The Greek, Part Two
This is an apology to the Greek.
I met him, as I have mentioned, on the night when I decided I should have sex with somebody who wasn’t my ex-husband. For the first time in 21 years. Just to get it over with. Just to get it out of the way.
He was, for some reason, at my local. It was late. We were two Jamesons away from a foolish decision. He was thin and cute and clearly into me.
Greeks dig me. I already said that.
We had those two Jamesons.
He was, and is, and continues to be, much, much younger than me.
I chalked it up to whatever one chalks these things up to. Never hear from him again, I thought. Didn’t really want to, actually.
And, yet, for some reason, he decided not to step out of my life. Every now and then I would get a text from the Greek. On vacation. At work. Suggesting fun trips we might take together. Fishing! Upstate! Dinners! Drinks!
Pictures of his hats! Pictures of his car!
He texted me from Hawaii, in his beach wear.
And over all these months, nearly a year in fact, I’ve built up this picture of the Greek as a very young guy who is a little clueless, but sweet. And not terribly well informed about his own country’s history or well equipped with the social graces.
So this week, out of the blue, the Greek texts me. Come and have dinner with me, he says. And I think, why not? Because I’m starting to think differently about being single, starting to think that it might not be time to get back on my game. And to do that some practice is in order.
Fine, I say, but it has to be Greek food. And I’m prepared to travel to get the best. Deepest darkest Queens. I will be there. Name the subway stop.
Don’t be silly, the Greek says. I’ll pick you up. You’ll never find the place and besides its miles away from the nearest subway.
So he picks me up. And we drive to deepest darkest Queens and we have the best Greek food that I’ve had in some decades. The Greek knows his food and his wine. I’m the only non-Greek in the restaurant and I’m in fucking heaven. I stuff my food n a greedy fashion and swallow some excellent wine from Santorini.
The Greek says wine from Santorini is coming along. Although not quite there yet, in his opinion.
I find out that the Greek is a father. He has a three year old daughter called Ariadne. He was married for a bit and his wife left him for someone who wasn’t him and moved to California with his daughter. He’s working on a business that’s struggling. His year has been tough, like mine.
He’s polite and kind and well informed about Greek history. We go back and forth on the question of the cultural values of classical Athens and Sparta. He knows his stuff. I don’t know why I was arrogant enough to assume that he didn’t.
And I find out too that the Greek, until he moved to New York ten years ago, spoke not one word of English.
He’s come a long way. Because he’s cracking wise in quite a satisfactory way.
After dinner he drives me back to Brooklyn we go to my local and the Greek holds his own with the regulars, a couple of whom are three or four beers past their best, in a calm and clever way. He says he thinks his English isn’t very good, but it actually is.
I’ve misjudged the Greek all this time. Based on his texts. I thought he was a little silly, but he isn’t. He’s quite sober and grounded.
So I decide to tell him the truth. That I only slept with him to see if I could. I tell him I hope he isn’t insulted, because I find, now, that I like him.
He’s not insulted. He says he wanted to buy me dinner to make up for pestering me all these months.
We talk some more, about international politics and football, and I make sure he hasn’t had too much to drink so that he can drive home okay. If he kills himself driving while drunk, I tell him, I’ll personally come to Queens and kill him again for being an idiot.
The Greek says he’s okay. So I let him drive home.
I was completely wrong about the Greek. Texting is a wildly imperfect medium, especially if you add the extra degree of difficulty of doing it in a language that is not your mother tongue. A language that you didn’t know ten years ago. I’m a little sad, in a way. If I’d given the Greek the benefit of the doubt, we could have been friends all of these months. It sounds like he could do with friends. Because he told me too, that it’s hard having his daughter live thousands of miles away. So hard, that he’s thinking of moving to California to be near her. Even though it would mean starting from scratch. Again.
The Greek doesn’t seem so young when I speak to him. He seems quite old, actually. He’s had his fair share of shit to shovel, and that takes its toll on all of us.
I decide, in light of the change of the status of our friendship, that I should have his correct name in my phone. For months he’s been lurking there, somewhat patronizingly as George the Greek.
George isn’t the name his parents gave him. So I give him permission to write his actual name into my phone. First and last.
He takes my phone, looks at the label I’ve given him, laughs, and writes; Yiorgos The Athenian.