My Mother decided we would go and visit the main town of Zakynthos. It was very pretty but not really much bigger than a shoe. The main cathedral was shut and so my Mother decided we should go on a a little tour on the rickety train that rides round the town showing tourists the sights.
“But Mother, we could probably walk round it in ten minutes.”
“I’m too hot. And besides, I like these little trains.” She replied.
This was true. I had been on many of them with her. To be honest I found them a bit odd and always felt like and overgrown child on a carnival ride that shouldn’t really be there. I was unsure whether or not I should be waving to the locals as we passed by. Anyway, on the little train we did go. Now this particular train had a commentary in various languages. The Greek man’s accent on the recording was so strong I could barely understand my mother tongue. I gathered it was famous for writers and poets but that’s about as far as I got before I switched off. The effort of trying to work out what he was saying was too much.
“I hope you’re paying attention to what he’s saying.” Said my Mother as we bobbled through the streets.”I shall be testing you afterwards.”
Really. This is so typical of my Mum. When I was younger, all family holidays or visits out would end with having to write an essay when we got home. And God help you if you hadn’t remembered anything important or historical. I swear to God this is why I feel compelled to write a blog. It’s ingrained into me!
I mean it was just a joy to wake up at weekends and hear my parents say, “ We are going to such and such museum today.” Or “ We shall be visiting a very interesting place/site/event.”
Well whoopy frikkin’ doo. I would be filled with deep and rapturous joy at the prospect. Not.
“I can’t understand him, so no.” I said.
“Well that’s because he’s speaking in Russian!” She chided.
“Oh.. I think I have sunstroke.”
Later in the evening we went off to the cocktail bar as was now the holiday tradition. After several of these had started to take effect, the hunger would strike and we would need to be fed. Now, there was a lovely restaurant a few doors down that we had been to a couple of times and we decided to go back there.
The thing about this restaurant was that the main waiter / street hustler seemed to be enamoured with our presence. His name was Lawrence. Course it was.
As we arrived we were warmly greeted by him and sat at the table of our choice. He rushed over with a vase of flowers and said, “ Here is your mirror..”
I looked at him directly. Well as directly as I could after several cocktails. “ Yes, beauty deserves company, right?”
“Oh! Very good line!” He smiled.
“I’m sure you will be using it from this point.”
“Only to you.” He said clasping his hand to his heart.
“ Well, that won’t get you very far with the passing talent now will it?”
He brought us a bottle of wine and our menu’s. The music was changed to ‘Rat Pack’ and he sang and danced his way round the open restaurant.
“Later you must dance with me..so I can feel your soul.” He said as he poured the wine into my glass.
I wondered if this was a Greek euphemism for something else.
“I’m sure you can feel my soul from right where you are, Lawrence.”
“I see it, I feel it. You connect with me and my mind.” He stood there like Romeo.
“ Well that’s interesting. I normally terrify people.” I responded.
“How did you make such a masterpiece?” He asked my Mother.
She burst out laughing.
“ My Mothers never really been a fan of art.” I interjected. “Particularly not abstract.”
He was then busied away by more customers entering and my Mother and I were left to peruse our menu’s.
“I don’t like him.” She said. “Don’t encourage him.”
After a weeks worth of Greek mezze I fancied something different. Italian. Maybe it was because Dean Martin was crooning in the background. I just felt like a heartwarming Lasagne to soak up the alcohol. And then I read the menu and changed my mind.
I mean it was probably a spelling mistake but you never know...
Whilst we finished up our meal another waiter came over with another bottle of wine.
“No, no thank you.” I stated “I can’t possibly drink another thing.”
“But it is from Lawrence. A gift. He would like to join you.” He placed a third glass on the table and the wine in an ice bucket. Oh God. My Mother and I locked eyes. Nothing needed to be said.
“Maybe after we close I can drive you both to a place I know where you can see the beautiful ocean and have drinks with me ?” Lawrence offered as he sat comfortably at our table smoking his cigarette and drinking his wine.
It was already past midnight and I was getting to a point where I was struggling to focus from alcoholic overkill and, really? Did he think we would just swan off into the night with some Greek Lethario? I’ve watched a LOT of Criminal Minds.
“Errr...no thanks. We’re very tired.” My Mother responded. I felt a rush of love for her.
However, it seemed we were not allowed to leave the restaurant without a complimentary aperitif.
“ Please..” said waiter number three. “What can we give you? Free metaxa, free vodka? Free cocktail?..”
“How about a free liver transplant?” I asked.
We decided on metaxa as it is known for it’s healing qualities. I tried to keep feeding it to the vase of flowers when nobody was looking.
Eventually we got to leave but not before Lawrence handed me a folded piece of paper.
“This is for you. Read when you have left here and I hope in my heart I will see you again. Maybe tomorrow?”
We stumbled out of the restaurant and made our way home.
“No, down here...we live down here, where it says one onion blue hotel. One onion blue hotel? What a stupid name.” I directed to My Mother who was going in the wrong direction.
“Its not one onion, its Ionion!” She scoffed.
“Leave me alone. I’m sick..” I mumbled. We got back to our apartment and went to the bar.
“You look red like tomato.” Chirped our friendly Greek complex manager.
“And I was just starting to like you.” I replied. I lifted my hands to my face which was excessively hot and figured I must have alcoholic poisoning.
“You want a metaxa?” He asked.
“Not unless you’re a paramedic with a spare hose in your back yard, no, I need water please.”
I went back to the table to see my Mother reading the note from Lawrence:
“I’ve seen that read at peoples funerals.” She said. “He didn’t write that.”
“Well of course he didn’t! Do you think I’m stupid?” I hiccuped out the words as well as I could.
She didn’t answer. Needless to say, we never went to that restaurant again.