Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bits and pieces

I've noticed that women in Greece, at least in individual apartment buildings, tend to form little gossipy cliques.

The great thing about our building is that, above the elevator on each floor is an open mesh grate. You can see the elevator mechanisms moving (and see if the cords are frayed) and you can also see into each floor as you pass. Because of this openness, you can also hear sounds all the way from the ground floor to the top floor, which means when a gaggle of gossipy women has gathered in the hall of one of the floors, you can hear them talking.

These women are almost always middle-aged (not that there is anything wrong with that, I'm almost there myself) and they have a similar inflection for each conversation. You can hear one of them talking, and then at the end of a sentence the voice gets lower, followed usually by "Ahhs" or "tsks" from the other women. I have found this low talking thing to be a rather global phenomenon amongst gossips. It usually means they are stating bad news, as in "Julia got cancer" or "Bob is now unemployed". I find it rather amusing, because it seems that my generation doesn't treat bad news so seriously. Well, we treat it seriously, but it doesn't garner any special reverence or inflection. In fact, sometimes we state the bad news in a higher voice. I am not sure, though, if that is a difference between generations or ages. Maybe when I am 45 I'll say the bad things in a whisper. Who knows.

The other thing I've noticed about these women is if the elevator starts moving, they stop talking, and they all turn their heads to see who is coming up or down the elevator, and commence talking once they hear the elevator door shut below. I am not sure if they realize they can still be heard quite clearly by anyone in the hallway, not just someone on the elevator. I mean, these ARE Greek women after all, they should know by now how loud they are and how well their voices carry. But maybe it is just an excuse to stop and stare. Greek women like to stare a lot. And I don't mean any normal stare, I mean a Medusa-like glare that makes you think perhaps you've spawned three heads and will eventually turn to stone.

On a different note, I think one of cats caught our cold, because he keeps sneezing.

I put too much lemon and not enough honey in my tea. It did NOT taste good.

My husband is doing his own ironing today, in lieu of sending it to his mother. I won't make any pretense of ever intending to do his ironing. I wash the clothes, hang 'em on the line. If he wants them pressed, it is his problem. Somehow, though, I think our relationship is very uneven. He does everything and I do nothing, aside from laundry and housecleaning. Half the time he even does the cooking. I wonder how long before he regrets not choosing a good Greek wife?


Pseudo-intellectual lunatic said...

i lov ur banner

Anonymous said...

I think staring is a pretty entrenched greek trait. Maybe more so in the women than the men. You will also find they are incredibly nosy (by US standards), asking some of the most personal intimate questions when they have just barely met you. It's part of being so gregarious!?!?

The SeaWitch said...

I've noticed several times in your blog that you've mentioned that you wonder if your husband regrets not having married a "good greek wife". What does this mean? Greek wives are good because they do what...iron clothes? make their homes into sterile laboratory environments where kids are incessantly screamed at if they dare put a fingerprint on the windows? From the outside looking in, it seems your husband appreciates you more for your fine-tuned brain than your fine-tuned ability chlorox the bathroom fixtures. He can get the latter for 40€ a day, a loving, intellectually stimulating equal partner in life is priceless.

Thanos said...

I could have responded, but I'm covered by seawitch's response above. Couldn't have said it better myself (not that I haven't, many times ;p)

melusina said...

Well, I say that because that seems to be a prevailing sentiment here in Greece. Marrying a non-Greek is taboo to nationalist types. But it isn't just that. I see my mother-in-law and envy how much she is able to do, and still practice medicine at the same time. I was never a domestic type, and most Greek women are.

Before I got married one of my guy friends, who happens to be a fanatic of all things Greek, gave me a stern warning about his idea of the stereotype of Greek men. That I would be expected to cook, clean, iron, wash windows, on time and to the letter every day. Well, he has since changed his mind, at least when it comes to Thanos, but I always think about it.

The SeaWitch said...

I know exactly what you mean, Mel. About 3 months after I arrived, I remember flopping down on the bed at night exhausted from cleaning and told my husband so. He replied "Cleaning? The house isn't clean." and then he started naming off the things that I hadn't cleaned...the slots on the air conditioner, (who knew you could clean them? I thought it was the job of the repairman.) the outside blinds on the windows (they're outside...why would I clean them anyway? I never washed the outside of my house in Canada. I painted it.) This was all news to me. But he was right...Greek women do all that stuff and more and I'm thinking "Thank God I'm not Greek otherwise I'd have to do those things too!" From that day on, I decided he was right. These things must be cleaned and I'm proud to say that the outside of my house AND the little slots on the air conditioners are clean. Katerina, our cleaning lady, makes sure of it every Tuesday. Sometimes, I have fallen into the same thought trap as you but luckily for me, I'm not Catholic and my guilty conscience lasts for all of nanosecond. LOL I'm just happy that you seem to have married a man with a brain in his head and not a foot in his mouth.

EllasDevil said...

Your story of your friend warning you about what would be expected of you when becoming a 'Greek Wife' actually makes me laugh. It's amazing how people (such as your friend) form what they think are fact based opinions are based on a stereotype of what they think a Greek really is.

Also you mention about marrying a non-Greek being taboo with nationalist types. That's the same anywhere, was there anyone who didn't think it was good of you marrying a foreigner?

So it must have been a shock when you find out that there isn't going to be trouble when the home cooked meal that you should have been slaving over since 9am isn't on the table at 6pm exactly when he comes home. :-)

Also SeaWitch's story about her husband listing the jobs she hadn't completed made me think one thing: 'I wonder how long it took for his bruises to fade'.

The one thing that is starting to worry me is the reality that I too 'don't iron'. It's never been something that's caught my interest so I've never learnt. My mom every now and again will say to me: "what will you do when I die?" and my well thought out answer has always been "well if you'd be so selfish as to die. I'd have only one choice, I'd have to get married!" but I think after listening to the reality of what marriage involves. I'll have to change my answer to "poach Katerina from SeaWitch".

melusina said...

Haha! Well, I guess Americans don't really think so much about marrying foreigners as good or bad. It seems more that most Americans find the idea of marrying a foreigner exciting or something.

Obviously, my friend was trying to protect me, and certainly once you live in Greece you realize how some households seem to be. If I watch my MIL, or listen to the sounds coming from other apartments, I hear the meal preparation, the cleaning, all the work.

I am certainly grateful I have the husband I have, and he has never been one to point out things I didn't clean. In fact, the only thing he ever complains about it cat hair, and I don't blame him for that. Three cats equals lots of hair, especially during sheddy season.

We will have someone come in to clean when we get the big front room finished (ie. done unpacking and getting the rest of yiayia's stuff out). Maybe we can even get them to iron. =p