Adonis in adidas, p.1
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       Adonis in Adidas, p.1

           Kate Dempsey
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Adonis in Adidas
Adonis in Adidas


  Kate Dempsey

  Copyright Kate Dempsey 2011

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  Se?n was gorgeous, an Adonis in Adidas with a huge grin that would make anyone smile. I had been in shock ever since he asked me out, gazing into space in class muttering "Moira and Se?n, Se?n and Moira." We had only known each other a few months before we set off Greek Island hopping together. I was madly in love with him and so was he. Apart from that, we didn't have much in common. He was training to be a surveyor and I was struggling through catering college but my mother loved him. He had a way with mothers.

  We were on a tight budget but the pre-Euro living was cheap and the island of Paros had the best pizzas in the Aegean. The tomatoes were so fresh, we could see them growing in great gangly clusters behind the restaurant. The local wine was drinkable too. (You know the type. It tastes like a urine sample when you get it home, but under a foreign sun, it slides down like nectar.)

  The beach was to one side of the small town. Beyond the windmill with its washing line sails, it petered out to shingle. A straggled line of trees provided shade. As the sun plopped into Homer's wine dark sea, groups of people sauntered up to the edge and staked claims on the soft sand with rolled up sleeping bags. The breeze was keeping most of the mosquitoes away but I slapped some stinky repellent on my exposed skin, just in case.

  "Do you want some?" I asked Se?n, waggling the bottle under his nose.

  He flared his perfect nostrils. "You know they don't bite me, Moira." He checked his smile was as white as ever in my handbag mirror and sat watching some French girls in lethal cutoff shorts who were bruising their perfect knees trying to break sticks for firewood.

  "We'll stay here tonight," he decided.

  "I'm not so sure that's a good idea," I started.

  Now, I was not known at the time for my spontaneity nor my easy agreement to experimentation. I was always the one carrying aspirins and plasters. If factor 100 suncream existed, I would have had that too. My shoulder bag weighed more than a small Labrador. This had been driving Se?n crazy.

  "Come on. Sleeping under the stars? Wait until I tell the others. They'll be so green." When I hesitated, he crinkled his beautiful forehead. "Don't be an old fogey, Moira. Try something new."

  The fire smouldered to a start and soon resin scented smoke drew the various huddles into one group. We sat cross-legged, passing bottles and swapping stories of cheap ferries, cheaper rooms and nudist beaches with the multi-lingual, multi-cultural campers. Soon the restrained splashes of the waves were drowned out by bad but enthusiastic singing. One girl thought she was Kylie. Se?n knew he was Bob Dylan and he had the whine to prove it.

  Hoarse from singing and dizzy from drink, we crawled into our sandy bags as the stars were fading and the black sky was thinking about turning blue again. Maybe this outdoor sleeping was romantic after all, I thought, rolling closer to Se?n's sleeping bag.

  I was woken by a shiny boot. As I swam up to consciousness, I could hear scuffles and shouted whispers around - "Schnell," "Allez." Half the night time group melted into the trees, some so quickly they left their sleeping bags behind, still caterpillared in sleeping forms.

  I squinted up at the sky. "Kalimera?" I said, squandering a quarter of my Greek vocabulary in one go. There were three uniforms. They took everyone's passports and told us to report to the station at noon.

  We consulted our raggedy guide book over coffee, but it didn't cover our situation. Wheelchair access? Page 42. Jellyfish stings? Pee on them. (Failing that, maybe the local wine?) Unlicensed taxis? Yes. Passport confiscation? Nothing.

  "This is all your fault." I hissed.

  "That's typical. Haven't you got anything useful to say?" he hissed back.

  By noon, we had worked ourselves into a tizzy. Se?n said they would escort us to the border and send us into exile. I thought they were looking for bribes. Maybe they would call our parents. This didn't bear thinking about. We ordered a round of Tuborg. Stories from other travellers mentioned fines of hundreds of thousands of drachmas - a thousand pounds or more. Neither of us had that kind of money. We drained our glasses and shuffled up the hill to the police station.

