JUST AN ORDINARY DAY IN THE LIFE OF YIAYIA AND SON OF YIAYIA

YIAYIA CCNine O’ clock on a Sunny spring morning, a hot cup of coffee, and some of Yiayia’s excellent κουλουράκι, (homemade cookies to die for), three current newspapers on the kitchen table to choose from, and of course, Yiayia, sitting at the table, while sipping her coffee, reading her paper; pen and pad Bye her saucer, two pair of glasses, a third she wore, telephone Bye her side and was all ready to evaluate the day to come.

“Andoni, did you see this?” Yiayia asks, putting down the paper and pointing at an article.

I looked over and put my paper down for a minute. “Oh yes, I saw that.” It was a pastoral picture of a nearby lakeside campground. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it Mah, I’m going there camping next month.”

“I know,” Yiayia said, “That’s why I showed it to you.”

“Mah, you should go down there sometime, it’s so peaceful and quiet,” I said.

“Yeahsure,” she said, “so isn’t the cemetery, but I live in a house like people, not in the woods like Zon, (animals),” she retorted.

I looked at her, “Now what brought that on, the fact that I’m going camping, or the fact there are animals in the woods. Ahh, that’s it,” raising my eyebrows like I just won a prize. “Not just any animals, but pigeons.”

“Yes,” she said, turning her head towards me, looking up from her glasses. They go all over my car. They make a mess; they make me the laughing stalk of the neighborhood.”

“Mother, the whole neighborhood is like that, everybody’s car is like that.”

“No, not everybody; John, next door doesn’t have that,” she said.

“He just got here; they haven’t seen his car yet. Don’t worry Mah, they’ll get him too.”

“Ohsure, but they got my car first. Why? What possessed them?”

“I don’t know, Mah. Maybe they’re on the lookout for big red Lincolns.”

“Yeahsure, and who’s going to clean that up?” badsad donnie

 

There it is; I knew there was a method to this mad conversation.  Why is it, I can never see it coming. It’s the Yiayia logic . . . moves in mysterious ways. From a picture in the paper of a campground, to getting me to wash the car; of course she could’ve just asked, but that’s not how Yiayia logic moves.

 

“Okay, Mah, don’t worry about it, I’ll clean it up,” nodding a humble yes.

“Good . . . ., make sure you wear the blue gloves.”

“I will.”

“And make sure you do the back window too.”

“Yup; the back window too,” I said.

“Maybe take out the front rugs and rinse them off.”

“Got it; front rugs.”

“But not now,” Yiayia said tapping my hand. “Have more coffee and read the paper.”

This conversation was now over. We commenced going back to sipping coffee, and reading the newspapers.

 

The doorbell rang, “Come in”, Yiayia shouted from the table. Yiayia always kept the front door ajar in the morning for expected guests, like me and others.

It was Patty the post girl with the morning mail. She came in with a big smile for both of us.

“Hi Patty,” Yiayia said, “honey help yourself to some coffee.” Patty poured a quick cup and brought Yiayia her morning mail where she and Yiayia went over the junk mail deciding which is likely to be given a second look, and which ones to toss now. She stayed long enough for all of us to share a quick point of view on the weather, and then she started toward the front door.

“Bye Yiayia, Bye Donnie,” Patty said.

“Bye honey, don’t forget the brown package on the counter,” Yiayia said. After Patty left Yiayia turned to me and explained to me that Patty gets very hungry around noon, she likes tuna on rye bread for lunch. As Yiayia explained this she picked up the pen and wrote on the pad, ‘buy more tuna fish.’

The smell and taste of a nice tuna fish on rye, but with pickles swept through my mind. Before I could even begin to mouth a possible future request, I saw Yiayia pick up her pen, and write on her pad, ‘buy pickles’. She read my mind, nothing new there. She put down the pen, and we both went back to sipping coffee and reading the news.

The phone rang just as Yiayia started to reach for it. “Bobby, is that you?  She said, how have you been dear?”

It was Bobby Finn, who lived across the street. He was known in the neighborhood as a Mr. fix-it, the man who could fix almost anything, and just an all-around great neighbor. They chatted for a good five minutes while I read the paper, and strained my ears to listen in. All I could get was something to do with paint, dirt, and a donkey. When she hung up, she picked up her paper and started reading.

This went on for several minutes, but then I had to know.

I put down my paper, “Was that Bobby Finn?”

No answer.  Yiayia has developed a small case of hearing loss in her upper years that can be a disadvantage at times; so she tells us. I believe she’s developed a large case of selective hearing which is more a tool than a disadvantage, and is used when and where she deems necessary. (Chapter 4, verse 2 in the official Yiayia rule book: ‘How to use selective hearing’.)

I slightly upped my voice a bit, “Mah?”  yiayia's hat0006

No answer.

I raised my voice, “Mother?”

“Andoni, stop yelling at me; what’s wrong with you? I’m right here, not down the street.”

“I’m not yelling, I just wanted to know who you were talking to.” I said.

“When?” asked Yiayia.

“Just now,” I said.

“Why?” asked Yiayia.

“Mah, was that Bobby Finn on the phone.”

“Yes, it was.” She said, rather matter-of-factly.

“Mah, was that about the Donkey, because I told you . . .”

“Andoni, don’t start with me.” She said in warning kind of way.

Yiayia has had a large stone donkey statue, about as big a large dog, hauling a pot of flowers; as her main lawn ornament for decades, and the last few winters have taken its toll; it was in need of much repair.  I have been studying the whole situation, for years now, watching its decline, and had been planning a surprise repair in the future . . . someday.son of yiayia3

“Mah, this is easy, I was planning to start soon,” I assured her.

“Yeahsure, we’ll all be dead by then.”

I gave her a smug look, “Oh come-on Mom, what makes you think Bobby’s the only one that can do that, and I can’t.

She looked at me intensely and said, “because, you want to live in the woods with the Zon.”

“Wha . . .” There was no answer to that, it was a rabbit whole best avoided.

We both instantly forgot about it, and again went back to leisurely sipping our coffee and reading our papers awaiting the next morning event in an ordinary day with Yiayia and Son of Yiayia.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

THIS IS THE LAST INSTALLMENT FOR A WHILE.

I WILL BE TAKING A HIATUS FROM THIS BLOG PREPARING NEW AND IMPROVED EPISODES FOR CHAPTERS IN AN UPCOMING BOOK, OF COURSE ENTITLED,

SON OF YIAYIA

Check back now and then for updates on

the upcoming book, and thank you for the fabulous responses,

Donnie

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

SHARE THIS:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

YIAYIA’S ST. PATRICK’S DAY DINNER

st patty yiayia pic0004

 

 

Every year my Mother, (Yiayia), promises the perfect St. Patrick’s Day, authentic Corned beef and cabbage dinner, which I love, and she always delivers . . . almost. She cooks up the most delicious, Greek version of Corned beef and cabbage, Spanakorizo με κρέας; Greek spinach and rice with meat, not quite the same, actually quite different, but never-the-less, sumptuous. She even has a Greek version of green beer, which is Metaxas Liqueur in a green glass. Of course, if you were to drink a full beer glass of Metaxas Liqueur, there is a good chance you will have a great deal of trouble waking up in the morning. I’ve learned this first hand.

