Greek-American Stories: Huh? 

July 19, 2018
Phyllis “Kiki” Sembos

Lately, I find myself forgetting a lot. I’m told it’s a natural process for people my age. But, it’s most irritating. Before I went food shopping, I made a mental list of what I needed. But, when I got to the super market I forgot what they were.

So, now, I’d write a list before going. I’d get into my car, whizz off, find parking, get my cloth bags and enter the supermarket. Meandering down the aisles, I realize I forgot my list. So, I go down each aisle hoping to recall what it was I came for. Was it bread? Noooo, but laundry detergent is on sale. So, is butter!

That too goes into my cart. After an hour, I go to the cashier, pay and go home. Inside the kitchen, on the counter is the list I forgot. None of what I got was on that list. In fact, I, now, am the owner of four economy sized gallons of laundry detergent and six pounds of butter and no bread. As I placed everything where they belonged, the phone rings.

The voice on the other end is cheerful. “Who?” I ask the receiver. “Dottie…who?” After a few seconds, lucidity returns, the name and face became familiar. “Oh, yeah, Dottie. Hi!” I know only one Dottie, and we go back to the Stone Age. Dottie asks, “How’s Tommy?” I ask, “Tommy, who?”  “What’s his name…your husband,” asked an impatient Dottie. “My husband’s name is Bill, Debbie! How could you forget?” We laughed.  But, when we hung up, I wondered if the condition was contagious. Somehow, I felt a little better that my condition was shared.  

That same afternoon I took my library books to the library so I can get others. A rainy week-end was forecast – wasn’t it? The librarian took my books, looked into the computer. “Oh, I’m sorry, but you owe $3.25 late charges.” 

I was surprised.  “I do? How did that happen?” I shrug, smile and tell her, “Time flies, doesn’t it?” I paid up and left. Back in my car, I find a cleaner’s receipt. Damn! How long has it been in the coffee slot of my car? And, what’s it for? Then, by a force of heavenly intervention, I remembered bringing Bill’s shirts to the cleaners and, as I sped to the cleaners, I begged whatever God is now in office, to please not let the cleaner, Mr. Stellas, tell me they’d been discarded because I hadn’t claimed them in months.

But, Mr. Stellas, all smiles, tells me he was about to telephone me to remind me about the six shirts I’d brought in before the summer began. It’s only July, not ancient history. A little embarrassed, I made the lame excuse that I’d been on vacation. All I needed was that he’d seen me in church during that time.  I’d tell him that it was my brain on vacation, not me, physically. I paid for the shirts and left. From my rear view mirror I saw Mr. Stellas waving from his doorway. I waved back.  

Finally home, I looked for a map in the desk. Now, where are my glasses? Upstairs? No! By the TV? No!  In the basement? Oh! Here they are, between the cushions of the sofa. I must remember to get another pair, in case. I have four pairs of sun glasses, in case. The map was a map of the Adirondacks Mountains, where Bill and I had gone on vacation three years ago. When Bill came home from where he’d been with friends, he asked about his shirts that I’d taken to the cleaners a while ago. “Are they back from the cleaners yet?” He asked.

I smiled and told him they’re ..ah… (Bleep!) …at the cleaners. That’s why Mr. Stellas waved at me. But, hey!  They’re paid for. Now what do I tell Bill? That we have visitation rights for the shirts? Thinking fast, I told him, “Know what? Let’s go for a nice drive and on the way, we’ll pick up your shirts. It’s such a nice afternoon, Bill.” Thankfully, Bill agreed, saying, “Let’s eat at that Greek restaurant on…on…ahhh,.. where ‘s that place we ate at a few months ago?” I smiled, proud I remembered the name. “You mean, Barba Nikos’ Taverna?” “That’s it!” Bill brightened. “Good thing you can remember. I’ve forgotten” Yeah! Now, where th’ hell is that place? 


The latest postponement of a White House visit by Greece’s Premier – for a second time this year – in conjunction with the announcement of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s trip to Washington, DC in May is certainly not auspicious.

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