Today I am in New York for the wedding of my daughter. It's obviously a busy week and so I thought I'd use another Tale of the Piano Bar to cover for me. I should have known better. The teller of this tale, Jody Duncan, and his partner, Nikos Hristodulakis, are proprietors of Mykonos’ Montparnasse Piano Bar. His story is in keeping with the bar’s reputation as the La Cage aux Folles of the Aegean—which is about as subtle a way as I can think of to say that Jody’s story (notice how I distance myself from the telling) will undoubtedly offend some readers. Sorry about that, but from my years as a lawyer involved in the personal travails of my clients, I can assure you that similar sorts of events occur everyday, every where, though rarely ending as peacefully as this did. So, with for those with an open mind…here’s Jody.
It was just after sunset, the sea was silver and the sky blood orange. It was a few hours before our live entertainment began but customers were gathered around the bar enjoying sunset, including two gay men from Seattle, Arthur and David.
A conservative looking couple strolled in for a drink. A friendly sort, they introduced themselves as husband Liam and wife Maureen from Ireland, on holiday with their two teenage children. It was their first time on Mykonos, they’d heard a lot about it, and were thrilled to finally be here.
One drink led to another and soon Liam and Maureen were deeply engrossed in conversation with David and Arthur.
Arthur was regaling Maureen with recommendations on places to explore and things to do on Mykonos, while a few feet away husband Liam and David were engaged in an animated exploration of a different sort. Their hands were deep inside each other’s respective pants.
Nikos and I were in a panic, because if Maureen turned around, she couldn’t miss what her husband and David were up to. Arthur already knew, because he was facing Maureen and could see everything going on behind her. He pumped up his efforts to keep Maureen distracted and did a pretty good job of it for far longer than I thought possible.
Just when it seemed Arthur could no longer keep Maureen’s attention away from her husband—and Nikos and I were seriously considering launching a cold water bath across the bar—they withdrew their hands.
Whew, the moment of crisis had passed. But then David suggested they all go to dinner together and Maureen agreed. As the British say, this shall end in tears. But at least not in our place.
Or so we thought.
Around midnight Maureen returned to the bar, alone. She sat on a sofa across from the bar, weeping. Nikos went over and asked her what was wrong. As if he didn’t know.
She said she would like a Metaxa but didn’t have any money with her. Nikos told her that wasn’t a problem and called for to me to bring her a snifter of that Greek brandy. She said, “Thank you,” and assured Nikos she’d pay as soon as she found her husband who had their money. Nikos said not to worry and innocently asked, “Where is your husband?”
After another round of tears, Maureen said, “He's run off with a man!”
Nikos feigned shock and assured her all would be better in the morning. He even made her smile when he said, “Darling, at least he didn’t run off with a woman.” He followed that up with, “This is Mykonos, and that sort of thing happens here all the time." That wasn’t true, but even if it were it’s not the sort of slogan the Mykonos Chamber of Commerce would want bandied about to tourists. But it made Maureen feel better to hear it, and that was all Nikos cared about at the moment. She composed herself, thanked us, and left.
By the following afternoon things seemed to have settled down between Maureen and Liam. They showed up together at the bar to settle Maureen’s tab and stayed for a round of drinks. Liam even thanked us for keeping Maureen calm while he was “off doing his thing” the night before.
What husband Liam didn’t do was show a bit of remorse or offer an apology for his behavior. We’ve no idea what happened after the couple left our bar that day, but we seriously doubt we’ll ever see them again on Mykonos—at least not with each other.
I’m sure there’s a moral to this beyond a cliché-like “all relationships are complicated,” but frankly, I don’t know what it is.
How about, “Men are all alike”?
From past experience, many of us who make it through a Piano Bar Tale need a drink. So, with that in mind and as a public service here’s the Montparnasse recipe for a doozy involving Metaxa…sans snifter and tears.
Our Lavender Sidecar. To a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1½ ounces Metaxa 5 star brandy, a healthy dash of tincture of lavender, ¾ ounce of Triple Sec liqueur, and ½ ounce fresh lemon. Shake very well and strain into a large old-fashioned glass rimmed with sugar and filled with fresh ice. Add a twist of lemon peel to garnish. Cheers!
Thanks, my friend, for picking this tale on the day of my daughter's wedding. I just hope everyone else out there cuts me some slack because I'll be getting more than enough grief from my daughter and her fourth-degree black belt husband-to-be for it appearing under my byline on this day:). Lots of love and congratulations, Karen & Terry.