 

The reason for her different version of this traditional Irish dinner is her belief that; himself, St. Patrick was Greek . . ., I know, where did that come from. Before you even begin to question this, don’t. I promise you, it will give you a headache. This belief of hers is simply, a Yiayia truth; spoken out of the mouth of Yiayia herself, which means, it is what it is, and that’s it, don’t question it.

 

I still remember the first time I sat down to a Yiayia’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner. The kids and I came over for this first time dinner.

“Mom, this isn’t Corned beef and cabbage,” I said staring down at the plate.

“Yes it is,” said Yiayia

I was amazed how she took Greek spinach and rice – with tiny chunk sized bits of meat, and shaped it into a giant four leaf clover on a green plate.

“It’s beautiful,” I said, “but it’s not Corned beef and cabbage”. I didn’t know whether to eat it, or frame it, but the aroma was so familiar and appetizing, I dug in on the upper leaf of this Irish decorated Spanakorizo με κρέας; and it was as tasty. fulfilling as any a Spanakorizo I’ve had of in the past, and the meat added a nice flavor. Though it wasn’t Corned beef and cabbage, that mind, body, mouth, taste connection had been preparing for the traditional Irish dish for two days now.

“How is it?”

“Excellent, delicious, but . . .”

Just then my young Son, Kosta, came into the room, and asked, “Hey Dad, isn’t Yiayia’s Corned beef and cabbage the best. I think it’s cool,” then ran off again.

“Oh Mah, why did you tell the kids this is Corned beef and cabbage, I mean, they’re going to find out some day that it isn’t.”

Yiayia, stopped her shuffling around the kitchen, and sat down at the table in front of me. I was about to get a serious Yiayia lecture.

“Andoni, didn’t your Father ever tell you about St. Patrick, the Patron Saint?”

Here it comes. I had heard this before: apparently a friend, of a friend, of my Father took a picture of a byzantine styled, stained glass window in a church in Greece of a, he was told, Patron Saint named Patrikus, or it could’ve been, Patronis, or Peter, or Paul, it doesn’t matter. What was a large stained glass window of St. Patrick doing in a Greek church, obviously, because he must’ve been Greek. From there the tale of the Greek St. Patrick grew, and by the time it was filled in with details of his life it was ready for word of mouth circulation, and my Mother got the whole low down from my Father, and the only person that Yiayia would even consider listening to was Papou, my Father – at least sometimes.

“Mah, please.”

“Don’t you please me, Zon, and disrespect your Father at the same time.”

“No Mah, I didn’t, I just don’t think you should . . .”

“Oh, Andoni, you’re always the trouble maker.”

“Mah, I mean, what does Spanakorizo have to do with Corned beef and cabbage, for heaven sake . . .”

“You should talk to the priest.” Yiayia said.

Then the headaches began, and I shut my mouth except to enjoy and finished my Spanakorizo με κρέας / Corned beef and cabbage.

 

 

I think Yiyia always knew the real truth, the meal she prepared, and the story that came with it. It was a fairy tale for the kids, and after all, even a thirty-something Son of Yiayia was still, in her eyes, a young kid.

But, this year she has been challenged by me, Son of Yiayia, to make the real thing and have it be authentic. Yiayia never runs from a challenge. Authentic I wanted, authentic I got.

 The best Corned beef cabbage I’ve had.

  Erin go bragh

SHARE THIS:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

YIAYIA AND THE EASTER BUNNY

Scan0003

“Yiayia, are we going to see the Easter Bunny today?” Asked little Kosta.

“Yes, honey, as soon as we get off the subway,” Yiayia said.

Little Kosta looked out the subway window at all the mounds of snow that should’ve been gone weeks ago. That didn’t stop downtown city shopping, the hustle and bustle of passengers navigating to and fro, pedestrians crossing streets in both directions on their way to their appointed destinations, and especially the excitement of little Kosta, little Tara, and little Tina at seeing The Easter Bunny; live at Macy’s department store, second floor, passed Men’s clothing, and through the ten foot gates of the ‘Easter Bunny’s Spring Palace’ made of plywood, and adorned with beautiful colors, and artificial flowers.

After waiting in line for twenty minutes Yiayia and her grandchildren entered on to the red carpeted entrance way, fastened off, side to side with yellow rope designating the direction to the Big Bunny himself, sitting in a white chair, between two signs, one large sign stating, ‘Please Watch Your Step’, and a smaller sign stating, ‘All Major Credits Cards Accepted’.

            “Yiayia, is that the real Easter Bunny?” Asked little Tara.

“Of course it is children” Yiayia said.

“Why is the Easter Bunny wearing Glasses, Yiayia, I thought he had good eyes?” Little Tina asked.

“No, there not glasses, there like big sunglasses, see there really his eyes.” Yiayia said.

“Ah, ah,” little Tina said. Not sure of the explanation, but it was from Yiayia, then it must be true.

Each took a turn on the Easter Bunny’s lap, and regaled with happiness, and a laundry list of necessary items they just had to have. Yiayia took note, and smiled at the children. Didn’t matter what they told Miss Bunny Rabbit they wanted, by Easter, Yiayia would have successfully, and with gentle care whittled their lists down to one each, and an autographed picture of the Easter Bunny.

Then it was off to lunch at the store cafeteria, tuna sandwiches with chips, and big glasses of milk. Store bought tuna sandwiches always tasted so good when you were out for the day with Yiayia. Kosta, the eldest of the Grandchildren kept looking over from the table to the Easter Bunny; watching her every move.

“Yiayia is the Easter Bunny really real?” Asked, Kosta.

“Children, I’ve told you before, yes, he is real.”

“But, Yiayia,” said Kosta, “my Father says he isn’t real, and just a man in a costume.”

Yiayia mumbled under her breath, and then looked right at Kosta, “No! I told you she is real, I know because I met her and her Bunny parents many years ago when Yiayia was a little girl.”

“Where, Yiayia?” Asked little Tara.

“In Greece,” Said, Yiayia.

Tina chimed in, “Does that mean the Easter Bunny is Greek like me?”

“Of course, little one, answered Yiayia”

“But Yiayia,” Tina said, “My friend Jessy said, her Mother said, the Easter Bunny is Jewish.”

Yiayia, was getting tired of the third degree.

“Yes, honey, The Easter Bunny has many non-Greek cousins.

“But Yiayia, asked Kosta, how about . . .”

“Enough Kosta,” she shook her head, “you are just like your father, no more talk.”

Yiayia put on her negotiating cap, and her world renowned negotiating skills saved the day. The Easter Bunny is real; there will be an added two gifts to each list the children gave to the Bunny, and there will be a supper of fresh baked Spanakopita when they all got home.

And Kosta’s Father, better-known as, Son of Yiayia, will have none.

Problem solved.

—————————————————————————————

NEXT: YIAYIA’S ST. PATRICKS DAY SPECIAL

SHARE THIS:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

*HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY – YIAYIA*

 

valyiayia0002

 

“So Marisa, what’s going on for Yiayia’s Valentine’s surprise?” I said.

