Saturday, January 18, 2014

Where Have All My Friends Gone?

What’s today?  Friday. Oh FiretrUCK, I’ve got to write a blog. This professorship gig is relentless. I’m finishing up the third week of teaching two hours a day, five days a week, plus an every day regimen of producing written critiques and rewrites of the latest pages of my sixteen students’ new mystery novels. 

I’m loving it, but why did I pick this year to give up drinking?  Oh how I miss my friends, Jack, Jim, and Johnnie to console me.  And even my internationalist colleagues, Stoli, Jose, and Grey.

Did I ever mention before that I’d given up drinking?  No, I didn’t do it so that I could more clearly comprehend what’s going on in Greece—that would require an enchantment and concomitant time travel to some point in the future where I could gaze back on the past to see how things will turn out in order that I can tell you before they happen (if you can follow that you’re definitely a Dennis Hopper fan).

No, I gave it up for one simple reason: On Mykonos there’s only one of two ways to be if you’re the sociable sort, pleasantly pickled most of the time or stone cold sober. You see, in the mornings in the harbor it’s the fishermen offering you to share their tsipoura (think grapa), at lunch time it’s wine, at sunset ouzo or more wine, dinner more wine, and late at night in the bars and clubs…well you get the idea.

Yes, I know, just say no.  Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds in a tourist paradise. “Hey, you drank with him. Why won’t you drink with me?” “I’m just here on vacation for a couple of days.”  Or, “I’m buying you this drink, you can’t say no.”

But if you say, “I don’t drink” and stick to it, despite the initial razzing, your friends will stop asking and pushing you.  Some will even privately confide that they wish they could stop.  It’s not a question of alcoholism (I’m sure I’ll get letters on that one), it’s a matter of that’s just the way it is over here.  It’s part of the life that I love. I just decided to focus more on the other parts (none of which I’m a happy to say I’ve given up…so far).

The serendipitous result of all this is that every morning when I wake up, I’m bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and roaring to go. No fuzziness.  In fact, I finished writing my new novel for 2014 one and a half months before I thought I would! 

At a book event for my current release (Mykonos After Midnight) moderated by my editor, I told how giving up drinking helped me write my new book faster.  Like a shot, she deadpan quipped: “I’ll let you know if that was a wise decision after I’ve read the manuscript.”

The manuscript…the manuscript! Oh, my God. I promised to have final edits back to her by the end of the month.  When am I going to find the time….

Jack, oh Jack….

Nah, besides, I’ve found a new pal to hang around with, Claust as in Clausthaler.  He’s a regular non-alcoholic sort of chap. 

By the way, there’s still all sorts of ways to get that hangover headache-like feeling, Greek-style, without the booze.  For example, here’s a news story from Reuters, yesterday, that should do the trick:

A man who created a Facebook page poking fun at a revered Greek Orthodox monk has been sentenced to 10 months in prison in Greece after being found guilty of blasphemy.

Thousands of Greeks took to social networking sites to protest against the arrest in 2012 of Filippos Loizos, 28, who used a play on words to portray Father Paisios as a traditional pasta-based dish.

“He was merely satirizing in a country that gave birth to satire,” his lawyer Yorgos Kleftodimos said on Friday. “Never and by no means did he insult the Orthodox Church.”

Father Paisios, who was revered for his spiritual teachings and said by some believers to have powers of prophecy, died in 1994.

Loizos has appealed against the ruling and will not be jailed before his case is heard by a higher court, Kleftodimos said.

The charges against him, of insulting religion and malicious blasphemy, were filed after Christos Pappas, a lawmaker from the far-right Golden Dawn Party, brought the issue before parliament.

While blasphemy charges are not commonly filed in Greece, a similar case in 2012 was brought against the team behind an American play that depicted Jesus Christ and his apostles as gay, drawing criticism from rights' groups and politicians who said the country's blasphemy laws were outdated.

The production of “Corpus Christi” was cancelled after weeks of protests outside the theatre by priests and far-right groups, including Golden Dawn lawmakers.

Pappas is detained pending trial on charges of belonging to a criminal group, as part of a government crackdown on Golden Dawn.
It’s complicated. 



  1. As a teetotaller, I find most people are pretty understanding when I tell them I can't drink. I have had the occasional comment that this must make me a cheap date. I tell them I prefer to think of it as being extremely good value for money.

    On the other hand, when I wake up in the morning feeling lousy, that's likely to be as good as I'm going to feel all day.

    1. Hmmm, perhaps that explains why I feel so much more welcome among my check-splitting friends.

    2. Hmm, have to admit I've been out for a lot of group meals where I've had only a starter and no booze and been hit with a share of everyone else's cocktail bill. On such occasions the late and much lamented Sally Fellows used to sit down and her first words to the waitstaff were always, "Separate checks!"

  2. I apologize in advance, Jeff, but I am going to say the obvious. With all that is going on in Greece, they are paying attention to satire and blasphemy. I am not sure if I should interpret this as a good sign or the end of the game.

    1. I think it speaks more to how many cooks have a hand in stirring the broth (mixed metaphor, but I'm sure you get the point, Annamaria). With the razor thin majority held by the governing coalition, it appears no one has the stomach for jumping in and challenging even the most obviously exploitative positions (neo-Nazi parliament member wrapping themselves in the flag of the Greek church) that might cost the majority supporters. To be fair we see the same thing in the US. Hopefully, it will be reversed on appeal.

  3. With the goings-on in Greece, no WONDER they drink all day! If things get much worse in the U.S., I may have to expand my one small glass of wine per day. Maybe I'd better start building that wine cellar... No, wait... (wait for it) I can w(h)ine here all day!

    1. I never thought of that before Everett! Hmm, I suggest that considering the way things seem headed (here and there) we'd all appreciate your opting for extra soundproofing for that cellar of yours.

  4. I think all politicians should be required to teach a course in something or other! Very quickly there'd be less whining about how little teachers work and how much time off they have.

    1. No argument from me on that suggestion, Stan. I never fully appreciated all that teaching entailed, especially for an intersession course (4 credits in 3 1/2 weeks). No wonder people kept telling me it's like taking a drink from a fire hose.