My Athenian Tough Guy Columns


“Emil—a poet in black and white, as well as in Demotic Greek—and I laughed and scribbled our way through the composition of my four Manghes (‘Tough Guy’ ) Columns featuring the hapless Athenian duo of Harilaos and Lakis. The four pieces—‘Watch It! It’s Throwing Chairlegs!’ in addition to ‘I Have for His Fur Many Stitches,’ ‘Black & Cobwebless,’and ‘Where Goes This Violin’—which follow here, were largely responsible for the popularity of the first edition of Greek Unorthodox and have, mirabile dictu, gone on to an independent existence of their own on the internet.”—Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

Hapax Legomenon

By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

Cover of Greek Unorthodox: Bande à Parte & A Farewell to Ikaros. 
Cover of Greek Unorthodox: Bande à Parte & A Farewell to Ikaros.

2019 Boleman-Herring Weekly Hubris

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Hubris)—Summer 2024—Author’s Note: My collection of autobiographical essays (originally published, serially, in The Athenian Magazine: Greece’s English Language Monthly), Greek Unorthodox: Bande à Parte & A Farewell to Ikaros, was published in a second edition in 2006 by Cosmos Publishing/Greece in Print. The book is also still available for purchase through Amazon. The four short (but dense) essays that comprise this Summer 2024 column were written with the help of “My Last but Not Least Greek Husband,” late, Cephalonian/Cairene/Rhodesian photographer Emil Moriannidis, who served as a patient and inspired Beatrice (though I am certainly no Dante) throughout the decade of the 1980s in Athens.

Emil—a poet in black and white, as well as in Demotic Greek—and I laughed and scribbled our way through the composition of my four “Manghes (‘Tough Guy’) Columns” featuring the hapless Athenian duo of Harilaos and Lakis. The four pieces—“Watch It! It’s Throwing Chairlegs!” in addition to “I Have for His Fur Many Stitches,” “Black & Cobwebless,” and “Where Goes This Violin”—which follow here, were largely responsible for the popularity of the first edition of Greek Unorthodox and have, mirabile dictu, gone on to an independent existence of their own on the internet.

They are best appreciated by bi-lingual, Greek/English-speaking readers, but, even if you “have no Greek,” the essays will give you a feel for the richly idiomatic nature of Demotic Greek.

The author in her Lycabettus aerie. (Drawing by P. Standley.)
The author in her Lycabettus aerie. (Drawing by P. Standley/The Athenian Magazine.)

Watch It! It’s Throwing Chairlegs!

January 1985 The following conversation—in phonetic Greek, translated (literally) into English—is submitted as ample proof of why it’s still almost all Greek to me after years of struggling to master this language.

The Scene: A taverna at midday. Expensively dressed Harilaos has just sat down to a bountiful lunch when Lakis enters, looking haggard.

Harilaos: San ta hionia! Like the snows!

Lakis: Po, po! Kalos ta matiamou ta thio! Po, po! Welcome my eyes the two!

Harilaos: Ela na sou kano trapezee. Come to make you the table.

Lakis: Kala, tha tsibiso. Well, I’ll pinch.

(He looks at Harilaos’s suit and the full table in surprise.)

Lakis: Tee egineh, reh? Ta ‘piases? What’s happened, Babe? Did you grab them?

Harilaos: Ba, skizo stee thouliamou. Bah, I’m tearing at my work.

Lakis: Nomiza otee seh faganeh lahano. I thought that they ate you cabbage.

Harilaos: Neh, O Nikos pigeh na meh karfosee, ala to vrikameh. Yes, Nikos went to nail me, but we found them.

Lakis: Thilathee, ton lathoses? You mean you oiled him?

Harilaos: Ohee, kseris pos yineteh: to ena heree nivee to alo, keh ta thio to prosopo. No, you know how it happens: the one hand washes the other and, the two, the face.

Lakis: Proseheh ton: ineh vlima keh karfee. Watch out for him: he’s a missile and a nail.

Harilaos: Kala, mee fovaseh. Sto kato kato tis graftis, tha paro prika. Tee trehee meh ’sena? Well, don’t be afraid. At the bottom-bottom of the written, when I marry, I’ll get a dowry. What’s running with you?

Lakis: Imeh ptoma. Ekana kamakee sto Sindagma proï-proï. I’m a corpse. I made harpoon in Syntagma morning-morning.

