Sunday, June 12, 2016

Eating Bugs

In Epirus Greece, there is a small village named Margariti. The love I have for this village, some say, is due to a rigorous long-term brain washing . . . which might be true, but it's a love just the same, a love that took hold slowly and evolved as Margariti evolved.

My first encounter with the village was without a doubt something that did not produce feelings of love or anything close to it. It was 1983. Women were somewhat segregated from men so my actions, such as sitting in a cafe with my husband, were grossly against the societal norm.

Nick was the first person who'd ever married a foreigner. And people came from great distances to see the American. I'm pretty sure they were disappointed. Their ideas of Americans came from movies and newspapers. American women were blond and busty like Marilyn Monroe, not dark-haired and flat-chested.

In the memoir The Nifi, I sit quietly next to Nick during each of the many visits as villagers come to greet him after his long absence from Greece and to get a glimpse of his American nifi.

Below is an excerpt:

        As time crept forward and the villagers came to get a look at the American, I did my best to sit, smile, nod and listen to the buzz of incomprehensible conversation. When I would say anything to Nick, all movement would stop as the ever-captive audience would become entranced in the gibberish between us. So, naturally, when a bug was trapped within one of my muffled yawns and I felt it flit about my palate, given the choice of a hacking spit with no hope of explaining my behavior or an unnoticed swallow, I chose the latter. It just seemed more tolerable to me. 
        "I want to go home!" Tears streamed down my face. I tried to sob as quietly as possible, enclosed in the small room, Nick's sisters on the other side of the door. We'd been there less than a week. 

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