Germans Vs. Greeks – By @LaskarisPhillip
By Phillip Laskaris
Germans Vs. Greeks
Don’t worry, this isn’t a race war. (I do wonder who would win if my German family fought my Greek family, maybe that’s a different SCAB.)
I’ve celebrated two Christmas’s in my life, one with a bunch of Greeks stuffed in my house and one with a few Germans placed around a table. They’re about as alike as apples and feta. (A little background – when I say Germans, I mean real born and raised in Germany. They rode horses as kids, would ice skate to the Netherlands, and they mother’s family owned a silverware factory. When I say Greeks, I mean first generation Greeks, who spent some of their childhood in Greece, but most of it on the streets of NY selling hot dogs and working.)
It starts with the arrivals. Greeks don’t come into a home, they open the gates and announce their arrival with a bugle. The birds stop chirping, the kids stop running, and I stop peeing. A Greek elder doesn’t carry their bags past the front door. Not because they can’t or they’re spoiled, but because they’ve already worked and now it’s your time to work. As they move to the chair they’ll only get up from once dinner is served in the other room, the family comes to pay their respects. A kiss on the cheek, a squeeze of the hand, and a comment about you – always about how you look. A German however can enter a home and within minutes it’s like they’ve been there for days. The hellos are short, maybe you’ll get a hug, but only if it’s been 8 years since you’ve last seen them. Otherwise a simple handshake and “Hallo” will do. They’ve no doubt brought some food that was pre-ordained by the house and has its place in the meal to come. If a Greek brings food, it’s a surprise and it’s either dry cookies or a container of food they picked up on the way because they were hungry and worried there wouldn’t be enough food.
Packed around the dinner table with some people having to hold their plate, Greeks eat everything on the table whether you want to or not. As my Greek grandmother apparently said “you never turn down free food.” Food is thrown onto plates, I often find myself having to turn down more food than eat it. I look at forkfuls of meat held in front of my face rather than the faces prodding me with it. And somehow, even with them eating at a rate known only to humming birds – they keep talking. The talking never ceases. They tell generally hilarious stories, always at the expense of someone at the table or they criticize, always at the expense of someone at the table.
In conversation with the Germans, it’s harder to tell as I don’t speak German. I can understand about every 4th word giving me the topic of discussion, but rarely the inner workings of it. From what I gather, they also tell stories, but while Greeks tell stories by interrupting each other and yelling louder to make sure their part is heard, Germans wait for a person’s thought to finish. As if they were at a streetlight, the Germans wait for green, then they talk. One at a time and only so loud that the person they’re talking to can hear it. It at times makes for rather boring interactions with intermittent silences between stories while someone thinks of another that fits the table.
At one point, the eldest member of the German family asked what I thought of their family, if I thought they were crazy because they were talking about someone’s ex-boyfriend from over 40 years ago. I couldn’t help but laugh, as that was the craziest thing they had said. All I could think about was the story of my aunt and her helper at the hotdog stand who was deeply in love with her even though she had a husband. She was pregnant and worried the helper would stop working if he knew, so she told him instead that she was constipated, for 9 months.
“No, your family is not crazy.”
The Greeks are brash, loud, and offensive. But all the drama makes for some fun. The Germans are quite, polite, and careful. But when they find something that’s a good laugh, it’s a genuine moment of happiness the whole family enjoys.
I couldn’t pick between the two on the off chance that one of them reads this, but if they did fight, I reckon the German’s would win based solely on their fitness being better.