I have a thing for old Mediterranean men. I notice them, get fascinated by their walks, hand gestures, postures, their clothes and shoes combinations and especially their old watches, often hanging on a chain in their pocket. I can stare at them all day, trying to read the stories in their calm eyes and wrinkled faces and especially like those with big smiles, who can talk for hours. Last summer we were island hopping in the Cyclades. Our boat ended up in a tiny island out of this world and into a movie-like set with airy abandoned houses, hidden corners, exposed gas meters and purple flowers. Following the “Chora” signs we ended up on a square, where the empty tables and chairs indicated the not-yet-opened town bar, a few cats stretched leisurely out in the sun and a cute pink church on the opposite side.
Adonis was sitting on a bench covered with a striped rug, having his morning coffee with his buddies under the church shade. We sat on the bench close by, but as we were three girls speaking foreign languages, it didn’t take long before our coffees were transferred to their table and we joined the spot in the shade. Adonis stood out from the company of the four old men, his eyes full of expression and his face with endless curiosity. With a smile to his ears, he proudly told us the story of his name, Adonis - the boyfriend of Aphrodite. I am no expert on Greek Mythology but I nod my head and took in each word about how powerful, beautiful and amazing Adonis was. Next followed how beautiful and smart his children were because he made them so. Of course we didn’t escape the questions of “Are you married?”, “Do you have a boyfriend?”, “Is he a good man?”, “How many kids will you have?” Being the classic New Yorker with an almost permanently single status, I usually don’t enjoy answering these questions. But with him, somehow it was natural to talk about it, at the end of the day it is a part of life. Regardless, I was not in the hot seat. In our group we had the beautiful Angiliki, recently engaged to a young Greek lad, overflowing with pride and joy. It was agreed they would get married on this island next summer and will have at least two children. Oh… and by the way “Adonis” is a really good true Greek name for a baby boy.
The sun had shifted and there was almost no shade, our frappes had become a froth icy mush. I asked to take his picture. Instead of the usual shyness, Adonis pulled out a huge smile for me, posed proudly with his blue shirt and matching hat, and at the end requested a group foto with the pretty ladies. The other men got some of our attention as well and the conversation continued as if there wasn’t a 50-year gap between us. All of a sudden Adonis looked at his watch, got up, grabbed the fresh loaf of bread inside of a white plastic bag, stood up and to everyone’s surprise stated: “It is 12 o’clock, I went out to get bread and never went home. My wife will kill me!” All of us tried to persuade him to stay for one more coffee, but he started waving his index finger left and right and said “I am afraid of my wife, she is serious!”. We said our good byes and watched him walk away in a rush. A man with a Burberry knock off summer hat looked at him and said “There are certain things I don’t miss about being a widower”… and we all laughed.
Later this afternoon, on my way back to the boat, I was walking through the dirt path road, greeting the goats on the side hills and absorbing the sights and impressions of the day. As I approached the port, I heard a loud and familiar voice “Tinikulaaaaaa”. It was Adonis yelling out at me from underneath a tree. He was standing with his arms and legs apart while his wife was applying sunscreen on his knees and back. I got excited to see him and walked towards him, but quickly changed direction as I saw his wife’s scrutinizing look. It was her territory and although I didn’t know whether to take it as a compliment or a laugh, I didn’t want to take any chances. I wished him a nice day and a good swim and walked away quickly. 30 seconds later, he yelled at me “Angilikulaaa???” I told him she is coming in 5 minutes and walked away even faster smiling even wider…