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Greek-American Stories: Staying Put!

I haven’t been to Greece in a long time, but, I remember that when preparing for a trip things didn’t go as smoothly as they do now. Or, so I am informed. For instance, I recall standing in line to get my valise weighed and checked. The woman employee told me that my luggage is too heavy by two pounds. I’d open it and wonder what I could take out that I won’t need. I didn’t even know how much stuff totalled two pounds. I took out my tooth paste, three pair of socks and a sweater. Then, I wondered what I should do with them. The woman employee, smiled. “Put them in your overnight case.” Now, I’ve always been math-impaired but transferring my stuff from the suitcase to the overnight bag would really solve the weight problem? I noticed a 300 lb. man behind me. That’s when I got really annoyed. “He’s OK to go on the plane and my socks could send us crashing into the Atlantic?” She just smiled and said, “next!”

I usually chose a seat by the window so that I could keep an eye on the wings. But, it didn’t really matter when the movie shown was, ‘Last Plane to Paris’. And, being a foreign film, I had to concentrate on the subtitles.
In Greece, I stood waiting for a taxi to take me to my cousin’s house and noticed cars the size of micro waves swerving down the street like it was NASCAR. But I didn’t wait long. Taxis were lined up from the airport to the Albanian border. I recalled reading about how many car accidents occur in Athens. Cars whizzed by at 280 miles an hour and hit people – and, I’m talking about people on the sidewalk or sitting on their balconies. But I finally got into a taxi, and told the driver to take me to the Ymittos neighborhood located near the center of Athens.

That’s where my cousin lived. The driver was very friendly. He talked and talked as red traffic lights went by. It wasn’t my first trip to Greece so seeing tall mountains and grazing sheep made me suspect this guy was taking me for a ride – a long ride. I decided to use my Hell’s Kitchen personality – that’s where I was born. Taking out my pad and pencil and giving him a ‘Ma Barker’ look, I said in Greek, “gimme your name and number, patrioti!” He looked at me from the overhead mirror and slowed down, looked around, dazed. Then, he explained that he’d forgotten that the detour is no longer needed. “Things change too fast in Athens,” he said, apologetically. “I forgot that I could take the old route again.” Yeah! Right! Becoming more reasonable, he turned off the meter and started the car up, again.

My cousin was so glad to see me. I had my own room and settled in. I have to tell you, if you’re thinking of losing weight, don’t visit Greece. If you really want to lose weight go to England. The food there is, in my opinion, unpalatable; Kidney Pie, Fish n’ Chips, Lasagna n’ chips, or, Tripe n’ Chips, (which are pieces of a cow’s stomach lining). Well, at least, there’s always a McDonald’s somewhere. My cousin had prepared a dinner that was fit for a fat gourmet. And, that happened almost every day. I had to plan on taking tours somewhere so I could eat less. But I had a very relaxing good time. I learned all the news of relatives I’d never met; like Stavros was cheating on his wife; Vangelis caught his neighbor stealing one of his goats; Giannakos left for Australia and his wife is still celebrating; Markos, the old school teacher, married one of his students. Not really interested, but, I gave my Bette Davis’ shocked’ routine.

I had been seriously thinking of going to Greece again when a certain president came into office. I won’t mention his name but it sounds like a gastronomical disorder. To tell the truth (I do that, sometimes) I couldn’t wait until he got voted out of office even though he said he wasn’t. I was glad I didn’t have to impose on my cousin for four years. But you know what? New Jersey suits me just fine. I’ll stay put!

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