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Greek-American Stories: Yiannis’s Generosity

The five guys were sitting at their usual table that cold Sunday afternoon I January, each with coffees and the usual dish of donuts centering the table. Dimos brought up the subject of a coming holiday. “We’ve gotta start thinking about that special day in February, guys. It’s the first holiday in February, you know.” John, smiling, said, “I know! It’s my busiest day, too! Flowers fly out the door.”

Nodding, Dimos added, “and the diner is crowded with couples and families – all ordering the specials I make for that occasion.” Kipreos, scratching his head, asked, “first holiday in February? Hmmm! Taking out a small pocket calendar and giving it a quick scan, he lifted his head and shrugged. “People buy flowers? Why would anyone celebrate Ground Hog Day?” When a round of laughter subsided, Dimos explained, “not that day, Kipreos. The next one – Valentine’s Day. Aren’t you going to remember Stella on that day?” “Oh!” muttered Kipreos, sorry the holiday was mentioned. “Ah, no, not anymore.” John was sympathetic. “Not your girlfriend anymore?” Kipreos shook his head. “I couldn’t keep up with all her hinting all the time. She’d call and say, ‘guess what day is coming.’ And, I’d have to wrack my brain to recall. Her birthday? The anniversary of our first date?  The day we had an argument and made up? She had a list of dates. I finally gave up.” John asked, “At least, did she remember your birthday?” “Oh, yeah! With a big fanfare; too! Flowers at my door, a gift, cards, telephone calls at my work… I tell you I got tired of it all.” He paused. “Then, when I didn’t remember her birthday, she’d sulk, play with her food when she came by the hotel where I work, not speak to me and no more phone calls, either.”

Dimos asked, “So, she’s not your girlfriend anymore?” Kipreos thought a while, shrugged and said, “I guess not! Hey! It was her choice, not mine.”

Dimos suggested he buy her a bouquet of flowers with a special note, saying how much he missed her. Kipreos gave the idea a thought. Then, he reached out for a donut and said, “nah! Then, her list will get longer. It’ll include the day I sent her those flowers.” That settled, the attention fell on Yiannis, who was silent all that time. “Well, Yiannis?” began Dimos. “What’s on your agenda for that wonderful wife of yours? I hope you don’t forget her on Valentine’s Day.” Setting down his coffee, he said, “it’s all settled!” Everyone focused on him. John’s eyes widened. “You mean you’ve gotten her a card and all that?” “I don’t have to! Last year’s card is just fine.” “Last year’s card?” questioned Dimos. George, nodding, told them, “Areti told my wife that Yiannis gives her the same card every year. It has sentimental value, she explained. I think has ‘being cheap’ value!”

They all looked at Yiannis for an explanation. Wiping his chin, he explained, “as usual, George doesn’t understand. It happens that Areti loves that card. Why buy another card that she may not appreciate as much as that one.” He continued, “besides! In the card I always include a twenty dollar bill that she can spend any way she likes.” That surprised them all! “Wow! That’s a lot of money!” said Kipreos, impressed. Dimos, very surprised, said, “that’s very generous of you, Yiannis. Tell us! Did she buy anything that she liked, especially?” Leaning back in his seat, Yiannis smiled knowingly. “Of course! You know that women like to shop. It was hers to spend as she liked. But, choosing gifts isn’t a one-way street, you know! I explained to her that I am a faithful, kind husband. I should be appreciated, too.” Knowing Areti as a plain dresser, a frugal consumer, and a careful buyer, John asked, “tell us what she finally chose.”  A wide smile spread on his face as he told them, “Areti, always the thoughtful wife.” With a breath of satisfaction, he pointed to his woolen pullover. “Nice? This pullover cost twenty dollars. I checked!”

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