Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Greece in Review: In Which I Prove Either My Keen Observation Skills or My Reckless Ignorance

I went to Greece not just for a wedding but also to experience a new place and culture. Here I present what I've learned about the Greeks, a gross generalization that is probably offensive and also at least partly inaccurate. But please understand that it comes from my own observations, which are rooted in nothing but endearment, and which are mine for the judging (and sharing). And after all, I came back with respect and admiration for these people.

1. They won't scold their male children. That's all there is to it.

2. They won't scold their grown-up children for breaking silly rules that only exist to provide an opportunity for scolding anyway. ("Ladies and gentlemen, we have not arrived at the gate. The seat belt sign is still illuminated. If you do not take your seats, the pilot will not move the plane. We will wait here until everyone is seated." You can bet it wasn't on Greek soil I heard that.)

3. They're not above bending the rules in the name of a happy ending. On my last day, I went with the bride and groom to the priest's house so they could sign the marriage license. In looking it over the groom discovered that his names were inverted and that the best man had signed in the wrong place. Not about to let this rain on anyone's parade, the priest ushered us into his garden, took out his pad of marriage licenses, and began filling out a new one. As the best man and witness had both already returned to the States, a fellow friend who was with us forged the best man's signature and I signed as the witness. (At least my witnessing wasn't totally bending the rules; I did actually witness the marriage. Through a window with bars on it, but I witnessed it nonetheless. And while I may not have understood a word of what was being said other than the bride's and groom's names, I got the gist, didn't I?)

4. They do things much later than we do.* This includes waking up, going to sleep, and eating. If we ate dinner at 11:00 p.m. it was a good night. This seems to come from being social, carefree, and fun-loving. Plus, if everybody else is out you don't want to miss an opportunity to socialize (see below).

5. They are endless gossips and are never without what to say. (I only experienced gossip of the good kind, but I've heard plenty about the other kind.)

6. They are warm and generous people to whom family means the world.

7. They have absolutely no idea what they're talking about when it comes to serious things like airport security, as proven by the airport cashier who wouldn't let me purchase the prepackaged candies for sale at Duty Free (where I had to show my boarding pass to shop) because honey was an ingredient in said candies and liquids above 100mL aren't allowed for transport to the U.S.

8. They're in no hurry.** And why should they be? They only laid the foundation for civilized society. They put in their time some 2500 years ago; they deserve to coast now, don't they?

9. Please don't expect them to be on time. This is not only ignorant but also a bit rude.

*Farmers and the elderly excluded
**Except on the road. Oh boy, look out.

Ah, Greece, thanks for the hospitality

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