Harilaos: Siga t’ avga. Katee trehee sta yiftika. Slowly the eggs. Something’s running in Gypsy-land.

Lakis: Egineh tis kakomiras, sou leo. Itaneh mia keh mou tin ethoseh. Tis alaxa ta fota omos. Beekes? It happened of the unfortunate woman, I tell you. There was one and she gave it to me. But I changed her lights. Did you get in?

Harilaos: Meh thoulevis . . .Then imeh ego yia tetia. Aravoniastika. You’re working me . . .I’m not for such. I’m engaged.

Lakis: Andeh, ee ora sou ee kalee. Tin patises keh ’see. Well, your hour the good. You’ve stepped on it, too.

Harilaos: Siga to varee peponee. Ee Garifalia ineh krisohera. Slowly the heavy melon. Carnation is a golden-hand.

Lakis: Po, po, kaïkes. Ta matia sou thekatessera meh aftin. Po, po, you’re burnt. Your eyes 14 with her.

Harilaos: Prosekseh pos milas! Tha yinomeh apo thio horia! Careful how you speak! We’ll become of two villages!

Lakis: Reh, touvlo, katseh sta avgasou na sou exigiso. Baby, Brick, sit on your eggs to explain to you.

Harilaos: Ego touvlo! Esee eeseh douvaree! I, a brick! You’re a wall!

Lakis: O, tora ta ’kana mouskema. Oh, now I’ve made them drenched.

Harilaos: Otee leteh yia ekinee to grafo sta palia mou ta papoutsia. Whateveryou say for her, I write them on my old shoes.

Lakis: Vreh denekeh, ta nomizmata sou eeneh kalpika. Ee Garifalia apo tin Hania then ehee mira ston ilio. Ehoun paree aera ta miala tou patera tis. You tin can, your coins are counterfeits. Carnation from Chania doesn’t have a fate in the sun. Her father’s brains have taken in air.

Harilaos: Kala, ap’ tin polee erhomeh keh stee korifee kanella. Ee Garifalia mou eeneh ap’ ti Kerkyra. Well, from the city I come, and at the top, cinnamon. My Carnation’s from Corfu.

Lakis: Eh, totes, na ziseteh san ta psila ta vouna. Eh, then, may you live like the tall mountains.

Harilaos: Par oleegon, tha ta kanomeh salata keh na fagothoumeh. By a little, we would have made them salad and eaten each other.

Lakis: Sigah to polielio. Imasteh kalee filee. Slowly the chandelier. We’re good friends.

Harilaos: Lipon, elah tin Kiriakee stous aravones mou. Well, come on Sunday to my engagements.

Lakis: Siga tora. Tha feeso to gamo na pao yia pournaria? Tha sou skaso ena mistiko: pandrevomeh tee Vavara ap’ ta Hania. Slowly now. I’m going to leave the wedding to go for shrubbery? I’ll explode you a secret: I’m marrying Barbara from Chania.

Harilaos: Andeh, pas keh ’see. Kremastikes. Tee tha yeenee meh to kamakee? Well, you go too. You’re hanged. What will happen with the harpoon?

Lakis: Mee fovaseh: tha ’ho to skeelo hortato keh to karvelee olokleero. Don’t be afraid: I’ll have the dog full and the whole loaf.

(They rise to leave, pulling on their raincoats.)

Lakis: Fevgoh, lipon. I’m leaving, then.

Harilaos: Na pas sto kalo. Go to the good.

Lakis: Proseheh! Reeknee kareklopothara! Watch it! It’s throwing chairlegs!

The friends narrowly escape a careening Autobianci. (Drawing: P. Standley.)
The friends narrowly escape a careening Autobianci. (Drawing by P. Standley/The Athenian Magazine.)

I Have for His Fur Many Stitches

August 1987 The following conversation picks up the story of Harilaos and Lakis where it left off in January 1985.

The Scene: Harilaos and Lakis, two manghes from Piraeus, emerge from the train station in Kifissia and make a beeline for the main commercial street. They run into Mitsos, who warmly embraces Harilaos.

Harilaos: Mitso, seh meletagameh kthes! Ston ourano seh yireva, keh stee yee seh vrika! Mitsos, we were studying you yesterday! In the sky I sought you and on the earth I found you!

Mitsos: Kalos ton Koumbaro! Pos apo ’tho? Welcome him Best Man! How from here?

