My friend Barbara and I decided to vacation in Greece in 1977. We both worked for Texaco in New York at the time. Barbara worked in the Tax Dept., I the Tanker Chartering Division (chartering oil tankers for Texaco). Both groups had offices in Athens so we thought a vacation to Greece would be a perfect fit – after all most Greeks are either in shipping or Diners, in New York, so the shoe seemed to fit.
My boss had connections to the Onassis organization and, unbeknownst to me, contacted the folks in Greece to tell them we were coming. When she and I arrived at the Athens airport, we were surprised to hear someone calling my name. I’ve always liked to think of myself as a worldly, outgoing individual but who could possibly know me in Greece? It was Ari’s chauffer who unfortunately could not speak a word of English, nor could I speak any Greek. We finally understood that he was there to pick us up, take us to our hotel (which unfortunately was located in the “Red Light” district of Athens, who knew?) and let us know that he was at our disposal 24/7 until we left Greece.
How very accommodating.
He then left, but not before telling us what he had planned for us during our stay. That evening, Barbara and I went to the Hilton (where American tourists go, cowards that we were) for a few drinks. Barbara met a guy named Tassos (we were to find out how common that name was) and again, unknown to me made some plans with him to meet up a few nights later. We really were very good friends and still are but are both very independent women. We began our adventure in Greece but really had no idea where it would end up taking us.
A few days later we were on an outing to a private beach with Onassis’ pilot and other friends of theirs. The chauffer came back to pick us up and take us to a beautiful seaside restaurant for lobster. We were taken to the kitchen and told to pick out any lobster we wanted. The size of one of these lobsters could have fed a family of 10 for 3 weeks! It was soooooo fresh and yummy. Ok, now Barbara says that she has to go call Tassos and see what the plans were for the evening. I said in a very annoyed voice, “Well when he comes to get you I want the chauffer to drop me off at the hotel so I can shower and rest.” I’m not a beach person and I was hot, dirty and had sand in places where you should never have sand. She came back to the table (this was before cell phones if any of you can imagine that) and said he was coming to the restaurant to meet her and bringing a friend! Oh, Lawd……..now I was really angry!!!!!!
I’M NOT MEETING ANYONE IN THIS CONDITION. I WANT TO GO TO THE HOTEL, NOW…………………..
Well, he must have been standing on the corner when she called him because they were there before I could find our chauffer and leave. My back was to them when they arrived and a good thing. I probably would not have been able to utter a word if I had seen what was coming. I saw the Tassos that Barbara had met before and then “my” Tassos stepped into view.
I can still hear the angels singing when I looked up at him and remember thinking; I SURE AM GLAD I STAYED BUT WHAT COULD HE POSSIBLY THINK ABOUT ME WITH NO MAKEUP, SWEATY, DIRTY, AND WIGGILING IN MY SEAT FROM SAND IN MY PLACES???????????
“My” Tassos spoke perfect English (because he had been well educated in French schools), was more gorgeous than a Greek God and I couldn’t believe how lucky I had become!!!!!!!! Hmmmmm….. We exchanged some niceties and then, as I began to feel more and more uncomfortable, probably because of the sand, I became a bit confrontational. My only defense was a good offense. I told him I was not staying and they could all go on without me. He said he frankly didn’t care but proceeded to try to talk me into staying. I think I then became something to conquer and he was clearly annoyed that I wasn’t falling into his arms as most touristas might have! I told him I would consider going out later but WAS going back to the hotel to shower and change. If he wanted to come along and wait fine, if not fine. They both elected to come and wait for us.
When we were finally ready to go out we went for dinner and we decided to start over again. During the course of the evening we discovered that we had a lot in common after all! We both liked him! He was also in shipping so we had some common knowledge to share. The rest of our vacation went swimmingly well. I saw Tassos again and again and he always took us to great places where we could break dishes and glasses and drink till 3 a.m.
Long story short, Barbara went home at the end of 2 weeks, I stayed a little longer with “my” Tassos. When I returned to New York he called and wrote every day. After 2 months, he wore me down and I quit my job, left my family and moved to Greece.
After 5 months, I was homesick and wanted to return to New York. He said he would come with me. (What was I thinking?????) He closed his business; we married in Greece before we left, drove to Spain to see some of his relatives and flew to New York to begin our lives as man and chattel (an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things). He didn’t like the cold so we moved to Florida (where I now reside and am a captive).
In 1979 my son Dennis was born and is now waiting for his own child to be born. Tassos and I were divorced in 1982 and my sister-in-law now calls me the “Crazy Cat Lady” because, thanks to Tassos, I prefer to share my life with cats. I must say, I wouldn’t have changed a thing if I could do it over though. Was the best blind date and vacation I ever had and it definitely beat the hell out of Cancun (the place Barbara wanted to go)!