Harpur Palate: Wild Life
One of the first essays I wrote about the complications of being Greek-American, centering on what happens when your Greek family comes to visit and turns your world upside down.
The essay is unavailable online, but it begins:
“Just after noon on June 16th, 1986, my reward for a year of good grades and being through with elementary school arrived in the mail. The sheer size of the package, though it was mostly stuffed with Styrofoam peanuts, signaled that my attention to grades, my constant adherence to the rules and assignments, had paid off. My closest (and only) friend, Crystal, had longed for a new Huffy bike—a red number with a white basket—but she’d pulled a “C” in English and a “C+” in Social Studies. Secretly, I was a little glad since she’d knocked my choice of gifts, claiming that it was one of the three times in the whole year when I could get whatever I wanted, and I shouldn’t waste it on more “schooly stuff.” There’s your “C” in English. Anyway, I scored a much coveted plastic, Kelly green file box with the words “Illustrated Wildlife Treasury” on the front and my first set of 20 glossy cards, a different animal on each. I set right out to filing them alphabetically, aardwolf to zorille, though later, as more cards arrived, I arranged them by zoological classification. This was easier than it sounds since there was a legend on the front of each card, a black outline that indicated which phylum each creature was a member of. A silhouetted snake or udders made all the difference between reptilia and mammalia…”
The essay appears in Vol. 11, No. 2, and can be found here.