Harilaos: Petikameh etho meh ton ilectrico apo ton Pirea yia na vroumeh mia epagelmatiki stegi pou naneh thiamberis, keh yinameh kotopoula ap’ tee zestee. Perimenoumeh ton Kirio Polithoro. We threw ourselves here with the electric from Piraeus to search for a passing-right-through professional roof and we’ve become chickens from the heat. We’re waiting for Mr. Polydoros.

Mitsos: Tha skasee mitee opou naneh. Ineh Englezos meh tin ora tou. He’ll explode nose wherever he is. He’s an Englishman with his hour.

Harilaos: A, apo ’tho O Lakis. Imasteh kolitee. Ah, from here Lakis. We’re well-glued.

(Suddenly, an Autobianci careers around the square and runs up onto the sidewalk and into a glass shop front. Harilaos pulls his friends back just in time. The driver falls out in a heap at their feet.)

Harilaos: To nou sou keh mas faganeh! Your brain and they’ve eaten us!

Lakis: Amanamanamanaman . . . to aftokinito egineh filo keh ftero! Amanamanamanaman . . . the car’s become leaf and feather!

Harilaos:Neh, neh, yalia karfia to ekaneh! Yes, yes, glass nails he did them!

Mitsos: Keh to magazee egineh kalokerino tora! Then to honevo. O othigos ineh ya thesimo! Ineh tavla apo to methisee! And the shop’s become summer now! I can’t digest it. The driver’s for tying! He’s a board from the drunkenness!

Harilaos: Phtoo . . . mee mas matiaxouv! Phtoo . . . may we not be (evil-)eyed!

Lakis: Phtoophtoo . . . ftiseh ton korfo sou! Afte ee mera paï kaka, psikra keh anapotha! Phtoophtoo . . . spit your chest! This day goes bad, chill, and upside-down!

(The police and an ambulance arrive and the three friends repair shakily to a nearby café. Two rounds of ouzos are ordered and Harilaos changes the subject.)

Harilaos: Keh the mou les, tee soï anthropos ineh aftos O Kirios Polithoros? And don’t tell me, what breed human is this Mr. Polydoros?

Mitsos: Po, po. Vgazee keh apo tee miga ksigee. Keh kitateh, mee ton valeteh fesee! Po, po. He gets fat out of the fly. And watch it—don’t put a fez on him!

Lakis: Ka . . . la! Tha ta vroumeh. Goooood! We’ll find them.

Harilaos: Keh the mou les, pos paï to triferon sou eteron imisee, Koumbareh? And don’t tell me, how goes your other tender half, Best Man?

Mitsos: Mee sizitas! Zee keh vasilevee ala ehee paree periferies; halaseh. Mee fovaseh omos. Then ta ’vapsa mavra. To thondaki mou ponaï yia tin Aglaïa. Thimaseh? Megalee yineka. Otan teen itha tee perasmenee ’vthomatha, mou ’figeh to kafasee. Meh travaï polee. Don’t discuss! She lives and rules, but she’s taken on some peripheries and she’s gone bad. Don’t fear, however. My little tooth hurts for Aglaïa. Remember her? A grand woman. When I saw her last week, my crate left me. She pulls me a lot.

Lakis: Kala, keh ayia afta! As milisoumeh yia thoulia. Etho karavia pnigoundeh keh ee varkoules armenizouneh. Aftos o anthropos tha erthee telos pandon? Ta nevra mou ineh fitilia! Good and saintly those! Let’s talk for business. Here boats are sinking and dinghies are sailing. Is this man end of everything going to come? My nerves are wicks!

(They order another round of ouzos.)

Mitsos: Ean sinfoniseteh, mee to theseteh skinee corthonee, mee sas kanee kamia koutsoukela. If you agree, don’t tie it rope cord, not to do you some bird droppings.

Lakis: Mee fovaseh. Tha ton kano kala. Eho keh yia tee gouna tou pola ramata. Don’t worry. I’ll do him well. I have for his fur many stitches.

Mitsos: Yiati? Why?

Lakis: Yia tou pontikou taftee. Ehee kapsee kosmo. Mee fovaseh omos. Mia tou kleftee, thio tou kleftee, tris keh ee kakee tou mera. Thioti O Theos agapaï keh to nikokiree. For the mouse’s ear. He’s burned people. Don’t fear, however. One of the thief, two of the thief; three and his bad day. Because God loves the thief but loves the owner, too.

