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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The Tucson Greek Festival in an hour and a half

    Andi Berlinarts columnist
    Andi Berlin
    arts columnist

    I had plans Friday night to see the Loft’s premiere of “”Poultrygeist,”” the movie in which chicken zombies terrorize a fast-food joint built over an Indian burial ground by cutting off various people’s limbs and making a fat man spontaneously combust on the toilet. But I was hungry. The movie started at 9, and it was only 7.

    “”Let’s go to the Greek festival,”” my editor Jamie said when we were driving down Grant Road.

    “”Are we going to have enough time?”” I asked.

    “”Sure, you can get a salad or something, then leave.””

    “”All right, as long as I don’t miss Ron Jeremy,”” I replied, and this is where it all began.

    Jamie and I parked on First Avenue and Fort Lowell next to some place called Molly G’s and then walked a few blocks until we reached an intimidating array of jumping castles in a parking lot. Then the impossible happened: children.

    They were everywhere – jumping, running, spitting, being. I don’t have a problem with children, but the sheer numbers startled me until I realized that was because there were even more other people.

    As we approached the site, we saw a swarming mass of uncoordinated bodies moving everywhere, checking their watches, tapping their feet, yelling and bumping into one another. But the biggest heap of flesh was in the mind-bogglingly gigantic line Jamie and I stepped into. The space was like the queues you see at the triple-looped roller coasters; it wound around eternally until you finally stepped into a short matrix of lanes that go back and forth in opposite directions. The lines in which everyone is forced to stare at the people in front of them when they pass one another, judging their outfits and lives. I hate those lines.

    But there we stood. And kept standing for another 20 minutes. At 7:45 p.m., I looked at my watch and realized I had been staring at a 14-year-old with a baby tacked to her chest for almost a half an hour.

    This is small, I thought, when I finally paid my $3 and stepped in. There were only a couple food stands, a few arts-and-crafts tables for kids and one beer tent. The whole thing was like a clown car. Where did everybody go?

    “”Oh, my friends are in the back,”” Jamie said, one ear nestled in a phone. “”They’re getting some food if you want some.””

    “”What back?”” I said.

    When we passed through a room and emerged out of the other side of a corridor, I felt like I was in one of those science fiction scenes in which the camera approaches a metropolis and the viewer is in awe of the bustling city crammed with people.

    This back area stretched on for what seemed like an entire block, with belly dancers on a stage at the end, and in between a multitude of long tables stacked together and hundreds of people carrying and eating from trays. The image of it all was so overwhelming that I had to duck back into the room for a second to compose myself.

    In there, I remembered my hunger. The pity was, most of the people at this festival were either eating delicious-looking plates of chicken or in line to get some. And I was so sick of lines. Even if I didn’t have to leave in a half an hour, I wouldn’t have stood in line again. So I searched around for a few minutes and ended up next to an array of traditional pastries. I began to point feverishly at the treats, but the elderly Greek lady was confused by my antics.

    “”I’ll have one of those white things,”” I pointed to a tray of powdered crackers.

    “”Two,”” the woman said, but I could barely hear her over the cornucopia of voices.

    “”No, one. I just want one.””

    “”The kourabiethes. You get two,”” she said. “”The melomakarona you get one of, koulourakia you get three, amigthalota one and krasokouloura, four.””

    “”What?””

    “”Here you go.”” The woman filled my box up and sent me to the register.

    By the time Jamie and I found an empty table in the masses, I had already knocked three children in the head with my arm. It was impossible to avoid them, and they were swerving in and out of tight spaces like impatient motorcyclists. When I sat down, Jamie had to get up again to meet a friend at the flaming-cheese tent. Alone, I opened my box of assorted baklava lookalikes, and commenced eating my dinner. But my loud mouth got the best of me when I dropped a powder cracker and covered my black shirt with white dust.

    “”Goddammit!”” I screamed at the top of my lungs. Suddenly, I realized three mothers were staring at me and I was facing a Greek Orthodox stained glass window of a saint. I had to get out of there. Finally, Jamie and her friends came back and gave me a spinach pie, or spanakopita as they called it and I mispronounced. I consumed the pie in less than two minutes, still hungry, but assured myself that seeing “”Poultrygeist”” on a full stomach was probably a bad idea anyway. But then again, even fake blood, people vomiting and chicken with green pimples filled with pus couldn’t have made me more nauseous than I already was.

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