Thursday, March 17, 2016

Papa .... (Parent's spit made me run?)

Mom wrote this post in 2012. It was titled Papa ... I think "Parent's spit made me run" would be just as fitting! This post is in her draft bucket but I can only assume that it was posted at some time because there are comments. Here is what she wrote ... 

Today one of the German newspapers reported about the 
unwritten rule in soccer 'trip, push, kick opponent all you can but never spit'.

'spit' opened one of my memory drawers.

Sub burbs of Athens. Our patio was a concrete one, narrow and very long on the side of the house. Papa used it as his exercise room. I don't know how often he walked it back and forth. It seemed like the entire day when he was not busy having a nap or sitting in coffee shops downtown Athens. Some areas under foot would become so hot that you could fry an egg. I was 6 years old when Papa said "You see the man standing across the street, go and get me a newspaper, look I'm spitting into the corner here, make sure to be back before it dries up".

And here is our story ... well mostly mine but Ellena was involved. 

I'm not terribly fond of spit. We lived in a predominantly Greek and Italian neighbourhood where you'd often catch men, sometimes women, spitting on the sidewalks. Mom and I would be totally grossed out and found it unacceptable! We happened to be talking about this during one of my visits in late 2015 and that's when I reminded Mom of an incident that happened with her. 

I must have been somewhere around 8 years old, old enough to walk to the store on my own ... this was the 60's after all. It was a hot muggy summer day and all of a sudden Mom was in the mood for some Melomakarona and Kourabiedes (Greek cookies soaked with honey and Greek butter cookies dusted with icing sugar). She asked me to go to the bakery and pick up a dozen of each. I couldn't just go to any Greek bakery - She wanted me to go to this specific bakery that was 10 blocks away from our home! 

It was a stinking hot summer day, around noon when the sun is at it's hottest, the bakery was far, and all I wanted to do was stay inside and play instead of running a cookie errand. I whined and lamented hoping that she'd leave me alone but no - Mom had a craving and it had to be satisfied. I'm sure I annoyed her and her request eventually became an order. Firmly, she gave me money, instructed me again as to which bakery I should go to and then, to make sure I was prompt, spit on the inside window ledge and said "You better be back before this spit dries up"! 

Oh my!  The pressure was on and I just wanted to stomp my feet, cry and refuse ... but I didn't.  I knew better and hustled my butt to the bakery! I'm sure I mumbled to myself all the way there and back, didn't let the usual candy store or park distract me along the way and came back as quickly as I could. I ran up the stairs (we lived on the 2nd floor of a 2 story duplex), gave her the box, and ran to the window to check the spit. Phew, I made it back in time! 

Looking back, I'm not sure what the consequence would have been - a threat was all I needed. Come to think of it, was Mom just annoyed and wanted to make sure I didn't dilly dally? Did she feel a touch sorry for me and made sure that her spit was a big blob? Who knows .... I was young, generally obedient and worried about getting in trouble all the way to the bakery and back. The spit? well size didn't seem to matter and there is no way I could have figured out how long it would take to evaporate!

Mom had a good chuckled when I told her the story. I laughed too but said that it was an awfully mean thing to do to a child that was mostly obedient and never dared to contradict a parent. I repeated the story when Mom was in the hospital. My sister, uncle and aunt were there and we all laughed about it. That's when Mom told us about how her Dad had done the same thing to her when she was young. Ah ha!  Now I knew who had given her the idea!

This is the only incidence I remember where Mom was firm and threatened me. I'm sure she was in no mood to go out herself and Dad was most likely dozing off and wasting the sunday away. Mom and I ate the cookies together, me with a big glass of milk and mom with some coffee. I'm still not fond of people spitting on sidewalks and I never used this tactic with my children. I was too traumatized by it (ha ha ha) ... but not enough to never eat Greek cookies! In fact I love Greek cookies, Baklava, and Loukoumades -  drench something in honey syrup and I'm there! 


Halle said...

It is amazing the things that trigger a memory isn't it?
You have reminded me of another six year old child who used to be sent out on errands; never timed that way though!

Rouchswalwe said...

When I lived in western Japan two decades ago, the women there would tell me how civilized their men are when compared to American men, "Japanese men do not spit on city streets," they would tell me, filled with peacock pride. I didn't tell them that I would often see their men tinkling in the open gutters on my evening walks home. Different strokes for different folks, heh?!

Ellena said...

Halle: I wonder what kind of a story will be triggered next. Hopefully not one that I will have to keep under lock and key.
Rouchswalwe, and I won't tell you that we still have underpasses here that I avoid like the pest.

Rouchswalwe said...

Ha ha ha ... my mother only had to say, "do I have to get the cook spoon?" and my brother and I would do whatever she asked. Many years later, we were talking one day over coffee and cake and the realization hit that Mom had never actually used the cook spoon on either one of us. We'd never even been spanked or slapped as children. My brother and I weren't afraid at the time. In fact, we didn't know what would have happened had she indeed wielded the cook spoon. My mother laughed at that and admitted that she wouldn't have even known what to do with the cook spoon had we continued to act up at the time. "Thank goodness the question alone worked without fail," she laughed.

Trish said...

Too funny Rouchswalwe! The dreaded spoon or belt or ruler... what parents or teachers threatened children with or actually use! It's a good thing that our memories are good compared to the unfortunate ones.