take so long to take the ball out of his mouth?” Asked Kipreos, ignoring the sprinkled donut to reward Yiannis. Taking a relaxing breath, setting his coffee down, Yiannis explained. “By the time his wife filled out all those papers they handed her, by the time a doctor came, and by the time the nurse brought some kind of equipment, it took a lot of time.”

John responded with an amazed expression. “And, you waited all that time with them. It’s more than anyone would do.” Nodding his agreement, Yiannis said, “That’s right! I could be doing other things in all that time.” George nodded, and looked serious. “Right! You could have been eating your lunch!” Again, Yiannis pretended not to have heard. Dimos, familiar with George’s animosity towards Yiannis, objected. He said, “well, you gotta give him credit this time, George.” Giving an approving slap on Yiannis’ shoulder, Dimos addressed the others, “let it never be said that our Yiannis isn’t generous, patient and thoughtful!” The others agreed. And John, adding his own approving sentiments, said, “I just hope your neighbor appreciates you more now, too!” Even George started thinking that maybe, he was being a little too hard on him. Yiannis shrugged. “I don’t know about that. That’s not important. I wasn’t going anywhere no matter how long it took. After all,” Yiannis paused, giving the sprinkled donut on the plate a furtive look. “It’s my Ball!” 

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