Greek-American Stories: Travel Plans

July 8, 2019
Phyllis “Kiki” Sembos

That Sunday in Dixon’s, Kipreos announced that he was going to Cyprus to see his mother. “I’ll be gone for two weeks.” Dimos nodded approval, “Does she know you’re coming?” Kipreos nodded. “Oh, yes! She’s even lined up potential brides for me.” Dimos smiled, “Does that mean you’ll be coming home paired up?” Kipreos replied, meekly, “I hope not!” John asked. “Why not, Kipreos? You’ve got a good job, a nice apartment; you’d get care and companionship. What’s wrong with that?” Kipreos collected his thoughts. But, how does one broach the subject without sounding negative towards his married friends? He had nothing against marriage, as long as it wasn’t his own. “I have enough companionship here, with my friends. I like my little apartment. With a wife, I’d have to move to a larger one. I’d have to take care of her, besides. Maybe she’ll be difficult to deal with. I don’t know.” He stared into his coffee cup.

George said, “Marriage is a gamble, of course. One has to learn to compromise.” Kipreos nodded, “A compromise can get noisy, then get real silent. The silence is just as bad as noisy. I wouldn’t know how to deal with that.”

“What about Stella? You seemed to like her; you both go to the movies, you took her to the dance at church, too.” Kipreos smiled. “She’s really the nicest woman I’ve ever met. She understands me, doesn’t demand anything, laughs at what I say, doesn’t mind when I don’t call her – she’s perfect! I like to keep it that way.”

The others, probably, reminiscing about their own experiences, dropped the subject. “How are you going to get to the airport?” Kipreos shrugged. “By taxi, I guess.” John’s brow furrowed, “We’ll go in my florist car. We’ll take you, won’t we, guys?” It was unanimously agreed.

Yiannis, figuring no taxi fare would be expected, voted to join them, until…Dimos said, “Isn’t your car in the repair shop?” John’s head came up. “That’s right! I forgot. We’ll have to take a taxi.”

A hesitant Yiannis’ mind began doing some tall figuring. Taxi means money, money that will have to be divided by each of them. It’s a long trip to the airport, five or six dollars away, or more.” Looking up, Yiannis said, “I’d like to join you but I just remembered an appointment that day.”

Dimos said, “You don’t even know what day Kipreos is leaving.”  George, grinning, said, “Any day there’s the threat that your hand might go into your pocket is your busy day.”

“Not true!” He reached for his second donut. “Only yesterday, my neighbor, an old lady, gave me her letter to take to the post office and it had no stamp. I paid for one.” George raised up a brow, “Real generous of you. I didn’t know you had it in you.” Yiannis nodded, “Why not? Then, I gave her my letter when she was on her way to her doctor’s.” John guessed, “Did it have a stamp on it?” Yiannis shrugged, “I forgot to put one on it. So, she did. That’s what neighbors and friends do for one another. It’s called sharing – I am an avid believer of sharing!”

“Generous!” nodded Dimos. But, George wanted to make sure Yiannis went with them.  He thought and thought. Then hit on an idea. Sending a wink at Dimos, he said, “is that promise of eating lunch after Kipreos boards, still on, Dimos?” Catching the signaling wink, Dimos grinned, “Of course!” Yiannis’ ears perked up, his brain picturing a sumptuous luncheon, free, at one of those fine airport restaurants, one he’d never partake any other time. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. John, in on the scheme, announced. “Ah! I know a place that’s really super fine. And, a Greek owns it. A bit pricey, but…”

Yiannis became more animated, saying, “Oh, ok” No one raised any objection at his sudden change of plans.

“Fine!” Dimos agreed, cheerfully. “If we all pitch in with the restaurant tab, the taxi going and coming, it will be cheaper.” Yiannis’ mind pictured big dollars flying from his pocket; taxi, restaurant tab. The others waited to see how the ol’, el cheapo would slide out of this one. After long pondering, he said, “maybe I shouldn’t think about canceling my appointment with the cardiologist that day. That’s more important!” He looked around the table for approval. George said, “We’ll take you to your appointment when we come back.” Yiannis felt weakness at the new calculations:  taxi, restaurant tab, doctor appointment…


This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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