“Don’t know how about you, Donnie? What you got?” Marisa said.

“Nothing, I got nothing. Maybe Stavros, has some ideas.”

“I can barely hear you guys on this phone. Some conference call this is. I was thinking of maybe a restaurant for lunch,” Stavros said.

“Where,” I asked?

“She like’s Chinese food,” Stavros answered.

Marisa chimed in, “oh, I don’t think so. We should let the owners of that establishment calm down a bit before going there again.”

“Well why? That commotion wasn’t her fault.” Stavros said. “It was the Crazy-Bingo-Lady’s fault.”

“Yes, I know” I said, “but, you know, guilt by association. Marisa is right, we should let things calm down a bit before trying the Chinese Food Emporium again.”

“Well, that’s not the only Chinese Restaurant in town.” Stavros said.

chinese0006

FROM –YIAYIA SCOLDS CRAZY-BINGO-LADY ** JAN,25,2015**

“Stavros, little brother, restaurant owners talk to each other, and Crazy-Bingo-Lady created a stir-fried mess, that won’t soon be forgotten. Hell, I remember my Wife was with them, and she gave me complete description over the phone, and even caught a pic of the owner outside the restaurant. I’ll never forget that look. We better cross off Chinese restaurants from the list for a while.” I said.

“Yes, Stavros, Donnie’s right, and I hate it. I loved the Food there.” Marisa said.

“Me too,” I said. But, unfortunately, Crazy-Bingo-Lady is Mah’s friend, and she brought her to most of her favorite restaurants. For that matter, I think we have to forget about Pizza houses, Mexican, Thai, and even Greek restaurants. I wouldn’t doubt it if they all had, Crazy-Bingo-Lady’s mug-shot in their kitchens.”

 

“Hey guys,” Marisa said, “whatever you decide will be good for me, I got a run. I’m looking out my window at my dog taking a leak on the neighbor’s new car, and my neighbors turning a red and blue color, and carrying a broom. Got to go, see you at Mom’s tomorrow.”

Click – she hung up.

“Well then, maybe we should just go back to old traditional valentine’s day methods,” Stavros said.

“You mean like the one where we all let our kids cook a surprise breakfast in bed for Yiayia, and they almost gave her a heart-attack; and we spent the next three months cleaning and painting the kitchen and bedroom. Or, did you mean the one where we all chipped in, and bought Yiayia four valentine love birds over the internet, and they arrived in the mail the next day in their golden cage – dead. Or, the one where . . .”

“Okay, okay, I got it. I was thinking more of cards. It’s safer that way.” Stavros said.

“Yes,” I said, “let’s just all meet up tomorrow at Yiayia’s, with cards. All this thinking is giving me a headache; until tomorrow.”

 

The next day we all showed up at Yiayia’s house, and the next hour it was card presentations from the whole brood. Then a ring at the door; seems we all had the same idea, and wanted to get a little something extra. We were all thinking the same thing it seems. The next best, safest thing other than cards –balloons.YIAYIA CC

Best wishes Yiayia; and many more to come. We all love you Yiayia.

SHARE THIS:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

RETURN OF YIAYIA’S GLASS PUNCH BOWL

images

 

The last time anyone had seen the Glass Punch Bowl; Yiayia’s, Glass Punch Bowl,  was several years ago, shattered into a millions pieces; a most unfortunate family accident. (Post of October 12, 2014 – The Glass Punch Bowl).

Well it’s back!

On a typical day, I had a typical, ‘what-are-doing-today-Andoni,’ phone call from Yiayia. “Not much, doing a little writing, I’m on deadline.”

“Well, I was thinking we could have dinner tonight?” Yiayia asked.

“Not tonight Mah, I going to stick at this writing, maybe another time.” I answered. “Mother, are you Okay?”

“Oh, that’s okay; I’m fine, maybe another time, Bye, Andoni.” She clicked off her phone.

I clicked off my phone, thinking Hmm that was odd, she gave up too easy. Not like my Mother. I didn’t give much thought after that, and went back to work. Little did I know a hundred miles away, a similar conversation was going on with my little Brother; Stavros.

“Stavros, where are you today? Yiayia asked.

“Yeah, Mah, I’m in Connecticut, at the meeting. Thursdays are my Connecticut days, you know that. I’m in the middle of a Business meeting. Are you Okay?” Asked Stavros.

“Oh, I’m fine, just thought you’d like to come to Dinner tonight.” Yiayia said.

“No, Mah, not now, I got my hands full. I just want to get home, and rest.” Stavros said.

“Oh, that’s okay, maybe another time, Bye deer.” Yiayia said.

 

And, yet another mystery phone call to my Little Sister, Marisa.

“Marisa, I wonder if you can come by for dinner tonight, I thought we could talk.” Yiayia said.

“Mah, are you feeling okay?” Marisa gets right to the point.

“Yes, just thought we’d have some girl talk.” Yiayia said.

“Mah, I’m swamped I have to finish these reports, and just want to go home and crash, sorry Mom, another time.”

“That’s fine deer,” Yiayia, laughed a bit, “you, go crash, I’ll be fine. I’ll call you tomorrow; get a good night’s sleep.” Yiayia hung up the phone.

 

Within the hour My Brother, My Sister and I were on a conference call discussing our strange phone calls from Mother.

“So what do you think?” Stavros asked.

“Don’t know, pretty weird call, you think she’s alright?” Marisa asked.

“Yeah, pretty weird, but I’m sure she’s okay, probably just lonely, all the kids are away in school, her friends are taking the night off, who knows? I said.

“Well, I’m beat tonight, and I say we just wait until tomorrow.” Stavros said.

“Yeah, me too, but I don’t want her to feel lonely, I call her tonight after I get home from work.” Marisa said.

“Yes, that’s probably it. If I hear anything else I call you guys, bye.” I hung up, and went back to work.

I dove back into my work, but it was hard to concentrate. This whole thing was just weird. It just didn’t sit right. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I’m sure the same thing was eating at my Brother and Sister.

Another hour had passed, and I stopped working, it was just no good. I couldn’t keep my mind on my work. I went inside to take a break. I started feeling bad, so I was about to reach for the phone when it rang in my hand.

“Andoni, hello this is your Mother calling.” Yiayia said.

“Yes Mah, I know, I recognized your voice.” I said.

“I want to tell you the reason I wanted you to come to dinner tonight?”

“Yes Mah, I’m all ears.”

“Well, I thought you; your Brother and your Sister could all come, and see something. I have a surprise for you. And, also I just made some fresh hot Spanakopita.”

Well, I thought, a two-for, a surprise and Spanakopita – sounds good to me.

This is what I call a clincher call. Closed the sale with the Pita.

“Okay, Mom, I’m a little tired of all this writing, anyway . . . what time do you want me there.”

“Well, Stavros and Marisa, will both be here around Seven tonight.”

“So, they’re defiantly coming. Good, I haven’t seen them in a while, I’ll be there, see you later, Mah.” I said.

As I hung up the phone, I was looking forward to seeing my Brother and Sister, and looking forward to the Pita, but I also felt we were being played. There was something else she wasn’t telling us. This was Yiayia’s way, a delicate persuasion or bribe, but to what end. We’ll just have to see.

