Not two minutes ago my phone rang.
"Hello, Christy?" [The heavily-accented Greek man's translation of the equivalent of my name Christen] "This is Kosmas, your neighbor across the street. [A moment's pause as he waits for me to say, "mm-hmmm," but I can't slip in another word because he rushes ahead] "You gonna be home in a few minutes? I gonna bring you a few somethings."
This conversation, or a variation of it happens semi-weekly at our home. The "few somethings" could be any number of foods--large plates of Greek cookies to be dipped in coffee, or fresh string beans from a garden carefully tended, zuchinis the size of my arm, gooey cakes, date candies or enormous pans of homemade baklava. Indeed, the treasures may be different, but the conversation, the conversation is always the same.
In each call, Kosmas, our Greek octogenarian neighbor has to identify himself immediately as the Kosmas who is the neighbor across the street, as if we might mistake him with other neighbors, as if we might accidentally confuse him with the neighbor next door, for instance, as if we might accidentally interchange cute, 120 lb., stooped and balding Kosmas (the one across the street) with, next-door neighbor Elmo, Elmo who has broad shoulders and weighs in at about 250 lbs. and has skin a beautiful dark ebony. Which neighbor again? Oh yes, Kosmas, the neighbor across the street.
Or as if, R. and I have a whole host of Kosmases that we regularly come in contact with and Kosmas must distinguish himself from them. Oh, the Kosmas across the street as opposed to the Kosmas at the Mexican restaurant down the road, or the Kosmas at the public library, or the Kosmas in the Swedish folkdancing group...oh, you mean you're the Kosmas across the street!
R. and I have grown to love this little ritual...almost as much as we love the bounty of food our gentle and loving Greek neighbors bring us.
I hung up the phone and said to R. "Kosmas is bringing something over." And R. doesn't skip a beat when he says, "Which one?"