Greek-American Stories: Vacationing Made Simple

August 11, 2019
Phyllis “Kiki” Sembos

I need a break! The spring season usually brings brochures and pamphlets in the mail displaying happy, smiling tourists splashing in blue waters, dining in quaint bistros and looking like money is no object. I thought about all the previous vacations we went on as a family, and I felt exhaustion just remembering it; the hassles of stuffing the suitcases, hoping I hadn’t forgotten anything, checking feverishly for our passports, tickets, reservations, and then driving to the airport that seemed a million miles away. Then, once at the airport, we drag the weighty luggage to where we have to stand on a l-o-n-g line for the checking in, going through a detector, placing anything made of metal on the mobile ‘thing’ and then our personal belongings, getting searched for bombs, hand grenades, spears, poison darts, or swords, or anything else I decided not to take along. So, that’s when I decided that since the kids have families of their own and the grandkids do…whatever, why can’t husband and I take it easy and just stay home? Why not! Think of all the rest and relaxation we could enjoy.

First, I’ll clean the whole house, buy enough food so that I won’t need to go out for anything, and then I’ll plan on what we’ll do. I’m tempted to unplug the telephone. But, the kids may get anxious and run over here, start the search for the Will. For starters, I won’t listen or watch the news. That’s a refreshing start right there! Then, I won’t collect the newspaper out front, excepting the National Herald. I won’t turn on the TV where ads for cars and chemicals abound and, the news gets more horrific and scary by the minute. I’ll place a note on the front door, “Do Not Knock. Hungry Pitbull Inside.”

So, day # 1 has arrived. We slept late, had breakfast near lunch time, and lunch near dinner time and went outside to see the sun descend. That’s when our neighbor sees us and starts a conversation about his hip operation. I had to run into the house when mosquitoes started seeing me as an appetizer. Then, the mailman stuffs our mail box with bills, brochures, and pamphlets for wonderful vacation spots and there was an advertisement for a button that you push; ‘Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!’ Bill, that’s husband, says the grass needs mowing, the car needs a good cleaning, and the patio needs sweeping and hosing down. “So? Do it! I’m on vacation!”

Two phone calls started blinking on the answering machine. “Just a reminder that you owe the Social Security $1,200 for the neglect of reporting your income. If you don’t send us a check by the end of this week an officer will come to your door. Your e-mail is…”

The second was, “Hi, grandma, I’m in trouble. “Good! I hope he goes to jail. In the first place my grandkids call me ‘Yiayia.” Nyaaa! By the end of day #1, I start feeling a little anxious. But, it’s only the beginning. I make dinner and afterwards, I wash the dishes and pots and put them away. I hadn’t made the beds this morning. So, I had to do it now. Bill drops into bed like a horse having just come off the race track. Pfoof! It was like an earthquake! Next day, # 2, I made us breakfast and decided to have it out on the patio. But, the bugs wake up earlier than us and I, quick, shoveled the dishes back into the kitchen. This time I made the beds and showered and spread out on the sofa where I took up a magazine. Every page had ads for pills, injections, or nursing homes where we’d get excellent care – after you sign away your car, cash, and house. And, just like in the vacation brochures, the people were smiling, splashing in blue waters and eating in a quaint dining room.

On day # 3, the phone rang. It was daughter #1. “What’s going on, ma? We haven’t heard from you! Are you alright?” I assured her we’re fine. “What’re you doing?” she asked. After a pause, after a long think, I told her, “Well, we’re just sitting around, looking at the brochures and pamphlets for where we could go for a vacation. I need a break!”


Elmer ‘Lucky’ McGinty’s crystal clear memories of a life well lived flow with a thickness, a richness, that borders on the hypnotic.

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