 

Two hours later I pulled into Yiayia’s driveway; I noticed my Brother and Sister were already there.

Stavros came up shook my hand, “Well, big Brother we thought you weren’t going make it. I just drove an hour out of the way to be here on time, Marisa, twenty minutes out of her way, and we both got her 30 minutes ago, you live 10 minutes away, and you’re late.” Stavros said.

“Oh, Stavros stop,” and I received a big hug from Marisa. She looked at me with a smirk, “Stavros is just anxious, because Mom won’t let us eat any Pita until you arrived.” Marisa frowned.

“Ah, the Spanakopita, Good, then we all start eating together, no one get a head start,” I said.

“Oh, now wait, big Brother, that doesn’t mean you sit down, and start eating like a Zon.” Marisa reminded me.

“Oh, you’re just jealous, Marisa, because you eat with the delicate pinky’s-up method. Good; more for us guys.” I said.

“Yes, I do – I’m a lady,” Marisa said, with a smile.”

Stavros sat on the couch laughing. “Oh sure,” nodding his head, “who do you think you’re kidding with that that pinky’s-up stuff, that’s for the first piece only, then she’ll start clawing at the Pita with those five inch fingernails. God help anybody who gets in the path of those bear-claws.”

We all laughed at that.

“Well, Stavros, at least I don’t eat with my hands and feet.” Marisa said laughing.

“Well I came prepared,” Stavros said, and pulled a small pocket jack-knife out of his pocket, and unfolded the tiny finger blade.”

“What are going to do, stab the Pita to death?” I asked.

“No,” Stavros said, “this is to keep you guys away from my food.”

This was another laughing out loud moment. These are the fun times, when       the siblings are all together, and everything is just right and flowing, it just doesn’t get any better than this. I wish they weren’t be so rare.

We were all pulled together that night by . . . wait a minute, where is she, where is Yiayia; methinks she’s away in the corner of another room just letting us have one of these unexpected too, too, rare moments.

Then in the room walked Yiayia.

“Hi Mah,” we all said, with the usual greetings, and kisses, and hugs.

We chatted for a while, then she said, for us to all go in the kitchen, and she’ll bring in the surprise, which she’s been talking about. We all sat at the table in front of our plates, empty plates. There is no Pita in sight; we just sat for a moment, waiting for Yiayia, looking around with shrugged shoulders, as if to say – what gives. The other shoe was about to drop.

Yiayia came up to the table, and very carefully put down the object of mystery we all were eager to see, and then she sat down at the head of the table, didn’t say anything, just watched.

We all stared at the center of the table.

I spoke first: “do you see what I see?” I asked the others.

“I don’t believe it” Marisa said.

“Mah, where . . . how . . .” Stavros sputtered.

Yiayia said nothing, just watched our reactions.

Sitting in the middle of the table was a bowl, a beautiful glass bowl, bespeckled with faux colorful jewelry. It was the notorious, one of a kind, Yiayia’s Glass Punch Bowl, which the three of us siblings, in the past, had sent to Punch Bowl heaven. It was back. We had been told no other existed. Okay, we all thought, she found a copy some place. Still it was eerie. And the Spanakopita was in the punch bowl. What was that all about?

“Mah, where did you find another Punch Bowl like . . .,” not knowing how to put it without incriminating myself, again, “like the other one that crashed?”

Yiayia said nothing, just watched.

“Mah, don’t tell us you found this anywhere around here, you said you bought this, one of a kind Glass bowl, in Greece or Egypt or someplace like that.” Marisa suspiciously chimed in.

Yiayia said nothing, just watched.

“Oh, I don’t like this. This is beginning to look like Mom’s black magic stuff. Marisa said.

Yiayia said nothing, just watched, with a little smile.

I broke in and said what I thought everyone was thinking, “It’s those accursed Teddy Bears. They’re behind this.”

Stavros’ eyes rolled, as he said, “Donnie, are you listening to yourself. They’re going to put you away some day. You’re nuts.”

“What about last week, how did she shovel the all that snow, I was there I saw the pictures, they shoveled the snow for her.” I said, not really sure I had just said that.

“All right, I’m going to call someone, you need help. You’ve been spending too much time writing in your own little worlds. You’ve lost your grasp on reality.” Stavros said.

Yiayia said nothing, just kept smirking, and nodding, like she had knowledge of something, a she was sharing a joke between her and God.

Stavros took a more direct approach, covered all bases, “Mah, why is the Pita in the Punch Bowl? And, remember, shaking his head, if this is some kind of punishment, Donnie’s the one who broke it.”

That tore it.

“Well, yes, after all it was you Donnie, who pushed it off the table.” Wide eyed Marisa said, scared of what was coming next.

I looked at Marisa, “Why you little . . . .”

“Andoni,” Yiayia scowled, and scanned a warning at me.

“Mah, it was an accident, and how would they know anyway, they ran for the hills like cats on fire. I’m the guy who stood up.”

“Yeah, that’s only because she caught you with the goods in your hands.” Stavros said.

“As I remember it, you weren’t standing up, you were on your knees,” Marisa said.

I didn’t speak, my glasses fogged up, and I sneered at her.

Now, my good readers, you may be asking yourself, as I am, where’s the love? It was there a moment ago.

The next few moments were quiet. Yiayia kept her vigil of nodding her head and smirking, but saying nothing.

 

Then Yiayia broke her silence, and said, “Are you all through? Do you understand now? Do you realize what just happened? How you acted in the living room, and now how you’ve acted in here? Do You?”

These were more Yiayia mysticisms. The kind you really don’t have an answer for, but really think about finding one. Maybe, it’s the idea that we three are different and always will be, but are one at the same time, and share a very great love in spite of our differences, and that we should always remember that.

I guess that meaning was somewhere in what Yiayia said next, in her own Yiayia speak.

“You are to leave my Glass bowl alone, and don’t touch my things.” She looked at all three of us. “Do you understand me?”mystery punch B

We all became twelve years of age, all at the same time, and answered in unison – “Yes, Mother.”

“Now go ahead, and eat your Spanakopita,” Yiayia said.

“But Mah,” Marisa said, in a squeaking voice, the Pita is in the bowl.”

“That’s Okay,” Yiayia said; I did that for a purpose, you can touch the Glass Bowl, just this once to get your Pita. She shook her head, go ahead, it won’t bite.”

We weren’t altogether sure of that. We just sat for a second, and inspected the return of Yiayia’s mysterious Glass Punch Bowl with Spanakopita in it. It still wasn’t explained to us how it came back. So, we cautiously sat, observed, and waited for one of us to be the first to reach for the bowl and lift its lid.

In the end, Pita is still Pita.

———————————————————————————————————-

NEXT WEEK —– VALINTINE’S DAY WITH YIAYIA

.

SHARE THIS:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

YIAYIA’S LITTLE HELPERS

 

“Andoni, what’s wrong?” Yiayia asked over the phone.

“Nothing Mah, just a down day, thinking about all that snow we’re supposed to get tonight. If we get what they say we’ll get we’ll be snowed-in until spring.” I answered.

