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A Naming Day Party in Greece

Enjoy the generosity that's so often extended to travelers in countries where hospitality is second nature. Talking to strangers is a great way to open yourself to new experiences, and the best adventures of all can come when people invite you home....for dinner! Some day they'll show up in your home town and you'll have the opportunity to reciprocate.

In this chapter, Sarah and Alexandra go to the dinner party of Dr. Theo, who had dated Sarah on past visits to Pharos. It's Theo's name day. All Greeks are named after a saint, and there's a holiday for each one. On your name day you throw a party for all your friends as well as everyone you know with your name. P.S. Sarah is directing the local people in "The Tempest" and everyone on the island wants to be in it.

from Chapter 13:

Theo's veranda is crowded when we arrive: cats pacing the steps, lying on the wicker chairs, draped along the railing—formally dressed, chatting, waiting for the first course.

"You're sure Theo treats people?" Alex says.

"They're probably all called Theo," I explain as we pick our way over flicking tails to the front door.

Two dazzling caryatids are posted either side. Theo's roof appears to be resting on teased capitals of buttery spun-sugar atop generous columns of flowering drapery cinched at the waist; the bases are white patent stilettos.

"You are Americans," says one, reading our invisible labels.

"We are. I'm Sarah." I take her hand.

"Alexandra," says Alex, not touching.

"Sophia," "Elena," say the marbles. Sophia is staring into my eyes, a fixed Cararra smile.

"There's Theo," says Alex loudly, to break the spell. And steps between them.

"You look for an actress?" The pillar doesn't release me.

"Ah. Yes . . . yes, I do." But they're all moving parts, I don't say.

"I am actress."

"That's good. May I come inside?"

"Malista!--certainly"

Theo is snaking toward us, a tray of something held aloft. "Ella, come, welcome." A Lacoste shirt, chinos, loafers; off-duty Santa Monica surgeon. Wouldn't that make the family happy.

"Hronia polla, Theo—long life."

Sophia releases her grip and I give him a hug.

"Thank you, Sarah," he smiles, and waves his tray at the crowded room. "Everyone is waiting to see you. Parakalo, please!" All faces turn toward us. "My friends Sarah and Alexandra."

"Kaloste, yiasas, harika . . . ," they smile and murmur.

Dinner party or casting call? A dark thought broken by a kiss—Iannis the Baptist soaked in ouzo, aiming for Alex no doubt.

"Signome—excuse me." A short heavyset girl with mustache steps between us, squeezes through the flowered columns and hurls a pot of water onto the terrace. Shrieks and hisses: cats flee. She retreats beaming .

Into the gap ooze two eager fellows with champagne in both hands.

"Theo, exadelphos tou Theou," says the one in a UCLA sweatshirt.

"Theo's cousin Theo," I tell Alex.

"Kai ego eime Theo," says his friend, handing us drinks.

"Him too," I tell her.

"Are they putting us on?"

"I don't think so."

"Everybody with the same name," she whispers. "My God—it's your dream party."

"Efharisto—thank you, Theos," I address them all. It is an exhilarating experience.

"You direct for the play?" asks the Theo next to him.

"Auditions Wednesday . . . akro'asi Tetarti."

Another guy arrives bearing bubbly. It's the sponge diver from Kalymnos disguised as a fine-boned fair-haired Bacchus. His battered caique is my favorite gift shop; nothing's lighter to pack than a sponge.

"Theo, signome, I didn't recognize . . ."

"No worry, no worry. I like to be actor." So, a sponge diver on the side.

"Sarah, Alex"—says my friend Petros, indicating his date—"this is Monika from Malmö. She's a painter."

"Monika, hello." I take her hand. The grip is strong. Painters can't be actors, can they? "Where's Malmö?"

"It's a small town on the Swedish coast," she says. "Very small. You can run around it in a day."

"And she does." Petros the wolf lightly taps her thigh.

"Are you painting on Pharos?" Alex asks.

"Yes, but it's difficult. I'm not used to such clear light, such perfect shadows. And even the beauty of the place makes it hard; everything is so . . . picturesque."

"What a problem!" Petros is being an idiot.

"No, it really is. There's no contrast, no tension."

He looks stranded. A smart blonde is terra incognita. But not for all of us. "I've turned my writing table away from the window," I tell her. "Otherwise I'd be staring out to sea. And they don't give Pulitzers for daydreaming."

Alex throws me a quizzical look. Even I wonder why I said it.

"Come my friends, let's eat!" calls the host. A feast is laid on the kitchen table, enlarged for the event by stacks of orange crates: all the mezedes never seen in tavernas, plus grilled vegetables, roasts, fish stews, potato casseroles, and breaded small fry. The caryatids are handing out plates. Sophia, unless it's Elena, gives me a quick kiss with my knife and fork. "You have beautiful hair," she whispers. Theo and his mother, behind the table, are bringing famine relief. "A little less, a small amount," some of us plead uselessly.

There's no Greek word for "dieting." Or maybe there is, but it lost its caché with the fall of Sparta.

[edited for length]

To learn about Barbara Bonfigli and Café Tempest, feel free to visit any of these sites.

Barbara Bonfigli's website – www.cafetempest.com

Order Café Tempest directly from the publisher - http://www.tellmepress.com/pub_ct.php or from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Café-Tempest-Adventures-Small-Island/dp/0981645313

To see the complete tour schedule visit http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2009/05/cafe-tempest-by-barbara-bonfigli-summer.html


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