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For as long as I remember, my Greek grandfather made his living cooking for others.  But on his days off he cooked for us.  This arrangement suited Mom just fine, unless the cooking involved one of Papa’s many attempts to make the Greek-style yogurt of his childhood.

 

Each try left the stove caked in burnt clabbered milk that he didn’t care to clean. So he didn’t.  And while Mom wasn’t the best housekeeper in the world, even she couldn’t stand Papa’s messes. So it was just a matter of time before Mom’s pent up anger would boil over like lava out of Mt. Olympus in a fiery slamming of doors and drawers as she grabbed her cleaning supplies.  When Mom was mad, she didn’t care who knew it, as long as the perpetrator was included.  But in this, Mom was denied even the smallest pleasure of justice being served, as Papa had perfected his art of selective hearing.

  

Papa drove others to anger with his driving.  Aunt Carol sums it up this way: 

“He invented road rage.”

Oblivious to the wrath he left in his wake, Papa cruised around town in his land yacht of an automobile – a white and aqua 1955 Chrysler Windsor. He rode window down, arm out, cigarette lit, eyes never wavering from the road.  I’m pretty sure he didn’t believe in using mirrors. To compensate for this, he only drove one speed—Slooow.  He once told me not to drive over 35.  And this was after the Oklahoma Highway Patrol had pulled him over on I-40 for doing just this — driving slower than the posted legal minimum speed of 40.

  

His driving on city streets was no safer.  Often, when he pulled into traffic, he was met with the sound of tires screeching, the smell of burnt rubber, and the screams of frightened grandchildren huddled in the backseat.  My cousin Deb recalls him doing this even to this day.  He would always turn around and wave it off as a “slight” driving hiccup in his heavily accented, slightly mangled English:

“Ahhhh…., don’t worry.  They all got brakes.”

His driving snafus weren’t all speed-related.  Mom loved to tell the story of Papa pulling out against traffic on a busy one-way street in downtown OKC.  When brought to his attention, Papa waved it off, saying:

“I’m only going one way….”

All these near collisions may explain the police siren he had installed on his car by a smpathetic mechanic.  Maybe he thought it would be easier to merge into traffic if his siren made it come to a standstill.    dsc01217a1  

 

I never understood why Papa was so driven to make his yogurt.  But this I know:  His yogurt-making pursuits never did stand still.  And if his childhood yogurt tasted anything like this wonderful yogurt I recently purchased at Crescent Market– marketed under the name The Greek Gods—well…. I can say I finally understand.  Papa wouldn’t let a few angry people deter him from his quest for this childhood delight. After all, what could mere mortals do to him? 

 

It’s not like they were the Greek gods.

 

 –Thanks Kyle for a grand job of editing. 

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