(Mr. Polydoros now approaches. He is a portly, middle-aged gentleman with several gold teeth.)

Mitsos: Milia! Ean paree habaree otee ton koutsovolevo, tha yinomeh apo saranda horia horiates! Speech! If he takes it news that I’ve gossiped him, we’ll become from 40 villages villagers!

Harilaos: Lakee, kaneh coumando tora! Lakis, you make command now!

Lakis: Och, ego tha vgalo to fithee apo tee tripa? Och, am I going to take the snake out of the hole?

Mitsos: Yia kita katee palikaria tis fakis. Ego tha valo to nero sto avlakee. Ala ta matia tou lagou keh ala tees koukouvayas. Look at some brave young men of the lentil. I’ll put the water in the ditch. Other the eyes of the hare and other of the owl.

Harilaos: Mee les pola yia to nikee. Tha boumeh mesa. Mee mas gdisi. To polee polee tha thosoumeh ogthonda hiliathes to mina. Don’t say a lot for the rent. We’ll get inside. Don’t undress us. The much much to give 80 thousand a month.

Mr. Polydoros: Hilia signomee, pethia, pou argisa. Molis eklisa to magazee. A thousand sorries, children, that I was late. I just closed the shop.

Lakis: Phtoo, mas ekapses! Keh ihameh thesee to gaïthero thioti itan stou dialou tee mana keh nomizameh otee tha to nikiazameh. Tha sou kanoumeh minisee! Phtoo, you’ve burned us! And we’d tied the donkey because it was a devil’s mother and we thought we’d rent it. We’ll sue you!

Mr. Polydoros: Siga, tha mas kanis tee mouree kreas. Slowly, you’ll make our face meat!

Mitsos: Siga, pethia… Slowly, children…

Mr. Polydoros: Neh, ego then masaö… Yes, I don’t chew…

Harilaos: Afisteh to afta, afisteh to afta, telos pandon. Yia poso to ethoses? Leave these, leave these, end of everything. For how much did you give it?

Mr. Polydoros: Tria ekatomiria to mina. Filikee timee, eh? Three millions the month. Friendly price, eh?

Lakis: Po, po, mas koufanes tora! Po, po, you’ve deafened us now!

(At this juncture, the waiter comes up with the bill for their ouzos—3,000 drachmas. Lakis looks at the bill and then at the waiter.)

Lakis: Pos to evgales etsee? Tha fouskoses! Afta ineh metrimena. Tris to lathee. Tris to ksithee. Prepee va ineh eniakoses thrakmes to polee! How did you bring these out like this? You’ve inflated them! These are measured. Three the oil. Three the vinegar. It should be nine hundred drachmas the much!

Mr. Polydoros: (Stands and takes the bill grandly.) Grafta seh mena, keh pateh sto kalo! Write them to me, and go to the good!

Harilaos & Lakis, with children. (Drawing by P. Standley.)
Harilaos & Lakis, with children. (Drawing by P. Standley/The Athenian Magazine.)

Black & Cobwebless

March 1988 The following conversation represents yet another chapter in the continuing saga of Harilaos and Lakis, the ill-fated Piraeus manghes. After their Kifissia business scheme failed, they left for Frankfurt to buy taxis, returning just in time for the 1987/88 winter taxi strikes. Currently languishing idle while their resourceful wives, Carnation and Barbara, support the families by selling sexy underwear at “Tupperware Parties,” the increasingly portly men of the house are compelled to take the children to the park every afternoon while Carnation and Barbara display their wares to the neighborhood ladies.

The Scene: (Near the duck pond in the National Gardens, Lakis enters, stage right, pushing baby Chrysostomos in his pram, and spies Harilaos approaching with his three-year-old twins.)

Lakis: Tee yineteh? Pos paï? Vlepo otee eheis ta mavra sou ta halia. What’s happening? How does it go? I see you have your blacks and wretchednesses.

Harilaos: As ta na paneh sto thiavolo! Mavra keh arakna! Griniazeh ee falena keh afta ta anathematismena pethia meh ksipnisan keh egineh to matee mou garitha keh pou na ksana peso? Let them go to the devil! Black and cobwebless! The whale was complaining and the accurséd kids woke me up and my eye became shrimp and where to fall again?

