Is There Life After Jack?


Everybody left the village today. Jack and Sue drove over the mountain to Athens. They're flying to San Francisco tomorrow and won't be back for three weeks. James and Joan took the 12:30 Flying Dolphin to Monemvasia. They'll be cruising around the Peloponessos and returning here around the 20th of this month. Martha and her daughters and friend Christine caught the dolphin on it's return trip and will be getting off in Spetses. It was sad because Martha and her crew all wanted to stay except for Christina who was antsy and wanted to find a place with discos and night life and long sandy beaches full of sunbaked tourists. I think what she really wants is some muscular, mustached, Greek God to help her find the complete holiday experience and unfortunately I'm the closest thing to that around here and I'm married bald and fat. It was a prime example of the rule of the vocal discontented. Everyone else loved it here but because one person was unhappy they sacrificed their happiness to appease her. That's the trouble with traveling in groups. The nice guys usually lose out. Maybe they'll come back when they get off the boat and find themselves in the midst of the stampeding lower caste tourists of Spetses, or when they get the bill for their first meal. Maybe they'll look longingly at the Flying Dolphin schedule and wonder if there is any way to return before tomorrow. Or else they'll go to Hydra, the next island with its beautiful amphitheater village and its gold shops. They might like it a little better even though there are no beaches and people just swim on the rocks outside the port, packed together like seals at the Cliff House in San Francisco.

The bottom line is that my gang has dwindled down to Andrea, Amarandi and Elaine. I could get a little claustrophobic if I didn't console myself by remembering one of my purposes in coming here was to relax, write, and study A Course In Miracles. With Elaine constantly on my nerves I may also have some opportunities to practice it.

Last night was a fitting grande finale for everyone. Jack ferried us all to Vrissi in his tiny rental car, making just two trips by packing us in beyond capacity. We had ouzo and mezedes at their house with Theodorakis playing in the background. Jack took me over to the stereo to hear a passage from Zorba that gave him goose bumps. Jack was so moved by Theodorakis I realized he would make a good German. The Germans think of Theodorakis as a God. I told Jack that my friend who plays in his group told me how difficult it was for the other musicians because Theodorakis does not have a good sense of time. They all have to watch each other and somehow stay together when he is conducting the small orchestra, playing the songs the whole country knows by heart. I thought that was funny because all the photos of Theodorakis on his album covers he's shown conducting in such dramatic poses. The reality is that while he is passionately waving his baton, harnessing the orchestra and forcing it to bend to his superior will, the musicians are pretty much ignoring him and watching the drummer. So actually he is not conducting the orchestra so much as he is conducting the audience. But the audience is impressed. And to the Germans, Theodorakis is simply heroic. A leader of the opposition against the Junta. Composer of the soundtrack of "Z" and many other pieces, and outspoken critic of.… well many things. I don't know who he is criticizing these days or whether he is still a leftist or has gone over to the conservatives. Anyway it is better that musicians don't get into politics. Brilliant men of passion are easily used and led astray by the power hungry types usually attracted to politics.

"Yes Jack, there is no doubt that the man is a genius, but there were many men of genius who had difficulty keeping time. I can't think of any off hand but I have heard that Lord Byron was a terrible dancer." I was grasping at straws and Jack's sharp mind recognized it as professional envy. Maybe he's right. Is there anyone on this planet who listens to my music and gets goosebumps besides me?

Jack could see me tearing myself apart with self-doubt and made his move, herding the crowd out the door and up the street to Lefteris restaurant where we continued the party at a large table that was waiting for us. Elaine and some of the girls who had begun dancing at Jacks, continued on the big outdoor patio while the locals looked on smiling. The Greek experience took a sudden detour when half of our party ordered pizza, myself included, (though mine was a respectable feta, olives and garlic pizza). We started drinking the homemade wine on top of the ouzo and it seemed like the evening was always just on the verge of going out of control. Then Amarandi, who had refused to take a nap and until then had been happily playing and dancing with everybody, became hysterical and demanded ice-cream. Rather than try to reason with her and wanting to shut her up as quickly as possible we agreed to let her have some. Elaine carried her inside to pick out her flavor, then hurriedly returned.

"Those jackasses, don't have ice-cream!" she said and then repeated it for all to hear. I got angry and told her not to call them jackasses. It's a lame excuse for a swearword. If you are angry enough to use one then stop pretending to have class. "Those cock-sucking mother fuckers don't have ice-cream!" is what she should have said. And if she had we would have all rolled on the floor with laughter instead of getting pissed off at her for calling the taverna owners, friends of Jack, jackasses. (It sounds better in Greek when you call them gaidouri. In English it just doesn’t cut it) She insisted on repeating that they were jackasses, as if she were a 3 year old excited over learning a new word. How could they be such jackasses to not have ice cream in the summer? Jack said later that was when he reached the boiling point. It was the first time Elaine had actually broken through his calm demeanor. He had held out for as long as humanly possible. Perhaps if she had known how to really swear he might have respected her and salvaged the relationship. But at that moment I realized that for Jack and Sue this was the end, and if and when they came back we would probably not be able to convince them to join us for dinner again. Life in this idyllic village was looking more and more bleak as I became more isolated from the people I actually liked.

I took Amarandi for a walk to calm her down after her ice cream disappointment and embarrassing yaya incident. Just before she fell asleep she asked "Am I very tired?" I told her she was and she was instantly asleep. I returned to the table feeling like a successful parent.

Finally it was time to go home. All of us, except Elaine wanted, to walk down the mountain. So, Sue gave her a ride to Parilea, while I went to Jacks to borrow his Greek-English dictionary for the next few weeks. Sue returned very quickly, so quickly I was afraid she had taken Elaine only as far as the bridge and thrown her off it. We said our goodbyes and I started down the hill. I ran into Andrea, wheeling a sleeping Amarandi in her stroller, as she was leaving James Crispy's house. Everybody else was still there having coffee and brandy so I went in to join them. James was holding court on his back patio, the silence of the olive groves obliterated by the Wagnarian opera blasting out of his large speakers. It was an odd juxtaposition of a lovely village scene and the soundtrack of Hitler invading Poland. I admired his paintings, sat for awhile, and then continued my journey home with my brother and Joan as walking companions.

So now it's a whole new ballgame. Probably by the end of the weekend we will have a new set of friends to eat and drink with. Mitch will be here in either 3 or 10 days according to the letter I received at Katinas yesterday. He said he was arriving in Athens on Sunday, but he didn't say which Sunday. We had to search his letter for clues. He mentions a trip to Ottawa on July 6th. The letter is postmarked June 28th. Not much to go on. We'll know on Monday when the Flying Dolphin arrives with or without him.

Tonight is the ferry boat. It comes from Athens once per week on its way to various ports on the Peloponessos and Crete. It returns on Sunday to take the weekend visitors back to Athens. It's a major event, and the population of all three villages come to meet it. I can't wait.

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