“Well, didn’t I tell you, did you listen to me – no.”

“That was two months ago Mah, they said we’d have a light winter.”

“Andoni, that’s not the point, you didn’t listen to me, did you?”

“I know Mah; me, and all the meteorologists in the world forgot about your telepathy into the future.”

“Yes, I know, and now you’re running around looking for shovels, and rock-salt, and phone numbers for people to plow, and it’s making you depressed.”

“Yes Mother, but it’s not just me, I’ll have to shovel over your house too. I know my Son is there with you, and he’s a giant, but even a giant will need help shoveling the amount of snow their talking about, and if I can’t get there right away you’ll be stuck inside, stranded, and I know you, you want to be out.

“First of all, this is my house, and I like it in here, and Kostaki isn’t going to be shoveling anything. He hurt his back falling off the roof.” Yiayia said.

“What? What was my Son doing on the roof? Mah, now I don’t understand, this is depressing.” I said, shaking my head.

“I asked him to go fix the heater, and take down some Christmas decorations.” Yiayia said.

“The heater? Mom, the heater is in the basement, I mean . . . how . . . why . . . wait-a-minute – I don’t want to know. I’m sure you had a good reason for telling your Grandson to go up on the roof. Is he alright?”

“Yes, he’s fine,”

“Did he get the decorations down?”

“He’ll get the decorations next week. He’s here with me, watching the weather channel. And, he fixed the heater; and its working fine now. He’s a good boy. Do you want to speak with him?”

“Not now Mom, I’m confused enough.” I said, shaking my head, and wondering what was I going to do if we get that snow. “Okay, look, you and Kostaki, sit tight tomorrow, and as soon as I get dug out, I’ll come by, and we’ll figure something out. I think I can get a couple of friends to come over if I bribe them with some of your Pita; that is if they can get out of their driveways. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Mah. And think; No Snow!

“Yeahsure, Andoni, we’ll be fine, I have friends too you know, you go take an aspirin for your depression, let me worry about the snow.”

 

That night it snowed like crazy. Blizzard didn’t begin to describe what was happening out my window. It just wouldn’t stop, buckets at time. I kept watching out the window, and hoping anytime now it would slow down; it was as if the snow Gods had heard me, and decided to have a little fun with this stupid mortal. I could hear their laughter as they said: ‘let’s drop a mountain of snow on him and watch him keel over the next day trying to shovel’.

There was no surprise the next morning when everything was buried in white. That’s just great, I thought. The clock was ticking, I knew I had to get unburied, and in a hurry before Yiayia try’s something nuts like . . . .

Friends to the rescue, I couldn’t believe it, something was going right in a world I had been convinced was ending the night before. With the help of two crazy friends, and one very big, gas-hungry snow blower; we got out, just barely, and wasted no time in getting to Yiayia’s house. Past the snow-drifts, and getting stuck twice, we pulled around the corner, at higher than safe speeds to not waste time, and come to the rescue of little Yiayia.

That’s a laugh, rescue little Yiayia, when did Yiayia ever need any rescuing. The truth is she rescues everybody else. Well, maybe she didn’t need any rescuing, but right about now I could’ve use some. I sat in the passenger’s seat, shocked, dazed, and totally confused at what I was staring at. yiayiapats The house had been very neatly, shoveled out, even the driveway was two-car ready, and Yiayia stood in the front yard in her winter coat, scarf, mittens, and boots, shovel in hand, and smiling at me as if to say; what took you so long.

“Mom, what the hell . . .” I shouted.

“Andoni, shush, don’t raise your voice to me.” Yiayia said.

“Mom did you do this?”

“Of course, Zon, I wasn’t going to wait for you.”

My two friends had their mouths wide open, looking expressionless.

“Andoni, tell your friends to stop looking like monkeys, and go inside for some Pita.

They heard that. They had eaten Yiayia’s Spanakopita in the past. Before I had a chance to tell them anything they were out of the truck, smiling and thanking Yiayia, while they hurried inside. They knew better than to try, and figure out this mystery; they knew Yiayia.

“Mom, you didn’t do all this alone, did you?” As crazy as me even asking that question, it was crazier that I knew deep inside, that yes, she probably did.

She just smiled, and said, “Yes, I did, now go inside before the Pita gets cold.”

She was right, no more questions, it’s too mindboggling, it was much easier and safer to adopt the attitude my friends took. I’ll take hot Pita any day over a headache, and that’s just what I’d get if I kept thinking on this.

 

Being Son of Yiayia has given me some of my own powers, and I was able to get to the bottom of this mystery, and find the answer. Of course; as I thought, she had help, she finally admitted it.

Though now I see it was a big mistake to peruse the answer.

She had admitted to having her, little helpers, as she calls them, shovel all night staying ahead of the storm. She said she was so proud of them she couldn’t help, but have her Grandson get my Fathers’ Polaroid camera out old storage, and take a picture of them for the refrigerator. She told me to take it down from the refrigerator for now, and give it to my Son, who would post it on Facebook for the whole world to see. And that’s when I got a good look at the photo.

You would think that after all the strange things, this Son of Yiayia has seen connected with Yiayia; that I would’ve learned to just accept, and not question. But no, inquiring minds just had to know. As my Mother always said to me: What possessed you? Well, I haven’t a clue, but now that I have seen the photo of Yiayias little helpers, I have to live with it and its implications.

                                                    I see years of therapy ahead

shovelbear0012

——————————————————————————————————————

SHARE THIS:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

YIAYIA SCOLDS CRAZY-BINGO-LADY

“Mah, that Avgolemeno soup was fantastic, every time perfect. I’ll jar the rest of this up, and bring it home for Gabriella.” I said.

“Yeahsure, poor Gabriella, the soup will never make it home. You give half of that to me, and I’ll put it in a jar for Gabriella, she’s coming by this afternoon, were going out to lunch for Chinese food.” Yiayia, said.

“Oh, I didn’t know we were having Chinese food . . .”

“No. Not we, just Gabriella, my friend, and me. You take your half of the Avgolemeno, and go. You go home, and do your writing.”

I reached for the jar of Avgolemeno.

“Wait a minute, Andoni, what a minute.” Yiayia took the jar from me so gently, and carefully, like it was antidote for Ebola, (Avgolemeno, who knows, maybe), wrapped it up in a paper bag with two elastics to keep it in place. “There, now take it.”

Now that the Yiayia secure wrap had been done, and inspected, I could leave. “Ah, this will make a nice hot lunch for me later.” I said.

. “Yeahsure, you’ll be lucky if you make it past the beach down the street. I know you, Andoni; you’ll park at the beach and drink it cold, like a Zon.”

Just then a car drove up the driveway. “Mah, it looks like your friend is here. Oh my, it’s your crazy-bingo-lady friend, what, you haven’t had enough of her yet?” I asked.

“Andoni, settle down. I invited Thulas to go to the Dragon claw with Gabriella and me. But, I want to talk with her first, so you go.” Yiayia said.

Thulas, I thought, what a name, sounds like river in Egypt; but hey, a crazy name for a crazy lady. “Okay, Okay, I’m leaving, I made sure I took my securely sealed Avgolemeno, and left the back way.

