Greek-American Stories: Diets Strike Again

On an especially hot summer day, the guys seated at their table at Dixon’s weren’t very cheery. John looked across at Yiannis and remarked, “you must feel the heat more than any of us. The sprinkled donut is still on the plate.” Yiannis said, “well, maybe. Areti has me on a summer diet.” Dimos asked, “what’s a summer diet?” Stirring his iced coffee, Yiannis told him, “I have to eat more fruit and less meat. She buys piles of peaches and apples and watermelon. I was almost finished with all of them before I went to the doctor.” John asked why she decided on that diet. “She told me that Dr. Arostakis suggested it when we were there last week.”

“You saw Dr. Arostakis last week?” asked Dimos. “Was he helpful?” Yiannis looked doubtful but replied, “well, he wasn’t so bad. But, his nurse wasn’t too helpful.” Everyone knew the aide and looked across at Yiannis with curiosity. John said, “what do you mean? She’s a very accurate and careful person and is a huge help to Dr. Arostakis. How could you find her not being helpful?” Waving his hands out, Yiannis explained that when she took his weight, which was 158, he asked that she be helpful and erase the last eight pounds. ”So, when the doctor called me into his office, he said, he had very good news.” Dimos smiled. “He told you that you lost eight pounds.” “Actually,” began Yiannis, “I lost a lot more than that. Arostakis smiled and told me, ‘well, Yiannis. I see the diet is working very well. You now weigh 15 pounds.” Realizing what the nurse had done, they all looked up and laughed. “She didn’t understand,” shrugged Yiannis, still eying the donut. “158 pounds isn’t so heavy, I don’t think, Yiannis,” George told him. Yiannis blinked. “No?” Waving his hand about, George continued, “not if you were seven feet tall.” Observing Yiannis’ eye’s aim, he suggested, “look! You really want that donut. Pick it up and just peel off the outer rim.” Looking curious, Yiannis said, “outer rim? There’s nothing but the hole.” Grinning, George said, “right!” Ignoring his bland humor, Yiannis admitted he’d eaten enough apples in one day to please a farmer. “How many apples, Yiannis?” asked Kipreos. “Six!” answered Yiannis, explaining, “That’s how many apples were in that apple pie Areti made.”

Kipreos offered, “you should sign up at a gym, Yiannis. I go once a week. I stand at work so long that I can’t wait to move around and feel better and that’s what I do in the gym.” Yiannis pictured himself running around the perimeter of the gym, on a bicycle at full speed and picking up weights. His heartbeat began reflecting his visions. Kipreos said, “I’ll sign you up if you want. We can go together. Do you have loose clothing?” Shaking his head, Yiannis complained, “if I had loose clothing I wouldn’t need to go to a gym.” Dimos, tiring of the talk on diets and Yiannis refusing to cooperate at adhering to a helpful diet, said, “I think I have an excellent idea, Yiannis. Instead of taking the train home today, why don’t you walk home?  I’d say it’ll be about one hour’s walk – maybe, a little more. But, it’ll surely make a difference in your weight, eventually.” Not wishing to refuse Dimos’ helpful advice, Yiannis thought about it. But not for long. Then, finishing his iced coffee, said, “that’s a very good idea, Dimos. I’d done it once when the subways were on strike, I remember. So, that’s what I’ll do … starting in winter. It’s too hot today!”

George, more adept at Yiannis’ thought process, said, “I’ve got a better idea, Yiannis. Today, it’s too hot. In winter it’ll be too cold. Why not wait until the next subway strike? You’d be losing weight and saving carfare money too!” Yiannis’ head came up, his thoughts making careful calculations. That’s right! Setting down his cup, he nodded and said, “That’s it! I’ll be patronizing the strikers when that happens, too!” Pleased that he had exposed Yiannis’ true monetary sentiments, George slapped Yiannis’ shoulder. “So, all you have to do is wait for the next subway strike. Agreed?” Relaxing and happy with George’s idea, Yiannis readily told him, “Agreed!”


Finishing off a spectacular lunch at Hellas restaurant in Tarpon Springs, I strolled deep into the surrounding neighborhood to get an updated flavor for the renowned city of 25,000 inhabitants along Florida's Gulf Coast.

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