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Greek-American Stories: Oh, to Be 32, Again

George had informed those around the table in Dixon’s about the phone call from Areti to his wife. “She was very concerned about Yiannis; that he’s been moping and brooding like he’s lost his best friend. He hardly eats, she says. That’s got her worried.” Dimos put his coffee cup down. He asked, “Did she say what seems to be upsetting him?” George shrugged. “All she knows is that he keeps mentioning that he wished he was 32 again.” Puzzled, John said, “What was so special when Yiannis was 32?”

“Who knows? Areti can’t figure it out and she’s his wife.” Kipreos said, “wasn’t that the year he went to his village, Marousanakislaki?” Dimos paused, thinking. “I think so! But he was already married by then. I remember he went there posing as president of the Marousanakislaki club. Remember that? That’s when the mayor treated him like a celebrity, got treated to free lunches and special accommodations at the only hotel in that village. And, when we learned about it, we reprimanded him for being dishonest.” Casting George a frowning look, he reminded him, “and, you pointed your finger at him more than once.”  George, recalling his behavior, suddenly felt remorse.

John nodded. “That’s right! But, maybe we all were a bit harsh on him.” Kipreos, feeling that Yiannis was treated with less friendship, said, “maybe we should be more understanding. He may be more sensitive than we realize.” Dimos pondered Kipreos’ words. Then, agreed.“Kipreos is right! Yiannis is obviously suffering from melancholia. Everyone gets that way once in a while, I know.” After a few minutes of silence, Dimos said, “listen! When he gets here let’s make it up to him. Let’s make him feel better, be more compassionate and kinder. What do you say?” Everyone agreed.

Then, speaking of the …ah, person, Yiannis sauntered in, got his coffee and sat among them, greeting them with less enthusiasm than usual, his depression obvious. John was first to ask, “Well, Yiannis! Feeling under the weather this sunny afternoon?” Yiannis stirred his coffee as if it was a thick substance. “No, I’m alright. I guess.” Ignoring the dish of donuts was a sure sign that Yiannis was not himself. Dimos had a sudden inspiration. “Listen! Why don’t we all go to my diner and sit around, maybe play cards. What else have we got to do today? What do you say?” All agreed excepting Yiannis. “What about it, Yiannis?” Yiannis nodded his consent, reluctantly. “Then, we can all have lunch there.” Yiannis’ head snapped up, smiling. “Count me in!!” Kipreos placed a comforting hand on Yiannis’ shoulder. “Is there anything bothering you, Yiannis?” Yiannis looked up. “Nothing anyone can do anything about.” “Try us!” said Dimos. Yiannis shrugged and looked down at his now empty coffee cup. “It’s just…just that I wish I was 32 again.” George, feeling regret at his former behavior towards his friend, decided to make amends. “Remember when you said your apartment needs painting and I said I didn’t have time?” Yiannis remembered. “Well, I can do the job this spring if you still want it done. I’ll buy the paint, too. What do you say?” Yiannis’ expression lightened considerably. “You mean it?” George nodded with a reassuring smile. “Sure!” agreed Yiannis, appearing rejuvenated. “What friends you are! Lunch at the diner, afternoon playing cards with you all and my apartment getting painted. Wow! I feel better already.” All their faces expressed relief and happy smiles. Dimos got to his feet. “Well? Let’s get going.” Kipreos told Yiannis, “Try and forget when you were 32. You can be happy at any age.” Yiannis looked at Kipreos, confused, and said, “when I mentioned 32, I didn’t mean my age, I meant my pant size.”

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