 

 

Outside, I hung around just long enough to chat good day with the neighbor. All along I kept an eye on the kitchen window where I could see inside; Yiayia, and her crazy-friend Thulas were sitting down at the table with cups of coffee. I’d seen this before, Yiayia was getting ready to have serious one on one with Crazy-bingo-lady, Thulas. These Yiayia chats, especially with café and cookies, have been known to change lives, not always for the better. I’m sure she got helping heap of Yiayia’s indignation, and to keep her hands off my Avgolemeno. Off I went home, and figured I’d hear what happened later from Gabriela.kitchen thula0007

Hours later I was relaxed doing some writing when my train of thought was interrupted by the phone ring.

“Hello, Gabriella? I can’t hear you, whose yelling?” I said.

“Donnie; it’s pandemonium down here, we just got out of the Dragon claw restaurant . . . Oh my God,” and Gabriella started hysterically laughing.

I heard some yelling, commotion, laughter, a foreign language, Yiayia shouting. I put the phone on speaker even though no one else was in the room to hear. I wanted the full effect of this encounter. Needed my hands free just in case I needed to start talking with my hands to make a point.

“Gabriella, where are you guys now?” I asked.

“We’re parked outside of the Aaian restaurant, I can’t believe this,” Gabriella laughed. “The owner is outside the restaurant on the sidewalk yelling at Thulas, in the passenger seat.”

My hands started moving around, “What? Tell me what’s happening, tell me women.” It was as tense as a watching one of Brady’s deflated pigskins spiral 60 yards through the air at the receiver standing well in the end zone.

“It seems, Thula made off with all the soy-sauce packets, the salt and pepper shakers, looks like she took all the sweet & low packets as well.” She was laughing so hard. “Donnie, her huge pocket book is full, I see forks . . . in there too. Listen, to this.”

She held out her cell phone in the car.

I found it hard to listen at first; everyone was talking at once, and through Gabriella’s laughing.

“Lady, you give me back my shakers. Why you take my shakers and forks, I want my all stuff you take. You bad crazy women, you nuts,” Yelled the restaurateur, while Yiayia was trying to reason with Thulas.

“Thulas, what did you do, I don’t believe it. Did you take those things, why? Yiayia demanded.

I was hopping up and down in the background, couldn’t just talk with hands anymore I had to put in my two cents. I started yelling from my living room into my cell phone. “She’s crazy Mah, I told you, she’s nuts. Go get her, give it to her.”

“Drive! Just Drive, quick, drive away now,” Thulas, yelled at Yiayia.” “What’s wrong with you Thulas,” My mother asked. “The man is standing there accusing you of taking his shakers, and other stuff, how could you do that.”

It was difficult to hear all that was going on through Gabriella’s unbelievable laughter.

“What’s wrong with you bad lady, crazy woman, give me back

. . . you stole everyting – I work hard – you no good, give me back or I call po-lice.” The Owner said.

Through the Asian gentleman’s rant I kept hearing Thula shout to Yiayia to go ahead, and drive, she kept yelling let’s get out of here.

With that I felt I had to chime in again.

“Mah, don’t go anywhere for that crazo-nut-bag, kick her out the car onto the sidewalk, feed her to the Angry Asian, let him take care of her.”

By now I wasn’t sitting anymore, I was up and around pacing the floor with my arms pontificating in the air. “Andoni, σκάσε” (shut up).Yiayia shouts over the phone. Yiayia turned and looked at Thula. “You σκάσε too, Thula. What is wrong with you, this man is working hard, look how upset he is, you stole money from him. Now I’m going to open this window, and you’re going to give everything back, and apologize.

The passenger window went down.chinese0006

“You give me lady, everyting, I call po-lice.”

Thula reluctantly gives everything back, and looks down apologetically. “Yiayia looked out the window at the restaurateur, and said, “we’re very sorry, please . . . she’s not well, she’s sick. I love your food, and come here all the time. I used to come here with my husband, now he’s gone. He used to love your food, and your whole restaurant.”

“Oh-kay lady, oh-kay, I remember you, you oh-kay, but you no bring this nut with you anymore. She is sick in head. No more in my store.”

“Mah, did you let her off the hook, I can be down there in ten minutes.” I shouted over the phone.

I heard two things Gabriella’s laughing, and my Mother saying, “Zon, σκάσε,” again telling me to shut up, then I heard nothing, the phone went dead. I suppose Gabriella was laughing too hard to say goodbye, she just hung up.

Well, It’s over. Like listening to an exciting play by play heavy-weight bout, then it’s over, a quick K.O., in the third, just when things were getting hot. I’ll get the instant replays when Gabriella gets home.

Now what I need to do is just relax . . . with a nice hot cup of Avgolemeno soup, that would hit the spot right about now.

Yes, I know, but Yiayia was right, she’s always right. The Avgolemeno soup never made it home. I found myself watching the seagulls at the beach while drinking the jar of cold Avgolemeno soup. But that’s our secret.

SHARE THIS:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

AVGOLEMENO WARS

Some small background information first. Avgolemeno is a Greek lemon and egg soup. That would be the quick and easy description; an American translation that doesn’t begin to describe the true delicacies and mysteries of this potent and delicious soup. It has been said to have healing properties; it’s been referred to as an elixir, a restorative potion, Greek penicillin. A scrumptious and appetizing cure all. And I, Son of Yiayia, can attest to all of these and more, and mostly how it’s just plain – as I called it when I was a kid – yummy.

Of course the trick – there’s always a trick – is in the preparation. You don’t just throw a bunch of lemons and eggs in big pot of water. It’s a delicate precision, timing, special ingredients, and its top component is the gentle and tender love and care of the preparer. Top chefs, bistro aficionados all try their best, and assuredly many produce very good results; although the very best, and guaranteed to reach the very height of taste and proficiency of this miraculous soup, is of course, non-other than . . . Yiayia.

With the steady hands of a neurosurgeon, and the qualities of an artist, Yiayia doesn’t just cook, but creates an Avgolemeno to die for, and with my favorite special ingredient – Orzo, a small rice-shaped pasta, instead of just plain rice, to me that makes all the difference. There are those who love the rice instead in their Avgolemeno, but not for me. The Orzo gives a fuller, more wholesome body to the soup. Another group even prefers meat balls in the soup – for shame. I suppose those Avgolemeno wars will continue for centuries. In my mind Orzo has won, besides I’ve been hankering for a hot cup of Yiayia’s special Avgolemeno soup, especially in this sub-zero cold snap we were having, for over three months now I’ve been trying to get her to cook this soup. My wife, my Sister and my daughter all do a good job in making the soup; Yiayia had taught them well, but I think Yiayia hadn’t revealed all the secrets yet, because they still don’t have the fine-tuning down like Yiayia. The last two times I asked my Mother to make this soup, something would always come up, and she was too busy, but now I have a plan . . . .

 

“I picked up my cell phone, and punched some numbers.

“Yes,” an affectionate voice answers.

“Mah, it’s me,” I said.

“Andoni?” Yiayia asks.

“Yeah, Mah, how are you? Everything ok?”

“Yeah-good, I’m trying to make some lunch, how about you?”

