Greek-American Stories: Nailing Yiannis

January 5, 2020
Phyllis “Kiki” Sembos

George told the guys around the table in Dixon’s that Areti called his wife complaining about Yiannis. “What’s up with him now?” asked John. “She was complaining that Yiannis refuses to trim his toe nails. He has to get shoes a half size longer because of them.” They laughed. But George told them it was a serious problem because all his socks have holes in them because of those nails.  “So, what does she expect us to do?” asked Dimos, watching the door for his entrance. “I’m not volunteering to trim them,” Kipreos said shaking his head vigorously. George shrugged. “I don’t know what we can do but to make that call means she has to be very concerned. Maybe, we can think of something.”

“I have a very good podiatric guy who does my feet. You know I have to stand up long hours at the hotel and my feet suffer,” Kipreos offered. “The best part is that he makes house calls. Maybe, you can call him.”  Dimos said, “that’s a good idea. But, how can we manage that?”

“If he makes house calls we can arrange to invite Yiannis to my house,” suggested John.  George said, “according to Areti he refuses to see any doctor. He was really annoyed at her for the suggestion.” John’s face lit up. “Listen! I know a sure way. He loves Penelopi’s Karidopita cake. I’ll tell him to come for coffee and cake at my house, say Saturday.  When he comes in, we’ll wrestle him into a chair and have the doctor do his job.” George, shaking his head, said, “Areti says a doctor would have to use a chain saw, they’re that bad.”

“All the more reason to get it done. The sooner the better, I say.” All agreed, Dimos made the phone call from the cafeteria wall phone and it was all settled as Yiannis sauntered into Dixon’s, coffee in hand.

He settled in his seat and asked, “what’s new?” After some casual conversation, John made general mention that Penelopi was baking a Karidopita cake on Saturday. “She’d like to have company to share it.” He avoided making face contact with Yiannis. Kipreos said, “I’ll come.” The others joined in. Yiannis’ head snapped up. “It just happens that I happen to have an appointment in that area on Saturday. I’ll come, too! But, it’ll have to be about one in the afternoon. I don’t want to be late for my appointment that’s at two o’ clock” John assured him that was a good time.

Saturday found them all at John’s house; the heavenly scent of Karidopita floated in from the dining room table while Penelopi made coffee from kitchen. The doctor, dressed in a white jacket, prepared his equipment, watching as the others were at the door, waiting for the reluctant patient. It was all very strange, he thought, “but hey! They’re paying me double, and I get cake and coffee, too.”

Dimos said, “Listen! I doubt he’d make a fuss if we tell him we’re paying for the whole thing.” They agreed. George said, “And, we’re doing it for Areti.” Yiannis came to the door and rang the bell. John invited him in. He looked around and saw them all huddled by the entrance. “What’s going on?” he asked. They held him fast and led him into the room where the doctor awaited. “What’s all this?” demanded Yiannis, pulling away. Annoyed, he tried to escape as they wrestled him into the chair. “Wait! You can’t do this! Listen!” he tried to reason, attempting to struggle up.  But they managed to wrestle off his shoes and socks and was soon being tended to in the chair by the doctor who began working on the toes that were, indeed, in great need of treatment. Yiannis, raising a dark brow, told them, “I’m not paying for this!  This is all your doing, remember.”

Dimos informed him that it’s all taken care of. “It’s for your sake but, mostly, for Areti’s sake who is very worried about you.” Yiannis looked around. Then, said, ‘I’ll forgive you all if you tell me there’s really Karidopita and coffee waiting.” Just then, Penelopi appeared, smiling and assuring him coffee and cake is waiting for all of them. Yiannis, relaxing, a big grin on his face, told them, “Good! And, you’re sure this is all paid for?” They assured him he had no financial obligation. That’s when he told them, “Then, I’ll just cancel my two o’clock appointment just down the block, with the podiatrist.”


My fellow TNH colleague Theodore Kalmoukos often uses the word “tragicomedy” to describe phenomena that are pitiful and laughable all at once.

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