  The queue of sheepish travellers stretched around the corner, past the sweet smelling bakers and down the sunny side of the square. Forget that. We skipped back to the caf? and ordered a goats' cheese pizza from Zorba, our new friend. After a while, I went back to scout out the queue, but there was little movement, just a line of silent, sunburnt people. We splashed out on some rice pudding and Zorba, his mother and his extraordinarily handsome son joined us from the kitchen for a fortifying glass of ouzo, then we stretched and wove our way back to the square. The queue was gone. All that was left was a battered moped leaning against the whitewashed wall.

  I tapped on the door but before we could run away, a voice yelled out something in Greek that could only have meant, "Come in." We trooped inside, heads hanging.

  The man in the shiny boots sat behind a battered Formica desk. He slapped our passports on the desk and studied each photo intently, checking our faces, one slightly pink, the other crimson. We both spoke at once.

  "We only came in on a ferry last night, too late to find a room."

  "We're very sorry, really we are."

  He sat back in his plastic chair. A labouring fan moved the hot air around.

  "You," he said. "You are from Ingerlaand?"

  "Yes," I replied, smiling in a hot, sweaty English Rose sort of a way. "Have you ever been there?"

  "My mather have."

  Se?n was studying the toes of his greying trainers with great interest. I was on my own.

  "How did your mother like it?" I tried.

  "Werry nice. Werry cold. Here is better."

  "My mother was in Greece last summer," I said after a pause. "She loved it." Conversations about mothers seemed like a good approach. "She said the people were very friendly and very kind," I added for good measure.

  "Oh yes," he said, shaking his head the way the Greeks do when they agree with you. "Werry kind."

  He slicked his black hair behind his ears and studied me. I leaned forward and made admiring remarks about Paros, his office, his command of English, the local goats' cheese pizzas and Greece in general. I was running out of things to praise and close to mentioning the wine when he started telling us about himself. Well, to be honest, he told me. He barely glanced at Se?n after that.

  He said how hard it was being a policeman, especially in the summer. How he had a motorbike for patrolling the island and had been run off the road by a busload of tourists. His leg was still giving him trouble. I nodded and sympathised in what seemed like the right places. He could represent Greece in a contest for talking about himself. But I was up to it, having already endured two weeks of Se?n, the English candidate.

  At last, he stood up, straightened his leg with a wince and slammed his fist on the desk. We jumped.

  "You know how much is the fine for sleeping on the beach?" he demanded.


  "One hundred drachma." He rolled the H with a dramatic flourish. This was about 70p, some thousand times less than we had expected.

  "One hundred drachma?" I repeated. Maybe he had left out a zero. Se?n swallowed, struggling not to laugh. That would
have gone down like a wodge of Zorba's extra thick pizza. "Gosh."

  "Yes. It is serious crime. Sleeping on the beach is not good. Not safe. We have many good rooms in Paros. Where you stay tonight?"

  I mentioned a local taverna.

  "Good." He paused and broke into a wide grin. "OK. I let you go. You werry nice Ingerlish girl. Hab a nice day!" He gave us back our passports, shook our hands warmly and wouldn't take our money.

  "What was that about your mother?" asked Se?n, back in Zorba's. "You know she hasn't been further than Southend."

  "It worked, didn't it? And thanks for all your help."

  "You were doing fine on your own. You didn't need me."

  Se?n was right. I didn't need him so I decided I would try something new. I gave him my mirror and put him on the next ferry with the French girls and no regrets but I stayed on the island for the rest of the summer, working in Zorba's restaurant. I went back the next summer too, on my own. My mother was so disappointed in me. We would have had such beautiful children but Se?n moved away to Halifax. I heard he grew stout and balding and lost his boyish features. But for that one summer, he was my Adonis in Adidas.


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