Greek-American Stories: Hopes

March 16, 2019
Phyllis “Kiki” Sembos

Remember that story about the Greek woman named Pandora who was warned not to open a box under her care? Well, being a woman, curiosity gets at us as it did Pandora. I can sympathize with her.
So, Pandora opened that box and out comes horrible things that soon engulf the world, like crime, diseases, misery, murder, a mother-in-law from hell, a lot of things. But, curiosity is natural, isn’t it?

In the story, Pandora finds one thing at the bottom of the box. HOPE!  It saved the world. That’s what we want, what we strive for.

For instance, that TV commercial that promises fabulous riches investing in real estate if we’d only listen to this glamorous woman wearing an eight hundred dollar Gucci blouse. How can you not listen to Luella Shyster, sitting in a lounge chair beside an Olympic sized swimming pool, drinking champagne lemonade by her 45-room mansion with a garage that houses five Ferraris, for heaven’s sake? She tells us she did it, not by marrying Donald trump or Onassis’ cousin but by investing in real estate. She wrote a book, too. It’s called, Investing in Real Estate and she says you don’t even need money to begin. Then, she introduced a guest that listened to her advice.

I was watching him on late TV telling how his life was before taking Luella’s advice. “My name is Michael Katergaris. I came from Greece with only eight dollars in my pocket. Now, I live like a king. I own five houses, and I did it by reading Luella’s book.”

I may be dense, but I’ve never bought anything without money, not without expecting to be arrested. Donald Trump, Frank Lloyd Wright and John. D. Rockefeller had big bucks before they started their empires. They didn’t read Luella’s book, either. What she’s really selling is HOPE!

Then, there’s that guy on TV that sells a board that places you upside down in order to cure your back pain and/or hunch. We never see the results. And, those watching that advertisement wonder if it really works.

Hope is the seller. The demonstrator doesn’t tell you how long before you see results or show you someone who had been almost kissing the pavement until he bought the contraption.

Now, however, he’s so straightened up and upright, he can’t seem to be able to pick up the wallet he dropped. Well, he should have known that everything has a downside.  He should think ahead. Suppose he remains upside down and can’t get up. He could be that way until the rent is due.

We HOPE what is seen on TV is honest, like those hair growers. They show men and women with bare spots and then they get the treatment advertised. This time they’re hairy.  My brother got a bottle of some kind of serum. Cost him a few ‘Gees’. My bald father told him to be careful that none of the stuff falls on his nose.

Another gimmick is the spray paint machine. You hold a nozzle attached to a container, about a half-gallon that’s attached to a motor. You press the button and paint sprays nicely up and down walls, over moldings, base boards, anywhere. What he never demonstrates is when you have to paint the ceiling. Of course, the container doesn’t hold much paint. So, you have to refill it again, and again. The guy made an invention, paid for patent and is now HOPING to make it big.

By the way, Michael Katergaris, the real estate mogul, having bought a five story tenement in the south Bronx has been arrested for being a slum lord with 53 violations against him. To add to the bull-dinkies he spouted, the five apartment buildings was a fat lie too. Luella Shyster paid him to say it, HOPING it sells more books. The striking tenants HOPE to win their litigation. The guy at the race track lives on HOPE, as do all gamblers. Kids HOPE they pass their exams, the sick have high HOPES of getting well, and I am forever HOPING a publisher with guts (that’s what he’d need with my explosive material) will publish one of my books. HOPE is a very industrious emotion. We live for it, work for it, wish for it.  In the right direction, it’s a wonderful emotion. I wonder if Pandora’s hopes ever came true.


Not having any royalty, apart from the deposed King Psycho, most Americans could only watch with befuddlement at the sight of the Mute North Koreans scene in the United Kingdom where most of the country stood silent and waited in line up to a day to view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II.

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