I heard a joke the other day. It was told to me by my friend Margaret, a fellow Five Point Coffee aficionado. Margaret is Jewish, so she made the characters in the joke Jewish. I’m making them Greek (sorry Margaret, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee). In reality, the characters should be Greek although I admit, it could be people from any country around the Mediterranean, but it could never be British, Swedes, or even Germans. Like Gus Portokalos said in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “they are dry, like white toast.”

Here you go: The Greek rowing (crewing) team is the worst one; always coming in last. The coach decides to find out how the Germans always come in first place so he sends one of his rowers, undercover, to infiltrate the German team. Two weeks later the rower comes back. The coach asks, “Well? How do they do it?” The rower answers, “They only have one guy yelling and the other eight are rowing!” Budumbump! (rim shot for those who don’t know).

Okay, you’re not busting out laughing until your crying, but I guaranty you that in the middle of the night you will wake up, smile, then fall back to sleep.

What is it with us Greeks? Why are we always yelling? When my niece was young and came home from school one day, she asked her mother, my sister, “Mom, why can’t we be normal like Sharon’s family. They don’t yell all the time?” Of course, my sister who grew up in a household with immigrant parents and brothers that were god-like to mom, simply answered, “No, that family is not normal, we’re the normal ones. Now shut-up and get in the car!” The question then is why are Greeks so temperamental?

It’s the 21st century, so I asked Google and an article actually popped up. The writer, who was German, was amazed how fast two Greeks talking raise their voices, and in conjunction, their arm and hand movements always increase too. In fact, he noticed that even when they speak on their cell phones, within a few seconds their screaming at the other person on the line, and it’s their mother!

We’ve all been to Greece back in the day and watched as two taxitzides break out in verbal battle when both taxis could not negotiate a small street. After a few moments of screaming, swearing, and an abundance of mountzas, they finally got back into their cabs, eased around each other, and then took off like a bat-out-of-hell to their intended destinations. Of course, the poor tourists in the back of the taxi had a heart-attacks.

So why are Greeks temperamental? Easy, we’ve been around 3,000 years in a country that’s been overrun by the Persians, Romans, Visigoths, Venetians, Turks, Bulgarians, and every other invader from alpha to omega. Most of the country is a giant rock. The sun beats down on a good portion of the land while in the north, some of the areas start seeing snow in October and lasts until May! We’ve seen it all. War, famine, earthquakes, political strife, economic strife, and every other catastrophe imaginable. In other words, we’re tired and our fuse is short. As a result, the Greeks can see right through any indiscretions or donkey manure and as soon as they sense it, the fuse burns out and they start. No patience whatsoever!

However… the article by Kirie German ended by stating that once the Greeks yelled and got it out of their system, they gave you a big smile, maybe a hug or slap on the back, and everything in the world was just right again. Hmmm? Maybe they’re on to something?

Now you’re asking, but that’s in Greece, why are Greek-Americans, Canadians, Australians, and the rest of the Greek Diaspora the same? Ah, easy. It’s genetic. 3,000 years of life experiences are inside all of us. It’s been passed down from generation to generation, and we’ll pass it down to our kids.

Thinking about it now, maybe my big sis was right. Maybe we’re the normal ones and all those “toasts” out there should sometimes try and let it out. Besides, with us Greeks, when it’s over, we will give you a big smile and maybe a hug too. One of my most favorite quotes from Zorba the Greek sums it up, “Boss, everything’s simple in the world. How many times must I tell you? So don’t go and complicate things!”

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