“Okay, I guess, I’m just so cold, it’s cold out today. Are you cold? I ask.

“No? It’s not too bad today.”

“Oh, maybe it’s just this bug I got. I have this cold from hell, stuffy nose, can’t sleep, been taking aspirins, and this medicine the doctor gave me – nothing works.”

“Oh-oh, are you feeling achy too?” Yiayia asks.

“It’s terrible Mah, my head, my joints all hurt, and my stomach. And I’m always cold.”

“Andoni, did you take your vitamins? Are you eating fruit, a banana? Andoni, I told you, you have to eat more fruit. How many times have I told you that?”

Here it comes, the Yiayia – I told you so, but I expected that, it’ll all be worth it if . . . .

“Andoni, I told you many times, you have to eat your banana, and an apple, and drink plenty of water.”

“I know Mother, you did, but I tried, and it didn’t work. I’m so cold.”

“Hmm, you know what you need?”

Say it Mah, come-on, I know you can do it.

“You need some good hot . . . Avgolemeno soup.”

YES!

“With Orzo?”

“Oh, yes, I know that’s your favorite,” Yiayia said. Andoni, it’s still early, I can make some for tonight, but will you feel better to come over later? You can pick it up tomorrow.”

“No, no . . . I think I can make it Mah, do you need anything at the store, any Orzo?”

“I have everything I need.” Yiayia assured me.

Of course, what was I thinking? Yiayia is always prepared, like the boy scouts. Her kitchen cabinets look like the well-stocked shelves of a grocery store. Just checking though, It would be such a disaster, after all this imaginative planning, to be served a hot piping cup of Avgolemeno soup – without Orzo. I shudder at the thought.

“Okay Mom, I’ll be there in a few hours,” and like Pavlov’s dogs, I began to drool.

 

Hours later, I bundled up, and headed for Yiayia’s house. I wanted to give her plenty of time to perform her magic, and stay out of the way. Making this soup is a day affair, not like opening up a can of chicken soup, and there you are in two minutes flat.

When I arrived in Yiayia’s house the aroma was amazing.yiayiasoup0013 I took off my coat, hat, and gloves then sat in front of the TV as instructed, and waited . . . .

That really didn’t last long, the smells from the kitchen pulled me in to investigate.

“Get away from there,” Yiayia warned, “It’s not done yet. Go inside and wait. Go watch what’s-his-name on TV.”

I went inside to watch what’s-his-name on TV, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Another salivating hour later, Yiayia calls me to the kitchen to give the taste test. This is the part I’ve always disliked since I was a child, because it’s a big tease. It’s almost cruel and unusual punishment, like giving a dehydrated man in a desert a spoonful of water, then running away; but I do what I must. I went into the kitchen, and put on a summer lobster bib, yes a bib, I’ve worn it before, in situations like this you never know what’s going to happen.

“Oh my God, Mah, it’s perfect. You did it again,” I said, while I looked down in the pot, and observed how thick, rich, and lemony-yellow this soup had turned out. Praise – it was like being in church.

“Good, now go back inside,” Yiayia said.

“But Mah, it’s ready I tell you. Please.”

“Zon,” she shooed me go back inside, “it needs another half-hour more.”

I lumbered back into the living-room, but at least I had the bib on, it made me feel better, like I was ready for action. For now I’ll just sit in the living room in Yiayia’s throne chair, with my bib on, and watch what’s-his-name.

 

Then – it happened – so fast – so cruel.

There was a knock at the door. It was one of Yiayia’s long-time crazy bingo buddies. I’ve known her for years, and she’s certifiable, a real Nut. She said hello, I said, hello, but I felt tense; this lady was unstable, and just what was crazy-bingo-lady doing here?

“Hi Donnie,” crazy-bingo-lady said, and smiled; “I see you’re getting ready for Mom’s Avgolemeno. She told me all about it.

Of course, one Yiayia’s favorite past times is to inform the world of what I’m doing.

Crazy-bingo-lady stood staring at me, like she’s never seen a grown man in a bib before. “I’m here to pick up a pot of that wonderful bean soup your Mother made yesterday for the bingo game tomorrow, she said she couldn’t go.” Then she frowned with concern, “I heard you weren’t feeling too well. You eat your Avgolemeno, and that’ll make you feel better.”

I smiled, yes, I thought, I’ll start feeling better as soon as you leave.

Yiayia called her in the kitchen, and said she needed some help packing the soup. They chatted for a minute or two, and then crazy-bingo-lady left with the pot of bean soup wrapped up tight in a bag.

As soon as she walked out the door, I made sure it was shut and locked so she couldn’t get back in. I waited until her car left the driveway then shut the outside light, so as not to encourage any more intruders walking around. I had serious business at hand – my Avgolemeno soup was waiting.

Yiayia was sitting in the other room viewing her Facebook. She yelled out that the Avgolemeno was ready, and to help myself. That’s all I needed to hear. I walked into the kitchen, got my bowl, and an over-sized spoon Yiayia kept in the silverware draw, and went over to the stove to prepare for a hot bowl of Avgolemeno magic.

Now you can guess what happened next, the end of dream, and the beginning of a nightmare.

With anticipation, I gently reached over, took off the pot-cover, and stared into a pot of cold bean soup. I stood shocked into frozen time.

“Mother,” I yelled.

This couldn’t be. It took me a minute to realize what just happened. I knew it; I knew I should’ve checked her bag before she left the house. She’s crazy, and crazy people do crazy things.

“Mother,” I checked all around the kitchen, and in the fridge just to make sure the Avgolemeno was gone. Yup, crazy-bingo-lady had put the pot of Avgolemeno soup in the bag. A mistake? But how . . . I mean didn’t she feel the pot was hot . . . I don’t trust her.

Yiayia came in the kitchen wondering what all the commotion was all about. “Andoni, what’s wrong?”

“Mother, your crazy-fruitcake-friend just stole my Avgolemeno.”

“What, she didn’t.” Yiayia laughed.

“Oh yes she did. She’s a nut. Why do you have nut-bags for friends? Why do you always take pity on the nut-jobs?

Yiayia laughed again, “I take pity on you too. She’s crazy, you know that,” and shook her head.

“Yeah, but Mah . . .”

“All right, Andoni, it was a mistake. She’s like that, she didn’t mean any harm. Now you calm down. I can make some more tomorrow.” She patted me on the arm, and gave me a kiss and a mother’s assuring hug. “Now you just forget about it. You know, you look a little run down. I want you to eat some fruit, and drink some water, and just forget about this. I’ll make some more soup tomorrow. And when I see her again, I’ll tell her she’s crazy, and she needs help.”

We were certainly on the same page with that. Yiayia went back to her Facebook, probably to tell the world what just happened. Me; I was still in Avgolemeno shock, and left standing in the kitchen with my bib, a glass of water, and a banana. Better than nothing – I guess. donniebana0006

SHARE THIS:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

YIAYIA GETS PULLED OVER FOR SPEEDING

A beautiful afternoon with nothing to do, but reach for that cold can of beer, another barbeque chip, and tune into my favorite radio station. The most pressing task ahead was not letting the chicken get too well done on the grill; no one around, no kids, no animals, just an outstanding summer blue sky – the perfect day.

