(Originally in Fevered Mutterings v3).
This is a story about the importance of marketing.
I’m sat in a cafe outside the Hotel Epidavros near Omonia Square, Athens, on a gently roasting July day. I’m drinking Greek coffee, carefully. If you’re not Greek this is how you drink Greek coffee, because they don’t filter the grounds out.
The cafe proprieter looks like a friendlier Tony Soprano (you can see him up there). He’s biting a thumbnail and watching me with interest, possibly because I’m obviously not Greek and it’s always funny seeing foreigners spluttering and choking after a mouthful of coffee grounds.
All I want, all I really need out of life this instant, is for the entire world (including κύριε Soprano) to take a hike so I can finish reading Sofka Zinovieff’s Eurydice Street: A Place In Athens, already my favourite ‘expat embraces new culture’ travel book, and I haven’t even finished it yet. (It’s still my favourite, 2 years on).
If anyone interrupts me, well, I’d probably tear their arm off and use it to…
“Mister, you want jewelry?”
His eyes never stop moving. Maybe that’s how he stays one step ahead of the local police. Lean and erratically shaven, he looks like a Mediterranean version of Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler. From under a greasy-looking robe he pulls out a jangle of inauthentic-looking bling.
“Special jewelry. Very special.”
“Yes, I can see that.” Some of it is chipped, exposing dull grey plastic. “No, thank you. I don’t want to buy anything.”
He’s unfazed and already has his next sales-pitch lined up, like bullets in a magazine. “Perhaps you wanting towel? Soft towel, very towel.”
David Beckham stares up at me from the centre of a terryclothed abomination. He has a haunted look around his eyes.
“No. Nothing. Thank you. I don’t wish to be rude, but….”
“I get asthma. With the greatest respect, please, just piss off.”
“Books? Dan Brown?”
Dan Brown. I wonder what the penalty for daylight murder is in Greece. “I do not wish to buy anything. There is absolutely nothing you can offer me that I would be remotely interested in. You will not sell me anything. It cannot happen. So go away before I have you removed by the New Jersey mafia.”
“You want to buy condoms? Ten per box, special offer. Extra Extra Large size, for big man like you, yes?”
So I bought a hundred boxes.
My point here is that marketing always gets us in the end. It’s just a matter of time.