Lakis: Mia ap’ ta ithia. One of the same.

Harilaos: Ta ’taza lagous keh petrahilia na to volousoun. Ala pou? Ehee strosee to thikeesou? I promised them hares and ecclesiastical stoles to plug it. But where? Has yours paved?

Lakis: Ba! Vgazee ta thontia tou keh mena tee psiheemou! Pou katandisameh lohia? As katsomeh ekee na kopsomeh kinisee. Bah! It’s bringing out its teeth and me, my soul! Where did we end up sergeant? Let’s sit there to cut circulation.

(They sit down, heavily, on a park bench, the twins run off, and Lakis slides a three-kilo box of pastry out from under the pram.)

Harilaos: Po, po. Eheis yinee baoulo keh eferes keh glika? Po, po. You’ve become a steamer trunk and you’ve also brought sweets?

Lakis: Siga! Ipeh o gaïtheros ton petino kefala? Ela, faï! Ineh theonostima. Slowly! Called the donkey the rooster big head! Come, eat. They’re god-delicious.

Harilaos: Ohee, ohee. No, no.

Lakis: Ela! Come!

Harilaos: Travateh me keh as kleo. Pull me and let me cry.

(The two men fall on the pastry with gusto.)

Lakis: Ego eho paree thekapendeh kila, k’ esee mono theka. Siga tin ipothisee. I’ve taken 15 kilos, and you only ten. Slowly the case.

Harilaos: (With his mouth full.) An mas paï etsee ee apergia tha yinomeh periptera. Keh then ftanoun afta. Ksipnisaneh ee yinekes mas keh mas valan ta yalya. If for us it goes thus the strike we’ll become kiosks. And these are not enough. Our wives have awakened, and they’ve put us the glasses.

Lakis: Na sou po mia thoulia na vgaloumeh lefta . . .Let me tell you a job to bring out money.

Harilaos: Kala! Palee itheës? Hereta mou ton platano keh Nikolo kartera! To kalo to palikaree kseree kee’ allo monopatee. Eepa tis Garifalias ta sika sika keh tee skafee skafee. Ya na feroumeh mia ksenee ya ta pethia tha kostizeh o koukos aïthoni. Na mou thosee ta lefta. Great! Again ideas? My regards to the plane tree and patiently await Nicholas! The good brave-young-man knows another path. I told Carnation the figs figs and the tub tub. For to bring a foreigner for the kids would cost cuckoo nightingale. To give me the money!

Lakis: Neh, reh! Na aniksomeh vrefiko stathmo yia ta pethia ton taksijithon? Yes, babe! Shall we open an infant station for the kids of taxi drivers?

Harilaos: Eh, iseh ano potamon! Eh, you’re above rivers!

Lakis: Yiatee, reh? Ineh loukoumee ithëa! Tha perasomeh zoï keh kota! Tha piasomeh tin kalee! Tha ta paroumeh hondra apo tis kloses pou then ehouneh kero yia ta pethia. Why, babe? It’s a Turkish Delight idea! We’ll pass life and chicken! We’ll catch the good! We’ll get the thick from the roosting hens who don’t have time for the kids!

(The baby has started screaming in the pram, so Lakis absentmindedly feeds it some pastry. Meanwhile, the twins are rolling in the dirt, pummeling one another. Harilaos suddenly looks at his three-year-olds and rushes to pull them apart.)

Harilaos: Teratakia! Mee mou anapsoun ta lambakiamou! Ehieteh kanee tee zoïmou patinee! Little monsters! Don’t my little lights go on! You’ve made my life a scooter!

Lakis: (Laughing.) Meh kamia kivernisee then anigoumeh stathmo. Tha ta stiloumeh sta katerga! With no government we don’t open a station. We’ll send them to the galleys!

(Suddenly, Lakis notices the time.)

Lakis: Aman, Haree, ksimerothikameh! Andeh, faï to komatee tis dropis keh figameh. Mercy, Harry, it’s dawned! Eat the piece of shame and we’re gone!

Harilaos: Tha fameh pandofla an argisomeh yia to Wait Watsers! We’ll eat a slipper if we’re late for Weight Watchers!

(The two men gobble up the last of the pastry, grab the twins and pram, and rush out of the park towards Ambelokipi.)

Lakis: Faï tee glossa sou! Imasteh akoma manghes. Tha tee vroumeh tee thoulia. Pameh! Eat your tongue! We’re still macho men. We’ll find it the job. Let’s go!

