When I was a teen in Chicago, I met another Greek girl at St. Basil's, our Greek Orthodox church. She was in the choir, so I joined it too and would go to church every Sunday and sing in it and the music, Gregorian, was wonderful. The choir teacher was married to a Russian named Vasili. He was a basso profundo and when he sang, the floor boards shook. He also liked patting the girls here and there. He never patted me. I was too small and hadn’t yet achieved my wow, who is she status so I was spared his attentions. My Mom was so happy I was going to church and was quite taken aback when I came home one day with dirty jokes in Greek. Here is one that I will type in phonetically and translate:
Eyo tha para theo, enna yerro ke’ enna yeo. To yerro yia lepta, ke to yeo yia agalia. I will take two, an old man and a young man. The old one for his money and the young one for his lap. In Greek, it rhymes. Poor Mom, never home free with me.
My friend was Sophie and she had two brothers, Chris and Gus. One 4th of July they decided to have a picnic in Crystal Lake, Illinois. So his friends and Sophie’s friends, including me, all piled into the back of Gus’s pick up truck and drove out to Crystal Lake. On the way, Gus pulled into a closed gas station and stole the trash bin into which he put ice for the drinks. Good old Gus. There were about 20 of us. The grounds were great – we played baseball, swam in the lake, hung out on the blankets and I caught the eye of one of Gus’s friends, Guido, whom everyone called Guy. I liked him on sight. He was 23, I was 16. We danced around each other for the rest of the afternoon and when we got back to Chicago, he had my phone number. When my Mom died in 1992, I went to Chicago and at the cemetery I saw a family plot dedicated to Sophie’s family and Gus was in it.
Guy and I dated for five months and we were planning to be married. But on Thanskgiving day, November 25th, he was killed. (I can't discuss it.) I was friends with his sister, Rose, and we hung out together a lot after that, really close. She is 93 now and still lives in Chicago and we are in touch, although she is hard of hearing so I have to write her. Rose is on Facebook, her son, Mikey is on Facebook, other members of their extended family (most of whom weren’t even born when I was in Chicago) now know me through Rose and they are super friendly because they have all been told about Guy and he was a charmer, and so I am included in their well wishes because I was almost family too. It was the life not lived.
After Guy died, Rose and I dipped in and out of a group in the neighborhood, not dating, just hanging out. They were Joe Borsellino (no kiddin’, ain’t I the best lookin’ guy on the block?), Pag, Jimmy 44, and Hank. Then there was McClutch, who I dated for a while. He was related to John T. McCutcheon, the Pulitzer prize winning political cartoonist, war correspondent, and author who died in 1949. Trust me when I tell you this apple fell very far from that family tree.