Revenge of the Alpha and the Betas in Round Two of Miss Kid's adventures in Athens

Map-less, clue-less and direction-less, lost in a maze of incomprehensible alpha and beta signage, Miss Niece was in quite the conundrum, to say the least.  Miles away from her Athens hotel, she was in quite the pickle, a forlorn foreigner traipsing around unfamiliar rues and avenues.  Tongue-tied and rendered virtually illiterate by her inability to understand the local lingo, she had inadvertently strayed far from the beaten path, and was fast on the road to nowhere. 

It was ALL her wacky ol’ Auntie Nora’s fault, as if it weren’t for her delusional shopaholic relative, the satchel and shiny trinket hoarding old Bag, she would be out gallivanting with her gaggle of girlfriends, instead of being in this most unfortunate of predicaments.  She had foolishly promised to check out the “handbag emporium of all time”, located a hop, skip and jump away from the Metro station, just up the street and around the corner.  Yeah right.  Miss Kid had been meandering for quite some time, the late afternoon heat prickling her now sun-burnt Canadian skin, her hot pink-manicured tootsies oozing newly sprouted blisters, their bloody rawness a painful reminder of one too many ill begotten steps. 

A parade of shops littered the pathways, beckoning one to amble on in, stay awhile and trade colourful bills for handcrafted souvenirs, an economically beneficial exchange of cash for goods.  The only drawback being that most of the shopkeepers in this neck of the woods, far away from the city center, spoke but a spattering of English, their vocabularies limited to “that beautiful whatever thing-a-ma-jig costs such and such” and “it’s an unique one of a kind authentic made in Greece, you’ll never find it elsewhere exclusive item”.  Auntie Nora would have had a field day, excitedly bantering back and forth about the price of handbags and shipping costs to Canada, able to hold her own and converse as if native born.  Who knew that her wacky ol’ Auntie’s insistence to memorize all words related to the subject of shopping and acquisition would prove to be ever so useful, immediately forging an immediate bond between both seller and shopaholic? 

Miss Kid, on the other hand, had not such an advantage, prone to neither frenzied bargain addictions nor those types of exorbitant indulgences, focusing instead on appreciating the cultural landscape and snapping digital memories of the vacation inclined kind.  But, a Kid’s gotta do what a Kid’s gotta do in order to escape this maze of laneways and perplexing alpha betas, if she were to high tail it back to her hotel by nightfall.  Mustering up all of her courage, Miss Lioness took a deep breath, swung open the door and stepped inside a crowded little shop that was literally over-flowing with a cornucopia of knick-knacks and ceramic treasures, all of which would stop her ol’ Auntie cold in her tracks.  Treading carefully so as not to jostle the merchandise and risk being labelled the proverbial bull in the china shop reckless foreigner, the clamour of smashed vases and dinner plates echoing in her head, Le Niece ever so carefully picked up one such earthenware and headed to the cash – figuring that a prospective purchase could buy that much needed extra kinship from a kindly old shopkeeper.  Or so she thought.

What transpired next is akin to a laugh out loud series of comic events of the funny now but not then awkwardly frozen moments in time, of the oh so embarrassingly uncomfortable kind.  For you see, the kindly old shopkeepers absolutely freaked upon seeing Miss Kid casually stroll to the cash, delicately cradling a terra cotta stoneware, unaware of the “do not touch” signs placed prominently on each and every shelf.  Signs?  What signs?  Ohhhhhhhhhh, those signs!  Well, it was all Greek to her, those fancy symbol lettered alpha, betas, epsilons and zetas, spelling out mysterious directives to those in the know, leaving clued out foreigners like you know who grasping for dictionaries in the dark.  You know the ones, those annoyingly irritating globetrotters who hadn’t even bothered to learn the basics of the local lingo and tuck a couple of handy dandy useful phrases away, for those unexpected “just in case” inevitable stumbles.

And then, on the opposite side of the spectrum, are those overly eager beavers, the know it all’s, anxious to impress, spewing out nouns, verbs and adjectives, as they un-eloquently butcher the local tongue, succeeding only in leaving not so favourable impressions of the cringe-worthy kind.  But hey, to their credit, at least they tried.

And the moral of the story is?

The revenge of the Alpha Betas had struck once again, victorious in Round One, unbeatable in Round Two.

Stay tuned for Round Three – it’s Miss Kid versus the Epsilons and Zetas - Winner take all.

Oh….did Miss Niece eventually make it back to her hotel?  Well, that’s a tale for another day, perhaps even for next week’s blog post!!  Stay tuned for more Miss-adventures of the Miss Kid kind!!

Come meander along cobblestoned rues and avenues in a quest to out-run the Alphas and the Omegas on a map and dictionary search to end all searches…. come gallivant around the globe with Miss Niece and see what escapades await next week!!

Photos or lack of - Miss Niece neglected to send her ol' Auntie more photos, so I had no choice but to work with what few I already had - Photos - courtesy of Maradzidra

Pink Sneaker Tidbits of Fascinating Facts and Interesting Info:

Most people have heard of the Greek time-honoured custom of smashing plates at weddings and celebrations, but have you any inkling of a clue as to the origins of this custom? 

Smashing plates was thought to ward off evil spirits, bring good luck and usher in good spirits and an abundance of joy.

Kefi – the overwhelming expression of joy, passion, emotion, high spirits, happiness and enthusiasm, just to name a few.  Not to be mixed up with Kefir. 

Another belief as to the origins of smashing earthenware stems from ancient Greece, where the ritual of “killing” the ceramic vessels used for the feasts commemorating the deceased was a “controlled” method of coping with the loss of a loved one.  Over the passage of time, this ritual eventually evolved into a celebratory tradition.

Yet another belief suggests that this ritual began when a prosperous family invited a destitute one to dinner, insisting that they break the plates, so as to cement the bonds of friendship, as friendship is inherently more valuable than plates.

In ancient times, when lovers parted, they often broke a plate, each keeping one half, which would then be easily recognized and matched up, upon meeting the other again many years or even decades later.

Not surprisingly, the tradition of breaking plates in bars and restaurants was banned in 1969, as shards of glass and ceramic made for quite the dangerous practice.  Establishments that chose to continue this tradition were required by law to obtain a license. The majority of bars and restaurants nowadays have replaced plate throwing with flower tossing instead – a much less messy and more fragrant option!!

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