Greek-American Stories: Coffee Breaks

Dixon’s saw complete attendance of the five friends that Sunday. What was different was that Yiannis was doing most of the talking. Everyone was listening while he tried to impress on them that he knew facts unknown to the general public. “Did you guys know that the only animal that can’t jump is the elephant?” Looking at him surprised, they all acknowledged that they didn’t know. “Interesting,” said John, continuing to sip his coffee. “Where did you learn that?” asked Dimos not very impressed but surprised that Yiannis showed an interest in animals. “People leave magazines lying around in offices. I have one here.” He displayed a well thumbed second rate magazine. Then continued. “And, cows make best friends among themselves, rubbing against each other, looking out for them…”

Dimos, not wanting his disinterest to become obvious remarked, “No kidding?” But, seeing he’d made an impression, Yiannis added, “And, it was discovered that they gave more milk when they heard music.”

George, amused but unimpressed at the guru of useless information said, “Is there anything we should know about goats?” Yiannis thought for a long moment. Then, slowly, shook his head. “Good! Now, lets’ talk about the new supermarket that’s being…” He didn’t get very far. Yiannis raised his hand. “Wait a minute! Did you know that goats have stomachs that can digest even wooden articles?” Dimos nodded politely and then waited for more of George’s information on the new supermarket. But, Kipreos broke into the conversation with some more facts on goats. “I read that in Ethiopia, herders of goats discovered goats acting differently after eating certain plants and watched as goats danced after eating the beans. Then, they learned that those beans were really coffee beans. That’s what started a big interest in them.” He looked around to observe their reactions. He received attention only from Yiannis who asked where he learned that. “I read it in a magazine I picked up in the hotel lobby.” Pleased that someone was interested enough in what he had to say, Kipreos continued. “Then, studies were done to discover the effects of coffee on humans.”

“Drinking coffee can make us better dancers?” remarked John reaching for a donut. After a few seconds of hesitation, he turned towards George. “About that supermarket.” George began but was again interrupted by Yiannis. “That’s right Kipreos! Later, it was discovered that coffee is good for the liver and can help prevent dementia.”

“Where, exactly, is that super market going to be located, George?” asked Dimos, hoping to redirect the conversation.  Once more Yiannis recalled information that he was sure would really impress them. “Ahh, and did you know that in Mecca coffee was forbidden?”  Kipreos’s head perked up. He asked, “Why is that Yiannis?” Leaning forward Yiannis felt satisfaction that he finally had an audience. “Well, coffee contained an acid that awakened the mind and that caffeine stimulated idleness and radical thinking. The head Arabs didn’t want either of that. So, it was banned.”

George, annoyed that the subject of the supermarket was again on hold said, “Maybe, there’s your problem.  If you drank less coffee, you’d be less idle and can apply for a job at the new supermarket that’s opening up, Yiannis.”

Face tightened, Yiannis retaliated. “Maybe, if you drank less coffee, you’d be less radical in your thinking, George!” Watching as the conversation was escalating into something less than friendly; Dimos proposed treating everyone to another round of coffee.  “My treat! Hey! We gotta take care of our livers, right?” Kipreos said, “And, I don’t want to get dementia and forget my keys anywhere.”  George grinned. “Or, Yiannis forget where to get those magazines, either.” Pleased, Dimos said, “We members of the ‘Idle’ club propose Yiannis as the well informed president.”

“YEAH!”  They announced laughing. Feeling that he was finally appreciated, Yiannis beamed. Friendliness resurfaced, the new round of coffees and donuts were met with unanimous thanks. After a few sips, John asked George for more facts on the new supermarket. About to offer details, Yiannis’s head came up. “Did any of you know that Times Square was once called Longacre Square?”


Frederick the Great’s 18th century dictum sums up America’s current geopolitical dilemma neatly.

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