(missed posting this last night due to... well, honestly, due to the consumption of about a bottle of roditis wine)
i just realized ive made it halfway thru the month. and some of the stuff ive written (not just posted from previous writing sessions) im kinda proud of. i know this blog is a bit all over the place, and since ive been working on a show, is often about theatre, but i hope those who read it frequently are enjoying it. please, feel free to comment on any of the posts, dialogue/feedback helps motivate me to write more and better.
today is tuesday, and almost every tuesday im in chi-town these days, i try to get together for at least a drink with my best friend from high school, kayt (kate, now that shes not a teenager she spells it normally--i still think of her as with the 'y' tho, i see it in my minds eye in her handwriting). anyway, she also was in theatre in high school, also went to college in iowa, also came back to OP/chicago after graduation and she also attempted teaching for a time before deciding it wasnt for her. we have been friends for 17 years this winter and have become family to the extent that every year i spend part of christmas night at her house, playing games around the dining room table with her family, all of whom i know and love.
now tonight, since we havent gotten to see each other in a while, we will go out to dinner to catch up. this is a standard thing as well. there was a time that started when we moved back from college and spanned (on and off) until i moved to seattle, that we prolly went out to dinner on average once a week. and always to the same place. our visits to this same restaurant have become such a habit that when we set up the dinner date for tonight we only had to decide on a time. there was no need to mention that the place will be, of course, papaspiros.
this restaurant has been our place for close to ten years at this point. the owner *loves* us and has proposed to each of us multiple times, his brother, the head waiter, is our buddy and confidant (and also comes on to us often), the busboy that was there for years and years was our best friend, and every single waiter that has worked there is 1) astonishingly attractive 2) a huge flirt and 3) incredibly good at tavli (a greek version of backgammon).
we would go to have dinner and share a bottle of wine and dish about our lives, as well as flirt shamelessly with the waiters. (you must be aware of the fact that this was the most girlie time of my life. ive had a friend describe me as 'boy crazy' during that period. tho it was a fallacy, i understood where they got the impression. i actually wore skirts back then) we were there so often that spiro, the owner, couldnt help but get to know us. (he had to cater to the regulars, especially when the regulars are two cute young women.) from that point on we would get at least one free round of drinks with our meal, and we would stay all evening. at some point we were close enough friends with everyone that we no longer counted as customers. we would stick around till closing and then go down into the bar with whoever was working that night and play tavli and drink till late. they taught us how to be good at backgammon, sort of all of them at once, crowding the board and giving advice, counting the dice and their moves in greek, keeping each other honest when they tried to cheat us...we got good enough for it not to be a teaching moment every time one of us played, they would actually have to concentrate so that we didnt end up beating one of them.
the time that we were really heavily involved there was when i was living a 'stumble home' from the restaurant and used it like my living room. this was also the time that kayt and i each made out with at least one of the waiters if not more (i think tasso might be the only boy we have ever both been involved with). and yes, they were pretty, but it was just a really fun group of guys to hang out with, and they were all really good at their jobs. the first time i noticed tasso it was because he opened a bottle of wine so beautifully. not in a showy way, in a very capable and adept way that was full of nonchalant, everyday brilliance. his were the kind of hands you enjoy watching, and they were good at a plethora of things. (not to mention they happened to be attached to a person with the most gorgeous face i have prolly ever seen in my life who actually made me shiver with desire and even just recently inspired kayt to use the phrase 'raw sex' in describing him). but aside from that, he was a fantastic waiter and just the opening and pouring of our wine that night made me wax eloquently on the simple pleasure of watching someone do something well. doesnt matter what it is, if yer good at it, i would love to watch you do it and if you enjoy doing it, that just makes it all the more fun to watch. this is more than partially why i loved going to spiro's place, because everyone there was remarkably good at what they did and most of the time very much enjoyed doing it.
it helped augment the enjoyment for them, and for us, that the waitstaff was such a close family. aside from the fact that half of them were related to at least one other person that worked there (i mentioned that spiro and yanni are brothers but also spiro's son sammy helped out, and their cousin's son georgie was there on and off. and tasso's brother pambo also worked there--he was our favorite), they really loved hanging out together. and we got to be a part of the crew for a while, getting to see all of them the way they were as people after they were done working for the night. yes, they were still our waiters (tho it came to feel like going over to a friends house for dinner), and yes they were very good at their jobs (which was fun to see and was like we were hanging out with our friends while they were at work), but no, that did not define them (to themselves or to us), because we got to see them for who they were as people. especially cuz almost all of them were from greece or nearby--albania, cyprus, turkey--and they would tell us about their lives there and how they felt about the differences they experienced here. it was really a great community to get a glimpse into, to have the honor of being a part of even, for the time that it existed.
cuz its a lot different now, only spiro and yanni are still there from the time we were regulars. i mean, we still walk in and get kisses and hugs and 'how are you, where have you been baby, i love you so much'-es and it feels like home to sit down at whatever table we want, order a bottle of the greek blush wine--roditis--that we always drink, spend a while ignoring the menus before ordering what we always get, and hanging around until just before closing when spiro will sit and gossip with us, buy us at least one more round of wine (if not three) and treat us like we arent customers. but its not quite the same, and not because there arent any beautiful boys left, but because the family that was the heart of the restaurant has scattered to the four winds, many of them going back to their homes on the mediterranean, some just moving on. its still a good restaurant with a good waitstaff and really good food, its just that for me it has lost a bit of that same joy of watching someone do something so well that its become the most natural thing in the word. that thing that makes it great.