Greek-American Stories: The Facts of Life

May 26, 2018
Phyllis “Kiki” Sembos

Often someone appears on TV or mentions in a magazine or on the radio a fact that is designed to surprise you.  For instance, I’d read in a newspaper that it is a fact that elephants can’t jump.  So? If I weighed a ton, I couldn’t jump either.  Or, that peanuts are an ingredient in making dynamite; that the words, ‘orange’ and ‘month’ have no rhyming words? What about the fact that pizza originated in Naples in the 18th century.  I’d pause and think.  Then, I’d tell myself, ‘who cares?’ Can those bits of knowledge enrich our existence in any way; exhilarate our every waking moment? I don’t think so!  For instance, I woke up this morning, sitting on the edge of my bed, wondering what I have to do this morning.  I wasn’t anxious to know that the planet ‘Sirius’ crossed the norther sky at 7:46AM, I don’t care!

In fact, I don’t give a hollerin’ hoot to know that we lose 50 to 100 hairs a day.  I have a vacuum cleaner.  Is it beneficial to learn that your TV remote is the dirtiest item in any house, hospital or hotel? So, use wipes! What triviality”But, there are facts that are important to know like; did I remember to pay the electric bill?  When is my dentist appointment?  Did I register to vote? Now that’s important!

I’m beginning to believe that there is a group or groups of people out there who are attempting to turn us into factual fanatics.  Their game is to keep your mind busy, so busy that you have no time to notice that your house is sinking an inch every month.  Or, that your mayor is proposing to sell of our park to Burger King.  Superfluous facts are designed by certain people to make themselves appear well informed but that your intellect is just above that of a goat.  They hope that you, the dull-witted public, become so inundated with useless information that you, in your confused state, will need the assistance of the usher to leave the theater.  We’re being stuffed with so much nonessential facts that, soon, you won’t know how to vote without a volunteer going into the booth with you.

I didn’t know that the Mona Lisa has no eyebrow.  I knew that the word, “astronaut” is from the Greek, “star sailor.”  But it won’t pay your rent.  It won’t bring tranquility into your life.  They should be giving you facts that will be relevant to your daily life, like Shop Rite is having their CanCan Sale starting tomorrow; or Bed, Bath & Beyond is sending that 20% discount soon.  But, don’t blame yourself! Not at all! It’s being done to all of us on purpose, slowly crowding useless information into your brain in order to keep your mid so busy with so much triviality that you start to wonder what else we don’t know, how have you managed to live this long without such earth-shattering info. I mean, learning that a strawberry isn’t, actually, a berry but a banana derivative won’t improve my mental health.  In fact, it might confuse me further.  Do I buy bananas or strawberries? What do I really want?

I learned my lesson long ago.  I learned to tune out those wise guys when, once, at a party that was growing dull of conversation, I thought I’d mention to a group of bystanders an eye stretching fact that 41 years ago Cornell University researchers discovered rings around Uranus.  That when I noticed that the guests started to move away from me.  Just as I was about to inform them that our drinking water and food is being compromised, our kids are too preoccupied with electronics, and lately, music is loud and ugly.  We must all learn to be more focused; more responsible, more tuned in to what is really vital to our well-being.  I can think of a myriad of topics more high ranking and eminent while I drink my coffee, (did you know that it takes 5 pounds of coffee beans to make one cup of coffee?), feed my cat, (a cat doesn’t really have nine lives but can live 15 to 20 years) and …now, where the’ hell did I put those lottery tickets?


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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