When I was twenty-one years old I moved to a small town on the west coast of Greece called Preveza. Because I lived in a large, whitewashed two-bedroom apartment near the ocean, I quickly acquired two weekend roommates. Gregor and Angus, Englishman and Irishman respectively, stayed in my spare bedroom every weekend, preferring Preveza’s limited nightlife to the surrounding villages, where they both lived. And who wouldn’t prefer Preveza? With four whole bars and dozens of judgmental, gossiping residents, Preveza was by far the best town in Epiros.
My weekend roommates caused much ruckus in my adoptive Greek town, and said ruckus was duly noted by the locals since there were only about six foreigners living in the area. And although I often jest about Gregor and Angus’s drunken shenanigans, I was usually involved. However, on the particular weekend on which this story takes place, I had made the unprecedented responsible decision to go home around midnight after noticing that things were on a rapid, downhill spiral of increasing belligerence. Gregor and Angus had a tendency to steal potted plants for my “balcony-beautification project” on their intoxicated walks back from the bar, and I didn’t want to be associated with any plant-stealing after what had happened earlier that week.
Townspeople were already questioning my chastity after having been sighted Tuesday evening at the town grocery store buying milk with Gaso, my friend Anita’s boyfriend, an event which prompted much interrogation by Preveza’s residents about the nature of my relationship with this man.
“Did you see The American yesterday?! She was at the grocery store. With Mr. Gaso.”
“Yes, I know! Do you think Miss Anita knows he was with (pause for anticipated shock)… ANOTHER WOMAN!?”
What a tramp, that American!
Hearsay abound, I had been on extra good behavior. No buying milk at the grocery store with strange men. Likewise, chill out on the public inebriation for a week or so.
Anyways, back to this particular weekend. Sunday morning arrived and I was feeling great! (Read: not hung over.) I slid onto my balcony, which overlooked a beautiful lemon grove, the Mediterranean Sea in the distance. I took a deep, relaxed breath to appreciate the beautiful view, and turned my head to see… a street sign. On my balcony. Amidst the balcony beautification project. A street sign in upright position, anchored in a giant bucket of cement. Where the hell did that come from!?
“Damnit, part time roommates!” I cursed, shaking my fist in the air.
My neighbors were certainly going to notice this. The town was going to notice this. Hell, there were only like four street signs in the whole damn town and one of them was currently on my balcony. I could already imagine the ample rumors circulating about The American.
However, this sign was quite peculiar; I read it several times… Wha wha wha what?
Yep, I’d read that correctly.
I really had to get this thing back where it came from.
I squatted down to lift the sign from its cement base. Holy shit, fuck me! The damn thing weighed over a hundred pounds!
“Fucking leprechaun!” I cursed. I was certain this was Angus’s idea. An inebriated Irish ginger is not to be trusted.
I stormed back into the apartment, jerking open the door to the spare bedroom to find the boys both fast asleep, snoring away in the little twin bed sleeping foot to face, despite a cell phone alarm’s incessant beeping filling the room. I wrinkled my nose. God, this room reeks! I thought. I dug around for the offending cell phone; the alarm had been sounding since 4am.
“Angus,” I hissed at the leprechaun, sitting down on the bed beside his head, tussling his curly ginger locks.
My attention suddenly diverted to my bare foot. Was my foot wet? No, couldn’t be. No explanation for that.
“Angus…” I hissed slightly louder than the last time.
Seriously, why does my foot feel wet? I lifted the blanket that draped over the floor where my feet were planted… right in a pile of vomit.
“ANGUS!” I screamed, jumping to my feet, only squishing the chunky mass further between my toes. Both Gregor and Angus sat up, startled into Good Morning panic.
“WHAT!? What’s wrong?” Gregor asked, springing into upright position, looking around confused, as one does when they’re woken up abruptly.
“To start with, I’m standing in a pile of vomit.”
“Oh, God, I’m sorry, that’s probably me,” confessed Angus, unruffled and rubbing his eyes.
“And why the hell has your cell phone alarm been going off for the last six hours, Gregor?” I asked, unsure which transgression to start with.
“We were going to wake back up to throw rocks at the Nicropoli.”
The Nicropoli was the swankiest of Preveza’s few drinking establishments.
“Why were you going to throw rocks at the Nicropoli?” I asked. These damn boys were going to get us all blacklisted from every bar in town. I already couldn’t go back to my second favorite Preveza bar because of the swing dancing incident.
“They wouldn’t let us in!” Angus chimed, oozing bitterness.
“They said we were too drunk,” said Gregor.
I nodded. Good judgment, Nicropoli.
“Really sorry about the vomit, I’ll clean it up,” Angus added.
“I’m a little more concerned about the present you guys left me on the balcony.”
Angus and Gregor look at each other, confused. Blank.
“What present?” asked Angus.
“More vomit?” asked Gregor.
“A street sign,” I answered.
“What kind?” asked Angus.
“Like a stop sign?” asked Gregor.
“No, it says: ‘No Parking. Donkeys Only’.”
“Where did we find it?” asked Angus.
“How big is it?” asked Gregor.
“It’s not so much big as it is heavy.” I answered.
“Why is it on the balcony?” asked Angus.
“How did we get it up the stairs?” asked Gregor.
“How should I know?” I answered.
“Should’ve stuck with stealing plants,” said Angus.
Gregor, Angus and I never did discover the origins of the Donkeys Only sign. We did manage to push it inside and into my bedroom, where it lived for the rest of my stay in Greece… and possibly beyond. The morning I left Preveza, still unable to move it, I covered the sign, cement anchor and all, with a bed sheet and sped out the door before my landlord could question me.
I hope Donkeys Only was eventually returned to its rightful owner. Then again, there were no donkeys in town, so I doubt they ever missed their priority parking.