Harilaos: Andeh yia to zigee keh meta iseh yia kanena Imam Baïldee, krasakee keh kana kilo troufitses? We go for the weighing and afterwards are you for some The Imam Fainted, a little wine, and about a kilo of sweet little truffles?

Lakis: Neh, reh. Iseh protos! Tremoun ta sikotia mou. Figameh. Yes, yes. You’re the first! My livers are trembling. We’ve left.


Pagona shoots Mitsos, in bed with Aglaia, in the foot. (Drawing by P. Standley.)
Pagona shoots Mitsos, in bed with Aglaia, in the foot. (Drawing by P. Standley.)

Where Goes This Violin?

September 1989 Here follows another chapter in the ongoing Athenian saga of manghes Harilaos and Lakis, their enterprising wives, Garifalia and Barbara, and their partner, Pagona, who’ve made it big in the home sale (à la Tupperware) of sexy lingerie.

The Scene: (Garifalia and Barbara have met for lunch at the Hilton Hotel to discuss the plight of Pagona who, catching her husband, Mitsos, in bed with another woman, the notorious Aglaïa, has shot her man in the foot. Mitsos, repentant, is about to be released from Evangelismos Hospital, and Garifalia and Barbara are bent on repairing the marriage—which means taking 30 kilos off the portly Pagona, pronto, and turning her into someone sexy and svelte, like Garifalia and Barbara, themselves.)

Garifalia: Ithes tee zimia epatheh O Mitsos yia na kanee korthelakia? Did you see what damage befell Mitsos to make ribbons?

Barbara: Eh vevaïa: opios ehee to yenia ehee keh to ktenia. Tee nomizeh? Aftos to iheh krifo kamari keh o kosmos toubano. Eh, of course: whoever has the beards has the combs. What did he think? He had it secret pride and the world, drum.

Garifalia: Tora O Mitsos mas kanee tee papia. Thelee na yirisee stee Pagona thiotee then ehee vrakee sto kolotou. Now our Mitsos makes the duck. He wants to go back to Peahen since he doesn’t have underwear on his bottom.

Barbara: Garifalia mou, na ’vlepes ton Mitso otan plakosameh keh ton tsibisameh. Na mee sou menee andero. Ton pigeh tris keh thio. Keh ee koufala ee Aglaïa pigeh na zitisee resta, to tsokaro. Ée Pagona, pou then tee paï meh tipota, tis ipeh, “Tin alee fora, tin evapses: tha tee fas sto stavro!” My Carnation, you should have seen Mitsos when we pressed down and pinched him. To not leave you an intestine. It went him three and two. And the hole-in-a-tree Aglaïa went to ask for change, the clog. Peahen, who doesn’t go her with nothing, told her, “Next time, you’ve painted it: you’re going to eat it on the cross!”

Garifalia: Neh ala koukla mou, na poumeh keh tou stavrou to thikio. Ee Pagona ineh trifilee doulapa. Na tee troï, etsee stee mappa katheh mera? Prepee na tin kanoumeh theokomato. Yes, but my doll, let’s say and of the blind the right. Peahen is a three-leaved cupboard. To eat her thus in the face every day? We must make her a God-piece.

Barbara: (Laughing) Meta ap’ afto O Mitsos tha to fisaï keh then tha to krionee pou tee patiseh etsee. Omos pos tha simazepsoumeh tee Pagona? Pou tha paï afto to violee meh tis lihouthies: prepee na ta kopsee maheree. Opos paï tha ineh yia ta sithera. After this, Mitsos will be blowing it and he won’t be cooling it that he stepped it like that. But how are we going to tidy Peahen? Where is this violin going with the sweeties: she must cut them knife. As she goes, she’ll be for the irons.

Garifalia: Then tis skavoumeh to lako, omos ineh keh ena matso halia. Apo fonee, as’ ta; apo parousia, as’ ta keh vras’ ta . . .We’re not digging her hole, but she’s a bunch of wretchednesses. From voice, leave them; from appearance, leave them and boil them . . .

Barbara: . . . apo karthia, omos, ineh malama. Omos, prepee na hasee kilia tou skotoumou. Then paï alo.. . . from heart, though, she’s gold. However, she must lose kilos of killing. It doesn’t go any more.

