Today, for the second time, I caught hell for something that happened last month. I considered the verbal assault especially unjust because I wasn’t to blame for the misunderstanding in the first place. Be that as it may, my sister-in-law was in no mood for excuses when she harangued me for using inappropriate language around her kids.
The genesis of the situation occurred at a local Greek festival in October. Though I didn’t object to attending with my wife, I had no desire to shepherd her nephew and niece for the afternoon. But Sophia volunteered to escort the tykes, which meant I also “volunteered.”
Blessedly, the event’s organizers provided entertainment for children. They’d set up a segregated play area and also made available a face painter. While I chatted with a couple of lawyers I know, Sophia took her five-year-old nephew and four-year-old niece to the play area. She also treated both of them to the face painter’s services.
My trouble occurred when she returned with two hungry children and told me to feed them. Holding a grubby paw in each hand, I let Franco and Maria drag me to the food pavilion. While waiting in line, I described each of the authentic Greek dishes available for purchase. The kids told me what they wanted, and I in turn pronounced the Greek names for them. I swear I didn’t fool around. As I recall, I slowly and clearly enunciated the name of each entrée: “Moussaka” and “Spanakopita.”
Sophia came looking for us as we finally reached the serving position. She arrived just in time to hear my instruction: “Okay kids; each of you tell the nice lady what you want.”
Naturally, Franco and Maria mangled the pronunciations of their respective dishes, and in equally unfortunate ways. Sophia, as well as the un-amused serving woman, assumed I’d egged on the children; and the fact that I doubled over laughing certainly didn’t help matters.
I’d always thought little kids’ memories were fleeting. Yet, this afternoon, when my sister-in-law’s lunch offering included stuffed grape leaves — just like those seen at the Greek festival — both tykes perfectly recalled the dishes they’d ordered during our outing. The children informed Gina that they’d rather have those entrées for lunch today. Alas, they mispronounced the names of the dishes in exactly the same manner as before. I wasn’t to blame then and I’m not responsible now, but that didn’t stop their mother from giving me much the same earful I received from Sophia and the serving lady last month, when Franco requested the “Moosecock” and his sister asked for a plate of “Spanacrapita.”