I met the Greek on a night that I sometimes think you can only have in New York. At eleven o’clock I was in midtown at a posh catered party discussing the fall of the Roman Empire with theoretical physicists. At two am I was in an outer borough dive bar hunched over a whiskey, considering an extremely forthright proposal.
Greeks dig me—I bear a passing resemblance to the film star Irene Pappas—and this one was an eager, grabby young thing. It was like having a man-sized puppy jumping up and down in front of me, yelping “Pick me! Pick me!” It wasn’t a difficult decision—it was late, but I wasn’t in the least tired. And two Jamesons had removed any concerns I might have had about—how shall we say this delicately? Oh right, there is no way to say it delicately—my first carnal encounter after 21 years of monogamy.
Things are very, very different from the last time I was free range. So, I approached the night as an anthropologist might approach an Amazonian tribe. What is the one night stand etiquette? At which point in the evening does one introduce the subject of condoms? How long does one stay? Is the exchange of telephone numbers pro forma? Does one say thank you?
The Greek had smooth, beautiful skin, the color of fresh olives, and Greek is one of the sexiest languages to listen to. Afterwards, he took my number–pro forma, I thought–and left.
“Great,” I thought. “That’s over with. Ice is broken. Nothing to see here, folks.”
But the Greek stuck around. He would text me a couple of times a week with proposals varying from the whimsical; “Want to go swimming? Let’s get sushi and watch Netflix!” to the downright dirty. (I’ll spare you the details, needless to say, it involved a re-match.) He sent me photos of his hats and told me about his childhood dog.
He truly believes the dog he had as a kid says something about his sexual personality.
After a few weeks of this I asked him why he was so persistent. He said it’s a Greek thing. When Greeks have passion for something, they pursue it with single mindedness. He wanted me, and there was no persuading him otherwise. I told him that technically, I’m old enough to be his mother. “I’m 36 and a half,” he replied indignantly, perhaps not aware that only the young measure their age in half years. “Besides, you look good naked,” he added, as if that settled the matter.
He can’t flirt at all, so in idle moments I tried to teach him. I told him to stop with the direct ask and be a little more subtle. Play the Greek card, and play it hard. Exercise that sense of humor; get a woman to laugh and you’re half way home. We explored metaphors and he seemed to get it, although his English falls apart when he’s excited, which is most of the time. “Remember the Greeks put always the black hat! You people the colorful,” is a recent text that may have to remain part of the mysteries of the ages.
I learned that in Greek my name starts with an X, which for some reason, pleases me greatly.
I learned that Greeks don’t know the the expression, ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.’
I toyed briefly with the idea of taking him in hand properly and teaching him how to behave, both in and out of the bedroom, because he could use a little help. (Insert your Greek bailout joke here.) But I didn’t. If he was this persistent after one night, I knew would never see the back of him. As a friend said recently, “I like men best when they leave.”
The Greek eventually did leave. He had discovered that I know a little about ancient history and texted me with an invitation to watch the movie Troy, “starring Brad Pitt!!” he added, as the clincher. (Homer is surely spinning in his sarcophagus to see how some of the modern day sons of Helen have turned out.)
I said no. He asked whether he’d lost the battle but won the war and I told him, kindly and firmly that it was time he moved on, found somebody closer to his own age.
And, showing that he had been listening to at least some of the things I said, he texted his goodbye in Greek.
I have no idea what it meant—I didn’t get around to feeding it through Google translator—but I was proud.
Very, very proud.