In today’s world, if the Greek diaspora wants to communicate with each other or find out what’s going on, there are many websites and social media sites that they can go to, such as our own Cosmos Philly, My Parea, Growing Up Greek American, and many others. A click of the mouse and instant contact throughout the world. I write an article and Greeks from Australia, Vietnam, Bulgaria, England, and here in the United States are commenting on it within a minute it is published. Truly amazing.
But it was not always like that. During the BCP time (before cell phones), we had no social media and no click of a button for instant contact. The Greek diaspora relied on printed newspapers, radio, television, and word of mouth. But we did have something else just as powerful as any social media of today. Something that was quicker than the internet. Something more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound (for your Superman fans)…we had the World Wide Greek Grapevine.
What, you ask, is the World Wide Greek Grapevine, which still exists today? It’s not a physical thing you can touch. You don’t need a computer. It’s not something you can see. It’s hard to explain…it’s just there and the older you get, the better in tune you are with it. Better to give you an example.
During the BCP time (early 90s), my Greek band was playing a wedding at a hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, south of Washington DC. Traveling from Philadelphia, our singer, who was driving the van with all of the equipment, was separated from the other cars we were driving and was lost. Remember, no cell phones at this time or GPS. He did not know the names of the bride or groom or the hotel. The only thing he knew is that we were playing somewhere in Virginia near Washington. A few years earlier we had played in Vienna, Virginia, which is right over the border of Maryland and Virginia. He headed there and saw a pizzeria shop. He stopped in to use a telephone when he saw photos of the Parthenon on the walls. He asked the owner if he was Greek and he replied, yes. Our singer explained what happened and that he needs to find out where this wedding is.
The Greek pizzeria owner called his elderly mother. The mother called her sister, who called her friend, who called another two or three relatives or friends, and within ten minutes our singer was told who was getting married, what church, the name of the hotel where the reception was, what the groom did for a living, who his relatives were, and…how many people were invited (and who wasn’t)! He was also given a shot of Ouzo. He made it on time. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the World Wide Greek Grapevine.
How many times, as a kid, did you do something you weren’t supposed to do and before you made it home, your mother was waiting for you…wooden koutala in hand, steam coming out of her ears, because she found out what you did. For the life of you, you couldn’t figure out how she found out and that fast – that was even worse than the beating. That is the World Wide Greek Grapevine.
Greek mothers are more in tune with the World Wide Greek Grapevine. You went on a first date with a Greek girl, both agreeing to keep the date a secret, no one knows, and after the date as your dropping her off down the street from her house, you’re both thinking everything went smooth – yeah right. Her mother and your mother are already planning the wedding even before you ordered dessert at the restaurant you took her to. That is the World Wide Greek Grapevine.
Even better…something happens while you’re out at a club and within a short time you’re getting calls from relatives half-way around the world, because they “heard” what happened to you from Yianni, who heard it from his cousin, Toula, whose brother, Kosta was at the place across the street from where it happened and was told by the bouncer, Joey, the xeni friend of Kosta’s sister, Maria. Get it now? That’s the World Wide Greek Grapevine.
It’s a wonder of the world, an unsolvable mystery of the universe. There is something about our Greek DNA. Like a global positioning satellite tracking our every move. Or, even something more. Are we all tied in telepathically? I don’t know, but even today, with all the social media that is out there, my World Wide Greek Grapevine is working very well…just ask my daughters. They are still trying to figure out how I found out about things before they get home – the World Wide Greek Grapevine, of course.
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