|It's Not Easy Being Greek.|
Life is hard enough without having to deal with people screwing up my name on a daily basis.
I should be used to it. I'm Greek. I'm 100% Greek to be exact and I didn't necessarily grow up with the last name Smith or Jones..or even Pappas for that matter. When I met the man of my dreams, by the end of a very nice long chat at a Greek Festival where we met (go figure), I asked him his last name and he told me. It is 6 syllables. Not impossible, but a bit tricky.
He was so incredibly handsome and sweet, however, I would've signed up for 12 syllables. See, I was at that enamoured stage, giddy and full of hope, I didn't think to fast forward a few years to the daily stupidity of the common man. Every day, I hear one of the following statements/questions.
1. OH MY GAWWWD...HOW DO YOU SAYYYYY THAT?
2. Your poor kids, how will they ever learn to spell that?
3. Dear Lord! That is a long last name!
4. It must have taken you years to learn how to spell that!
It's hard, but 9 out of 10 times, I smile and answer the same things every time (while really wishing I could take out one of those "whack-a-mole" soft hammers from Chuck E. Sneeze and hit them over the head with it..)
1. Sound it out.
2. My children are smart, they will learn how I'm certain.
3. He is very handsome so I don't mind.
4. It actually took me about 5 minutes, to be honest.
Any of those above answers usually confuses them into wondering if I am being sarcastic or if they have offended me and the tend to shut it from there.
|Would it be so wrong to carry a Whack-an-Idiot soft-headed hammer?|
Looking back, it's never really been easy being Greek. I had dark and hairy, manly legs at 9 years old. As a cheerleader, I got many comments from the other girls as to why I looked like a monkey. Girls at 9 years old generally don't mince words or have a knack for being kind in their questioning. They want to know what they want to know, whether it scars you for life or not. That summer, we were on a cruise of the Greek Isles, where even though I was surrounded with other hairy greek kids, I finally took matters into my own hands, and took a disposable Bic to my shin - it was bloody, but beautiful. My legs were finally hairless.
But my dark hair grew in other places.
I had a moustache in fourth grade. My mom, who was born on the Greek island of Cyprus, was a bit old-fashioned. She felt I was too young for wax, so she had the brilliant idea to bleach my moustache blond using Jolen face bleach.
Here are the problems with that.
1. I now had a blond moustache instead of black one.
2. I had red blotches from where the bleach burned a hole in my skin above my lip.
I remember walking around imitating Hitler with my pointer finger over my upper lip. A popular little asshole that sat behind me, named Dave (who by the way is now a fat and bald asshole), got me to turn around and look at him as he imitated me with the Hitler lip. "What did you do, try to shave and cut yourself instead? That was pretty stupid!" (How clear that memory is to me is frightening, especially when I barely remember last night's dinner).
|Use jolen and make your black moustache blond.|
As if I didn't have enough going against me, I hit puberty at 10 years old. Now I was a 5'5" (and never grew another inch, except in the early 90s when I had 3 extra inches in satellite hair), hairy, chubby, big boobed greek girl.
I was a 32D. In FIFTH grade. Tell me, what is a girl supposed to do with those? How is a girl NOT going to get teased. It was like being the Dolly Parton of grade school - only she had a small waist, was blond and tiny. I was not. The boys tormented me daily asking me questions like, "do you ever camp in the mountains? or "can you touch your elbows together behind your back?"
|It's never ok to look like Dolly Parton in 5th grade.|
In 7th grade, while playing the dreaded Intramural sports, I was forced to participate in some kind of kickball/baserunner mutant fusion game. I was up to kick and I was determined to blast that ball into the outfield of the gymnasium and I did...I ran my heart out, just wanting to prove that I could do it...I could be a worth contributor to the team that picked me last! I'd show them! I ran and ran and ran...and just as I hit third base, I tripped and flew threw the air, my boobs cushioning my fall and sliding in me just shy of home plate. I was so humiliated that I laid there face down, arms out 2 feet away from home plate, and lost the game for the team. I became known as the greek Pete Rose...sliding into home, but stopping just short. It was painful...but I made it through even that torment.
|Only I stopped sliding just short of home....just another humiliating day being me in Junior High.|
In high school, the Greek jokes really gained momentum. Hey, want some baklava? Hey, are you having Gyros for lunch?...What are you stupid or something? Easter was last week! You're a freak! By some miracle of God, I survived High School...I was everyone's friend and nobody's prom date. I did end up going to prom with the son of my mom's good greek friend..he was kind to me and didn't mind that my hair and dress took up most of the room in our prom photo, leaving room for only his left eye and partial forced smile. Good times.
When I left home for college, I realized that it was not normal to eat a pound of butter a day and a gallon of cream a week. I lost weight just by eating normal food. Instead of gaining the freshman 15, I lost 15 pounds in the first year of school. I had discovered wax, tweezers, hair removal in general, and dieting leaving me finally as the Swan after a long run as the ugly duckling. I got older, the Greek jokes kept on, but on a more adult level. I didn't mind them so much.
The best run I ever had of being Greek was the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. All of a sudden people were coming up to me daily asking me if I saw the movie, if my life was like the movie, and speaking to me through random quotes from the movie. It was great! Finally it wasn't so misunderstood being Greek. The Greeks held the Olympics and catapulted us into the spotlight again with a magnificent show both for the opening and closing ceremonies..we were on a roll! Then the Greeks went and f-d up their entire financial system and nearly took the Global Economy with them..then it wasn't so cool to be greek anymore.
|He don't eat no meat? That's ok, I make Lamb.|
These days, I am right back where I started, though on a different level. When people find out I am greek they almost always ask, "oh, do you know how to make that spinach pie with that phyllo and stuff? I lovvvvve that!" Yes! We eat Spinach Pie and Gyros every night for dinner, followed by Baklava for dessert...every- single -day! People mean well but come one with the stereotypes would you?
My neighbor once sent us a Happy Passover card since we don't celebrate Easter on the same day as everyone else. Here's the 411 people: we go by a different calendar, that's all...ok, so most times we get to buy our Easter basket candy on clearance. We are not Jewish, we don't celebrate Passover. How was I supposed to kindly correct her? I still haven't, but when I go over to visit, I wear a Flava-Flav sized Cross around my neck. I love Jesus...get the picture neighbor???
|Nothing says, I'm not Jewish like a big FlavaFlav size cross around my neck....Please stop sending me Passover cards.|
Just wanted you to know - it's not easy, being Greek. Well, it's Saturday, so naturally, I'm off to a Greek Nightclub to break some plates and yell Opa now.
Big sweaty greek hugs!