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How to Pick Up a Greek Festival Volunteer

April 26, 2004

This weekend marks the start of the 2004 Greek Festival Season with St. George’s kicking things off on Friday night. The Guys @ DCGreeks.com present a fool-proof guide to picking up the busiest of all Greek-American young adults on these weekends, the Greek Festival Volunteers.

You’ve seen her at every Greek festival for the past five years. You ask yourself the series of questions that many a guy has asked himself since churches first decided it was a good idea to serve barbecued meat on a piece of flat bread and charge $3 dollars more for it than you could get it at a diner.

Who is that magnificent creature?
Did she smile at me when I bought 10 loukoumades because she liked me, or because she smiles at everyone when she takes their money?
How could I possibly ever talk to her?
Do you think she’ll notice if I just sit here and stare at her for the rest of the night?

You’ve seen him at every Greek Night you’ve ever been to, but this is the first time you’ve seen him during the daylight hours. You’re surprised to see him wearing an apron and standing behind the gyro booth. You ask yourself the series of questions that many a girl has asked herself since D.C. area Philhellenes have come home with cheesecloth-thin size small men’s undershirts shirts with the Acropolis printed on them. 

Who is that guy?
A guy volunteering out of the goodness of his heart? Impossible. His girlfriend must be the cashier, or his mother must have put him up to it.
Do you think he can see me behind all that smoke and flame?
If I bought a gyro just to talk to him, would I have to actually finish it?

If you’re a guy or a girl and have yourself in these situations, you’ve fallen into the curse of being attracted to a Greek Festival volunteer. Left unexplored, this fascination could leave you 1-2-3-kick-1-kick-ing yourself from spring to fall, and in the case of some of the church festivals, like St. George’s and Sts. Constantine & Helen’s in D.C., it could be a year until you get the chance to see that person again. Knowing that this could be your only chance this season to meet that cutie kataifi koukla or that suave souvlaki slinger, you panic and look for the deepest darkest corner of the church basement in which to hide. But fear not, Forlorn Festival Frequenter because you are now armed with the ultimate guide to picking up the Greek Festival Volunteer of your dreams, The DCGreeks.com Guide to Picking Up a Greek Festival Volunteer

We cannot take total credit for The DCGreeks.com Guide to Picking Up a Greek Festival Volunteer. It is actually an adaptation from Chapter 29 of The Big Big Book of Greek Festival Knowledge, which has been passed along from church to church over the years. Throughout the 1980s and mid-90s, it circulated between four primary locations, the closet next to the temporary ATM machine in St. Sophia’s basement, the top bookshelf of the 3rd grade classroom at the Reverend Thomas Daniels Greek Day School at Sts. Constantine & Helen, underneath a loose panel on the stage of Founders Hall at St. George, and the AHEPA 438 closet in the basement of the old educational center at St. Katherine’s. Sometime during the late 90s, probably with every church deciding it must have a brand new community center, the British School extending its lease at St. Connie’s, or with some churches scaling back their Greek Festivals, the book was somehow lost. Some say that it was lost for two years when it was taken to the Winchester festival and the person who took it there forgot how to get home from there. Others postulate that the book must have made its way to Baltimore, being lost to the DC community for years. We can’t reveal how we got our hands on The Big Big Book of Greek Festival Knowledge or what we did with the black ski-masks that we used for the operation, or how long it took to train Stavro, the Baklava-Syrup-Sniffing Wonder Dog, to find the book (and to test for its authenticity), but needless to say, the book is back in DC where it belongs. 

The following tips and suggestions are derived from Chapter 29:

The Grill Line

For the ladies out there, this is where you are most likely to find guys volunteering at the festival. The downside to the grill line is that the guys aren’t really all that accessible in the back of the tent making sure the souvlaki and gyro aren’t burning. Silly things like health department regulations have done away with the days that you could just walk back there and offer the guy a cigarette. With the demands for fast service imposed on today’s grill line volunteers, it’s hard to make an impression on a guy in the 22 seconds from the time you order to the time you’re handing over the money. You got to do something to make yourself memorable even if it means holding up the rest of the line. Asking for double meat just makes you look really hungry and can have a guy wondering how much money it would cost to satisfy your appetite if he took you to a restaurant that was nicer than a Red Lobster. Asking for a well-done souvlaki would be better request, unless you come off like a princess when asking for it. (Don’t make it sound like he’s been serving everyone else the salmonella special.) If he notices it, make sure to come back several times during the weekend and order the exact same thing, until he knows you, and your order by heart. 

If you’re a guy in line for a gyro or souvlaki, you’re more than likely going to find the girls actually assembling your sandwich. If you can look one of these girls in the eye in the now under six seconds she has to assemble your sandwich and say, “No onion” like it’s the sexiest, most romantic thing you’ve ever said to a girl, then maybe you’ve got a shot. Things to avoid saying in the grill line if you’re a guy include: 

Don’t bother putting it in a box… this will be gone by the time I make it to the cashier.
You want to charge me how much for extra tzatziki?
Nice tomatoes.

The Drink Stand

It’s hard to pick up someone who is working the drink stand, because these are usually the best staffed of all the concessions at a Festival. The odds of having the person you want serving you actually be the one who is serving you are worse than choosing the quickest line at the Giant or Safeway. This might be one of those situations where you need a wingman or other friend to order ahead of you if it turns out you wanted a beer from Niki but got Nick instead, or vice-versa. 

To make a lasting impression, wine might be the way to go. If you’re a guy ordering wine, it shows that you’re a little more sophisticated than every other Joe Mythos out there. Always ask for a glass of wine from an unopened bottle because it forces them to take some extra time to open it, giving you more chance to talk to them. (Unless the object of your affection is a girl who can’t open a wine bottle, therefore needing to ask her buddy Kosta to open it, which he does quite masterfully, leading her to see him in a completely new light, leaving you reading about their engagement, wedding, and the baptism of their first born child in the church bulletin over the next two years.) 

A safer choice might be the Greek coffee. Equal to wine in terms of sophistication level, and even more time and labor intensive, you could be naming your unborn children by the time he or she is done brewing the coffee. Greek coffee has the added advantage of being something you can come back from again and again on the same night, but just remember not to actually drink all that coffee if you’re planning on coming back to talk to this guy or girl again. Greek coffee is powerful stuff, so find a patch of weeds to pour it on, or give it to a hyperactive eight year old, regardless, don’t be the one to take down all that caffeine in one sitting. Otherwise your fourth conversation could sound something like this:

Um, um, hi, my name is Dem, Dem, Demetri, yeah hi, I was wondering, yeah, um, if you were free some time, if you, um, wanted to go grab a cup of coffee.

The Pastry Booth

This one is for the guys only, because rarely are you ever going to find a guy working the pastry booth. You’ve really got to be careful in trying to pick up a girl at the Pastry Booth, because that, and the indoor food lines, are probably only two of the intergenerational concessions at a Greek Festival. Watch what you say to the girl behind the pastry booth, because there is a very good chance her mother or yiayia could be working the booth with her, and you don’t want to make a bad first impression with the mother or yiayia by asking her daughter to get you the baklava on the bottom row of the glass pastry case when she’s wearing a low cut t-shirt and there’s perfectly good baklava on the top row. