I walked through Monastiraki and then took a shortcut to the cafe. It was a quaint cafe, not too little and certainly not overwhelming. It was unassuming, perhaps. The sign wasn’t as visible as it could have been, but the pictures inside made it evident that I was at Melina. The cafe was over 50 years old and was named and themed after Greek actress and international starlet Melina Mercouri.
There were more cups of coffee on the table than people. They were sitting next to the open window. Best spot in the place, where the humidity was slightly taken over by the air conditioning. What did the poor suckers do back in the day, I thought. Fans, I replied to myself.
The server was a very attractive Greek young lady of about 25 years with wide hips ideal for child-bearing. Other than that she was quite attractive with a very minute plastic-looking ring in her right nostril. I took the kataifi.
“It’s been quite a while, ” said Nestor, “decades.”
I greeted him and Zara, his sister, as they both looked like healthy much older caricatures of their younger selves. The topic was politics. How left can we go?
I showed them my spanking new edition of Ριζοσπάστης and Sara’s eyes watered. She hadn’t voted for the Marxists, but they would forever have a place in her heart. We all agreed on the ineptness of the right to go beyond catch phrases. And it served us well. They’d lose like Hillary had.
Then Nestor got very emotional over Macedonia. How dare they name a stupid worthless country after a great empire? Vivi reminded him that this was where Alexander had originally called home.
“And then they name the fucking airport after him. Have you seen them? They’re second-rate Bulgarians,” John said, continuing to rant.
My kataifi was soggy from the excess honey, but was one of the best I’d ever had.
“So Ted,” Voula asked, “did you enjoy your stay? Did you swim enough? ”
“I like to get wet to break the heat, but I love just reading or writing on a chair under an umbrella drinking a nice frappe.”
“Isn’t that bad for your IBS?”
“It’s all nerves they say,” added Vivi. She’d had it for a year. She’d lost over 10 kilos. It had been during a difficult period.
I finished my kataifi.
Then Voula introduced the owner to us and he gave us a brief history of the cafe. It was 10.30 PM. He was very excited, like a man giving you a rundown of his winery. Nostalgia came out of his voice. His father was the original owner and had been a lover, rumour had it, of Melina. He was certainly an admirer.
“She was overrated, ” said Nestor after theowner had left. The 2 women leered at him. He stopped. Begrudgingly. “Let’s go have a tsipouri and some nice mezedes,” he continued. We did.