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BNE May/June 2016 |

9

it came to dating. My two older siblings found

Greek partners – model offspring – which puts

a lot of pressure on me and my other brother.

It isn’t exactly ‘arranged’ that we marry other

Greek people like it was for my grandparents

in the old days but, in a modern Greek family,

it’s just ‘recommended’ to marry other Greeks.

Unfortunately, I just wasn’t interested in Greek

boys, mainly because most of the ones I knew

back then had the same surname as me and

belonged to the same family tree, no matter how

distant the branch.

At high school there was one Greek boy (not

related) in my grade who I looked at and saw a

geek but who my mother looked at and saw a

future son-in-law who would make lots of little

babies with me and grow the family olive tree.

Of course, at that age I was obliged to do the

opposite of everything my mother wanted, so

for five years whenever my Mum invited him

to my birthday parties, pushed me to talk to

him, or dragged him to our house (a lot) for

dinner, I ignored him, gave him dirty looks for

no reason and generally treated him like the

plague. He was probably a nice guy. I think he

owns a café franchise now, drives a BMW and

has three children.

Today, my other brother, now engaged, and I

have non-Greek partners and my parents seem to

have mellowed. My current boyfriend has lasted

four years and has a relatively easy time. It wasn’t

always like that. I remember my mum threatened

to make a souvlaki out of my first boyfriend.

My mum is definitely the emotional one in

the family but shouting is often a sign of a happy

marriage. One night my Mum was yelling at my

Dad, not really in anger, and he just let her go on.

I think he likes to let her be the crazy one. As we

watched her rant away I looked at Dad and said,

“You know she’s going to divorce you one day,

even after 40 years of marriage.” He looked at

me and, without missing a beat, he said, “Is that

a promise?” Deadpan. I know he didn’t mean it.

He just doesn’t get emotional ... about anything.

My Dad is one of those old-school Greek

fathers who sits quietly in the corner at family

events with a Turkish coffee in one hand and a

cigarette in the other. He’s a man of few words

and we have about one conversation a year. This

year it was in the car when I had to drive him to

the doctor. About 10 minutes into the journey he

said, “Are you on your opens [driver’s licence]?” I

looked at him and said, “I’m 27, I’ve been on my

opens for five years.” Then I stopped and kicked

him out of the car ... that’s what we’ll be talking

about next year.

As a young Greek woman today I find life a

bit difficult in certain situations. For example,

managing the hair that grows in places the sun

doesn’t shine requires heavy duty equipment,

so instead of calling a beauty salon I call Jim’s

Mowing service. In extreme cases, like just after

winter, I feel like I’m wearing a full body stocking

under my clothes, so Jim uses extreme measures ...

like back burn.

I have a part-time job in a supermarket and I

work in the deli section which is perfect because

I love feta and olives, so I’ve become expert at

quality checking these items, and checking and

checking and checking until I’m sure they’re

perfect and I’m full. I have just completed my

studies and now I’m a qualified art teacher

looking for a school. So far, I’ve done a few days

of relief work but things didn’t go well at one

school. During the class a student pulled out his

e-cigarette instead of a paintbrush and began to

smoke in the classroom. What a relief! I haven’t

taught since.

SOULLA

PORFYRIOU

is a stand-up comedian with

Brisbane’s Sit Down Comedy

Club. She has been performing

as ‘Soulla Pants’ ever since a

friend dobbed her in for an

open mic session when she

was 17 – and they’re still friends!

She’s still telling funny stories

about growing up Greek at gigs

across Brisbane and interstate,

including the Adelaide and Perth

Fringe Festivals, the Melbourne

Comedy Festival and she’s been

the support act for seasoned

comics such as Akmal and

Merrick Watts. Look out for

her next performance at

www.standup.com.au

Let’s go Greek

Everyone gets a taste of Greek life,

from the honey puffs and dolmades to

zorba dancing, bouzouki playing, plate

smashing, grape stomping and more at

Paniyiri – Queensland’s largest cultural

festival – on 21 and 22 May at Musgrave

Park and the Greek Club, Edmonstone

Street, West End. Television stars

and celebrity chefs will be part of the

entertainment which includes a Greek

style

Dancing with the Stars

competition

and cooking demonstrations. In honour

of the festival’s 40th anniversary a

cookbook has been compiled with

recipes by chefs from restaurants

all over Brisbane and Queensland’s

Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) hosts

a retrospective of the films of Greek

director Theo Angelopoulos until 22 May.

Tickets for Paniyiri, $11.50 adult plus fee

(online). For the program, the cookbook

and tickets see

www.paniyiri.com