Greeking out in Durham

May. 23, 2014 @ 05:46 PM

I haven’t started spritzing everything with Windex.

Yet.
But I’m thinking about it.
It’s been a wild year since I took the unprecedented (in my life) step of getting baptized, joining the Greek Orthodox Church so that I could marry into a (very) Greek family.
Genetically, I’m a mix of Scotch-Irish, Dutch and German. I’m about as Mediterranean as a polar bear. So, I could definitely relate to John Corbett’s character in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
Here are things I’ve observed about this new culture I’ve plunged into:

  • Lots of talking, emphatically, often repeatedly about the same things.
  • Much gesturing. Don’t just say something when you can also wave your hands around to drive home the point.
  • Family drama. They may drive each other (and me) crazy sometimes, but they remain tight-knit and (yes, OK, maybe grudgingly at times) loving.

Wow. That sounds a little negative, I guess. I’m not sure it is, though. Maybe in the past I’ve just been too quiet, too repressed, too restrained with my emotions.
I confess this much: They’re rubbing off on me.
In the past year, I’ve gotten more on-the-sleeve with my feelings. I’ve caught my hands flailing around when I’m particularly frustrated about something. And I’ve been known to reiterate complaints.
I wonder if eventually I’ll mimic Michael Constantine’s character in the movie, squirting Windex as a cure for everything from psoriasis to poison ivy.
Even if I don’t go that far, I’ll probably grow more vocal.
Maybe it’s a healthier way to be. One thing that’s never in doubt is where anyone stands within the family network. I don’t see a lot of Deep South “bless-your-heart” sweetness with an undercurrent of sarcasm. When they like you, you know it.
One amazing thing about my adopted culture:
The food. They love to cook. My godmother’s husband – an Athenian transplanted to North Carolina – keeps a pit in the back yard where he turns fresh lamb on a spit.
My brother-in-law John makes a delicious spanakopita.
My wife cooks for us at least three or four times a week, from Greek fish dishes such as plaki to feta-stuffed chicken breasts.
But my favorite time of year is now upon us: Greek festival. Next weekend, I plan to volunteer at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, where they’ll serve everything from gyros to baklava sundaes.
I’ll help and help and help and help until they have to wheel me away.

Wes Platt can be reached at wplatt@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.