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Greek-American Stories: The Better Devil

My husband, Vasili (Bill to you), came into the kitchen looking like he gave too much blood at the Blood donor’s Center. “Where’re my socks?” he asked, holding up three different color socks. “There used to be seven pair in my drawer – complete pairs. Now I have these orphans, which means I only have four complete pairs. There are seven days in the week. Where are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday’s socks?” I shrugged. “I don’t really know, Bill. They’re in the basement, maybe – somewhere – missing, maybe.” He stared at me as if I’d turned into E.T.

I explained, patiently, ”Bill, I put a load of wash in the washing machine with other things and when I took them out – there were no mates to those.” He took in a deep breath. “You think you put in three pairs. If three singles came out it means you put in three singles. Simple as that!”

I waved my hands. “Then, maybe they’re in the motor – hiding. Listen! That machine hates me! It’s been frothing at the mouth, waltzing across the floor, or making rumbling noises like street repairs. We’ve got to call Stavros.” His expression worsened. “NO! Not Stavros. He thinks he’s Einstein, costs me too much, and expects a food fest afterwards. I remember last time. He sat in the kitchen talking, reaching for the French bread, ate slices of roast beef with a beer and some of the cookies you baked.” I objected. “He’s not just our repairman. He’s our friend.” “I know! A very hungry friend. Call anybody else – not Stavros this time!” He was emphatic. So, I called a repair man from the local newspaper and made an appointment.

Next morning, a huge, bearded ‘hulk’ look – alike, wearing boots resembling snow shoes, holding a heavy tool box, stood in my doorway, asking, “Wot’s wrong lady?”  “My washing machine.  It struts around the basement and makes more noise than my lawn mower. I have socks missing. I can’t locate their match.”  He grinned. “You think you put in three pairs. If three singles came out it means you put in three singles. Simple as that!” Observing me, he said, “I don’t mean to be …ah, nosy, but…you….maybe…drink?” “No! I never drink.” But, I might start, I thought, wishing I’d called Stavros. He, then, clod- hopped down the basement. I heard clinking, clanking and thumping. He’d been down there three-quarters of an hour. Then, he asked me to throw some clothes in the washer. I asked him if he found the missing socks. His mouth formed a sarcastic sneer and said, “I’m not a magician, lady. That would mean me opening up the motor. That’ll be an extra ten dollars. If I opened the pump – that’ll be….” he scratched his head as numbers tumbled like the last cycle in the machine. “Never mind!” I told him, anxious to get it over with. Upstairs, Calculating the bill, his nose twitched. He looked up and saw the pile of chocolate chip cookies I baked just that morning. “Hey! They look good! Any chance of a sample?”  I put some cookies onto a plate. “Gee! They make me real thirsty. Any chance of coffee?” Out came the automatic coffee maker and, in a few minutes, Shrek was drinking state-of-the-arts brand coffee. Then, at last he thanked me and left. Bill came home and asked if the repair man came. I handed him the bill. He stared down at the exorbitant figure, slapped his forehead and said, “What’s this for? Did the machine have a heart transplant?”  When he calmed down he asked about the missing socks. I explained they weren’t in the motor. To find them, he’d have to open the pump and that would have cost extra – it would have been cheaper to buy new socks. He saw the cookie plate with fewer cookies – many fewer. Then, he noticed the empty coffee cup. I shrugged. “The cookies made him thirsty.” He shook his head. “I don’t understand it! Noah took in everything two-by-two. I wonder if socks came by the pairs, too.” That’s when I found it an opportune moment to mention that Stavros would have been easier to deal with. ”Maybe cheaper.” He nodded, slowly, as if it hurt his neck. “Maybe not cheaper but,” he sighed. “Better the devil we know than the devil we don’t know.’”



How coincidental is it that two of our most important communities in the USA – the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan and St.

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