Wednesday, November 17, 2010



In 1988, bereft any reason, I made a deal with Joy to get us to Greece if I agreed to marriage. Joy was keeping a pretty tight leash on me and after her divorce we decided for some insane reason to find out how difficult it would be to get married in Greece. Being a fan of Socrates and Plato, I really needed to walk on the same stones they did in the Agora so many thousand years ago. We prepared months ahead before embarking for Greece by visiting the Greek Embassy in San Francisco, filling out several long forms. When we did arrive in Athens for only two weeks, we began a long round of searching out various public buildings, then the American Embassy, waiting in lines, buying small postage like stamps that had a perforated corner that certain officials would tear off and keep. Never did know what that was all about. At one point we had to find the Athens newspaper, place an ad about our impending fiasco, then wait a couple of days to search thru the paper where the want ads and notices all look alike to try and find our notice. They don’t use the same alphabet as it looks similar to Russian, but we finally spotted the name of my father, Harry, kind of written mostly in English. That tipped us off and we cut it out and ran (well, took a bus) back to the official who told us we would have to wait a month as they only marry folks once a month. This was not becoming fun anymore, why didn’t we just go to Tijuana Mexico where we could do the whole thing in an hour? During our panic period (We were scheduled to get to France) we were told by someone that one of the suburban towns might be able to do it. A friend called around and found that the town of Palio Pasihiko would be able to do the deed.
We found the town, a suburb of Athens, where the town hall was in an older mansion. Fortunately a Brit expat worked there as a secretary and she really got excited about the whole affair as she didn’t think they had ever had a wedding there. Bully! However, the Mayor could do it but wouldn’t be back for a week .That would work, as we wanted to stay on the idyllic island of Santorini anyway. We’ll be back in a week.
We trained to Piraeus, the ancient port nearby and caught a huge ferry to the island, checked into the Atlantis Hotel, the largest there. It didn’t take us but a few hours to realize there was an idyllic small Hotel Fira, cascading over the edge of the caldera for the same price. We bailed out of the Atlantis, hired a donkey to carry our bags down to our new fabulous digs. Here we stayed for a week sipping Ouzo, watching the tiny cruise ships a thousand feet straight down in the caldera.
During this time all was not bliss as we had to fill out more papers, where we ran into a couple of snags. Number one, you can’t get married more than three times and there was some concern of how many times I was. This would be my third. The next problem, in this Catholic nation, Joy and I had written Atheist and agnostic under religion. We quickly changed our status and although this would be my third, it was barely OK. Fortunately, we had spent a lot of time in a local cantina and befriended the owner, Papadakulas, who had the hots for Joy,(Shirley Valentine?) whose wife worked in the American Embassy in Athens. She managed to straighten the mess out and by the time we got back to Athens, everything was cool.
The mayor duly wed us, although he spoke no English, with the secretary spouting “Bully!” every few minutes. A short ceremony, I signed the document after Mr. Mayor, and Joy stepped up to the desk to sign but was rebuffed, the mayor looking at her as if she was crazy and informed us the wife does not participate to that extent. Oh well, at least we did the whole thing, Joy will just have to learn to walk ten feet behind me. Time to get out of Dodge as our boat to Brindisi, Italy is due to shove off that evening. We ran to the nearest taxi stand, a couple of blocks, where there stood several Mercedes. However, today was a smog day in Athens and only even numbered taxis were allowed in the city, and all these at this stand were odd numbered. We were frothing at the mouth by the time they found out we were newlyweds, made some calls, and got one to come by and directly pick up our bags at the hotel and drive the hundred kilometers to the port of Patras. It’s really hot in summer Greece and our driver kept falling asleep at the wheel. I had to constantly holler at him, punch him on the arm, to keep him awake long enough to get us to the port.
We arrived just in time to find out that the ship company was on strike . It would be hours before they got that resolved and were admitted to a small, Spartan stateroom with a couple of small bunks. We sailed off into the sunset, stopping at Corfu where Joy tossed her flower tiara onto the waters of the harbor. That was just too romantic!
However, the worst was over, and the happy couple pretty much lived happily ever after, bickering majestically.