Garifalia: Then tis kayeteh karfee, omos. Prepee na tee psisoumeh taka-taka yiatee o alos o ksipnios tha tis tee feree palee. Keh ee alee, ee sousouratha, ftiaknee therma. Tee ligoura. The nail doesn’t burn her, though. We must grill her taka-taka because the other the awakened will bring it to her again. And the other one, the magpie, is fixing skin. The hunger-pang.

Barbara: Mistirio kapelo, aftee! Then tin eho thee apo totes pou egineh to etsi, moreh . . . . Ksafanistikeh ap’ tee piatsa. Mysterious hat, she! I haven’t seen her from then when the so happened, Babe . . . .She disappeared from the (taxi-) rank.

(Harilaos has now entered the Byzantine Café, with Pagona on his arm. He carries an enormous box of “Jaconda” chocolates, and occasionally sneaks one into Pagona’s mouth. They are wrapped around one another as the maître tries to seat them. Barbara, who’s facing the entrance, sees Pagona and Garifalia’s philandering husband: Garifalia has her back to them.)

Barbara: (In a hoarse whisper of shock:) Then mou les, O Harilaos sou, then kanee kefee stekes san keh sena? Don’t tell me, your Harilaos, doesn’t he make joy for sticks like you?

Garifalia: Magos iseh? Yiatee rotas? Are you a magician? Why do you ask?

Barbara: Vlepoun ta matia mou poulakia, ee tha mou figee to kafasee? Vasta haraktira. Kaneh tee karthia sou petra. Yineh teras psihremias. Tha pesee to vouno keh tha mas plakosee. Are my eyes seeing little birds, or will my crate leave? Hold character. Make your heart stone. Become a monster of calm. The mountain will fall and flatten us.

Garifalia: Ma, tee epathes? Miga seh tsibiseh? Ta’ pekses yia kala? Se vareseh ee zestee? But, what has befallen you? A fly bit you? Have you played them for good? Has the heat walloped you?

(She turns, at this juncture, and sees Pagona kissing her husband at a far table. She stands up and screams.)

Garifalia: Fithee kolovo! Theka kronia stee pina keh ’see mou ’ksigeseh meh aftee tee diavolou kaltsa? Pagona, tha sou vgalo to malia sou triha-triha! Kathikee tou kerata! Pou . . .  Truncated snake! Ten years in hunger and you explain me with this devil’s sock! Peahen, I’ll pull your hairs out of you hair-hair! Little stool of horns! Who . . .

(Garifalia passes out into Barbara’s arms; Harilaos and Pagona flee; the whole room’s in an uproar.)

Barbara: (Fanning her friend’s face with a menu:) Tora kseroumeh pou pigeh afto to violee . . .  Now we know where this violin went . . .


Illustrator/cartoonist P. Standley’s take on a Greek/American marriage. (Drawing by P. Standley.)
Illustrator/cartoonist P. Standley’s take on a Greek/American marriage. (Drawing by P. Standley/The Athenian Magazine.)


To order Elizabeth Boleman-Herring’s memoir and/or her erotic novel, click on the book covers below:

Elizabeth Boleman, Greek Unorthdox: Bande a Part & a Farewell to Ikaros

Elizabeth Boleman Herring, The Visitors’ Book (or Silva Rerum): An Erotic Fable

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring, Publishing-Editor of “Hubris,” considers herself an Outsider Artist (of Ink). The most recent of her 15-odd books is The Visitors’ Book (or Silva Rerum): An Erotic Fable, now available in a third edition on Kindle. Her memoir, Greek Unorthodox: Bande à Part & A Farewell To Ikaros, is available through Thirty years an academic, she has also worked steadily as a founding-editor of journals, magazines, and newspapers in her two homelands, Greece, and America. Three other hats Boleman-Herring has at times worn are those of a Traditional Usui Reiki Master, an Iyengar-Style Yoga teacher, a HuffPost columnist and, as “Bebe Herring,” a jazz lyricist for the likes of Thelonious Monk, Kenny Dorham, and Bill Evans. Boleman-Herring makes her home with the Rev. Robin White; jazz trumpeter Dean Pratt (leader of the eponymous Dean Pratt Big Band); and Scout . . . in her beloved Up-Country South Carolina, the state James Louis Petigru opined was “too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.” (Author Photos by Robin White. Author Head Shot Augment: René Laanen.)

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