Or so I thought.

The phone rings.

“Hello,” I answered yawing.

“Andoni, can you please come down here right now, and pick me.” Yiayia said.

I gave a sorrowful goodbye glance at my barbeque chicken, looked up and             a cloud rolling in. “Mom? Where are you?”

“I’m in jail”

“What?”

“I was going to Aunt Mary’s, you know today I pick her up for bingo; you remember how every third of the month . . .”

“Mom . . . wait a minute, what’s going on, where are you?”

“I just told you, Zon, I’m in jail, come pick me. Here, talk to Policeman.”

“Hello, this is officer Wollensky, I believe you’re this lady’s son, Antwon?”

“Yes officer, well, no, it’s Andoni . . . Donnie, but can you please tell what’s going on?”

“Antwon, I clocked your Mother going 65 miles an hour, in a 30 mile an hour zone. I pulled her over checked her ID, and told her to please follow me to the station. She said she was sorry, agreed, that she was late for bingo, and didn’t realize she was speeding, then drove off in the opposite direction. My partner and I followed her, and stopped her again, and this time she became a little difficult.”

Difficult, I thought, who, my Mother – never.

I hung on to my phone listening. I was speechless; not quite sure how to respond. Was this for real, or had I been thrown back into a Twilight Zone episode. No, Punked, that’s it, I’m being punked, and it must be a joke, most likely one of my kids or nephews.

Crazy kids, I’m on to them. I became a little sassy, “So, Officer Wollensky, tell me,” I said with a smile, “What is your real name, and put my nephew on the phone, tell him he’s gone too far, and this is no longer funny.”

I could hear my Mother in the background raising her voice, saying her Grandson, Jaylin, knows President Obama. Then I could hear Officer Wollensky’s tone change to a lower octave.

“Mr. Antwon, this is no joke, and frankly, this is no place for your Mother, please come down to the Bradford Police Station as soon as you can, Thank you.”

Officer Wollensky’s call ended, and so did my smile, now I knew I was in a Twilight Zone Episode.

I had no idea what was going on, rang up Aunt Mary’s, but there was no answer. I darted off thinking the worse. I always think the worse, it’s my job, Yiayia taught me. What if Yiayia went off on the police? What if she was hurt? She didn’t sound hurt, just sounded like Yiayia. That could mean anything. I could find her in jail, with real hoodlums. Knowing Yiayia I’m surprised they didn’t call out the swat team. Yiayia, dear Mother of mine, can get really feisty at times.

It took me almost an hour-and-a-half to get there. Taking three wrong turns, having to stop for gas, driving over some very rough roads with enough bumps I sure did wonders for my tires; one already slowly leaking.

I pulled into the Station parking lot with a flat tire. First thing I noticed was Yiayia’s car with the trunk open, and no sign of Yiayia. I ran up to the front desk. A Sargent Janet Davies was at the window.

“Excuse me Sargent Davies, my name is Donnie . . .”

“Oh, you mean Antwon,” she gave me a big smile.

“Kind of,” I said, getting a little tired of being called Antwon.

She laughed, “I mean Donnie; we’ve been waiting for you.”

“I hit a little traffic,” didn’t want to admit I couldn’t find the Police Station in the city I was born in. “Do you know where my Mother is, is she alright?” I asked.

“Oh Yiayia’s just fine.”

Yiayia?

“She’s down the hall in the cafeteria. You’ll find Officer Wollensky, Chief Summers, some of off-duty cops, and I think the Mayor dropped as well. Let me tell you – shaking her head with a big grin – your Mother is a real card, she’s too much.” I’d heard that before.

“Thank you,” I said with a faint smile. I had the feeling that I had left the Twilight Zone, and now deep into a One Step Beyond Episode, and it had a Spanakopita smell to it.

As I approached the cafeteria I could hear laughter, and there in center of the room stood Yiayia telling everybody about our last family Thanksgiving, and how I drove back almost a hundred miles to get the forgotten Pita. Oh, this is different, Great, Mah. I stepped forward into the crowded cafeteria upon gales of laughter and applause, with a not an unfamiliar look of shock and awe; a far too often common occurrence with Yiayia situations. They even gave her a cap like she was the cop of the day.police yiayia0007

“Hey it’s him,” someone shouted. Heads turned like I was a celebrity, mine also, looking for the celebrity. Then I realized they were looking at me. A room full of police officers looking at me. It brought to mind the movie Frankenstein, where the entire town’s people were holding torches and rakes to get the Monster. I made a half turn to run, then understood they were all smiling, holding little paper plates of Spanakopita, and intoxicated by its aroma. They were gorging down on three large trays Yiayia had gotten from trunk of her car, meant for the Church bingo game, and reheated them in the police kitchen.

“Andoni, come over here, say hello to the nice policemen,” Yiayia said.

I walked slowly and carefully, as if moving through a group of Zombies.

“Mother?” I asked, looking for some explanation, and knowing none would be coming, but I gave it a shot.

“Andoni this is Jeff Wollensky, I knew him and his brother. They used to cut the grass at my house when they were children,” said Yiayia.

“Donnie,” Officer Wollensky said, “nice to meet you, sorry about that Antwon stuff, I didn’t understand your Mother at first with the Andoni name, sounded like Antoni.”

I shook his hand, and smiled, “no problem,” I said, thinking, Antwon from Andoni, he must be smoking some of that grass he was cutting as a kid.

Then I met everybody else: the Mayor who is Greek, and Mother of course voted for him, the Detectives who were on the case of, what Yiayia likes to call the Murder House, yet another story, and several off duty Police officers. After shaking many hands, I was still a little apprehensive, the other shoe hadn’t dropped.

I went over to Officer Wollensky and whispered, “Jeff, huh . . . about Mah and the speeding . . . .”

“Oh that was a just big misunderstanding, it’s all forgotten. Your Mother paid any and all fines with this Spanakopita; I mean . . . I have never tasted anything so . . . .”

He trailed off munching down on another hot piece of, as I saw it, could be my Pita.

A couple of Detectives came over chomping on more Pita, and told me not to worry, they had arranged to take Yiayia, and pick up Aunt Mary, to get them both to the Church on time for bingo. A small motorcycle escort was waiting outside.

motorcade0005Can you believe this?

I guess, the one saving grace in this whole nutty day would be those three little pieces of hot Pita on that last tray only two feet away from me. Not to be; Oficer, Jeff Wollensky, snatched up, like a wild vulture, the last three, then took hold of my outreached hand to thank me again. Yes, you’re very welcome, Jeff, that was the closest thing to my dinner outside of burnt chicken.

This day wasn’t just out of the ‘Twilight Zone’, but it was wrapped in a ‘One Step Beyond’, and tied neatly in an ‘Amazing Stories’ Episode for the ages. Yiayia wins out again, and I get to fix my flat, and head on home with no Pita once again. I wonder what kind of burnt offerings I had left on the grill. Too late, even that was gone – the Seagulls got their first.

 

———————————————————————————————————

NEXT WEEK, – THE AVGOLMENO WARS.

 

SHARE THIS:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail