"East Europe 2005-06" story # 5

Xania, Greece           September 22, 2005

I came to Greece because I wanted to get to know its culture.
     Kate P. came to Greece because she thought it would look good on her resume.
     She was a little girl from Hamilton, Ontario: a town where the young people mainly like to drink a lot of beer and smoke a lot of pot. They also say, "aboot," and "hou-oose," and end their questions with, "eh?" And if they're much like Kate, then they're really cool - and they drink a lo-o-ot of beer.
     She'd just earned her college degree in political science, and she accepted a job with Epi Xakamenakis on Crete helping to organize an international neurology conference. She didn't really know what she was getting herself into.
     She packed shining brown eyes that basked in her wise sense of humor; silky-soft, brown hair whose points reached only as far as her eyebrows; ovate cheeks and a big tongue; bad posture that relaxed as easily as the cool way she talked about everything; and - most importantly - her large CD collection, which ranged from Bob Dylan to Belle & Sebastien. "Bye, Mrs. P.," she said, "I'm going to Greece."
     Then, she met Epi. Her year-long, unpaid internship began. And she soon learned what she'd gotten herself into.
     Epi was an overweight, seventy-three-year-old "bachelor." Kate would not only be working for him but also residing in a small room in his apartment. Due to the heat, Epi never wore a shirt. He entertained Kate with stories of his past romances, which included flings he had while living in Paris and an intern he'd had several years ago who slept with him.
     But, this confident, young Canadian wouldn't let the overweight, seventy-three-year-old's charms distract her. She'd come to organize an international neurology conference! She researched what the heck neurology was on the internet, and she wrote letters to potential conference sponsors and potential conference speakers.
     In the meantime, Epi had other tasks for her. She brought him cream-filled, chocolate cakes from the magnificent Greek pastry shops. She accompanied him to the doctor. She drank coffee with him at beach restaurants every morning. Epi wasn't too concerned about his neurology conference.
     Kate was loving walking the hidden-away streets of square, dirty-white Crete apartment buildings. But, she couldn't speak Greek. All her time socializing was spent with Epi and his eighty-four-year-old friend.
     Then, one night, Kate met a fellow North American whose efforts at survival on Crete were more futile than hers. That was me. (Yay!) At the time, I was standing under the lights of the colorful Xania harbour, trying to sell travel story booklets to tourists. I had spent a lot of money making these booklets, but I successfully sold none before Kate convinced me to go drink with her. She was hanging out with the wrong crowd now, dang.
     The next day, she waited for me on the sidewalk steps of Epi's thin road. She took me with her to run a work errand. She was supposed to visit a printing office which was taking a long time to do some assignment for Epi. "I guess I'm just supposed to go there and intimidate them. I'm supposed to act tough," the small girl said cutely.
     We completed the day together by going for a night swim at a rock-protected cove. The water was spooky dark, but at least those little fish that nibble the legs of Crete bathers didn't bother us. Kate told me afterwards on the beach about her year of study in Helsinki, Finland. Her best friend had been a cool, Finnish lesbian whom everybody fell in love with, and they used to always go to a pizza bar together and watch hockey.
     Our Crete wanderings led us to the Gothic-style-red nightclub, "Mythos," the next day. This was where the Greeks go to hear rock music, and Kate and I loved the grungy Greek and international tunes. A bunch of Jagrmeister and beer helped to make our first kiss all the more magical and romantic.
     It was a breakthrough for Kate to be hanging out with someone within fifty years of her age. For me, it was great to kiss a really cool girl. We went back to the anarchists' squat together. We kind of fooled around a bit, waking up two people who'd been asleep in a bed next to us. We obnoxiously continued to fool around. Oh, man, I used to HATE it when my college roommate did that! That's why I thought the anarchists were going to throw me out.
     (note: but, Kate didn't forget about her boss! She made sure she got up and home before sunrise so Epi wouldn't worry.)
     The Canadian and I also got invited by a Greek friend for "raki," a shot of horrible-tasting, homemade liquor. (People on Crete are always inviting you for a "raki," eww.) And Kate took me to Epi's favorite place, Kalamaki Beach, where we swam way out in the clear sea to an island of rocks. One of my favorite memories of her was how her short hair fluffed straight up in the sea wind, as she laid on her beach towel.
     And the last time we hung out was really nice; we met at a bar. I drank wine, and she had a beer called "Mythos." (Everything in Greece is called, "Mythos.") It was one of those situations where we were just laughing and smiling and feeling good the whole easy time.
     Unfortunately, the next day, I decided I had to leave Greece. Almost nothing was working out for me there. I left the anarchists and Crete. I rode a boat to Italy, where I arrived with only a-hundred-and-twenty Euro's but also fond memories of Kate and raki and "Mythos" and "Mythos."
     About a week later, Kate made up her mind that she'd had enough of being Epi's intern. She was too young to be worrying about how something would look "on her resume." She wanted to be having fun, like when she was in Finland. And if she did find a job that would be good for her resume, she was too good a worker to deserve a poorly-run operation like Epi's. She took my advice to leave Epi but stay in Europe. She bought a ticket to Vienna, where she would look for work in a pub.
     She celebrated her independence from Epi by going out and drinking a lot of "Mythos." - or, wait, is that the nightclub? Her last night on Crete, she met a cool local guy with a skullet haircut and dreadlocks. He drove her around on his "moto," and she mocked him for how small it was. She went home with him and had fun, but this night she didn't get back to Epi's until after sunrise.
     ... Good luck in Vienna, Kate!

peace. - Modern Oddyseus.

Thanks to Sam & Yeoryia for the ride!
Much thanks to Babis, Adonis, Anna, Anyelik, Penelope, Big C, & all the squatters for the place to stay!

go to the previous story                                                                                   go to the next story

J. Breen's modern-o.com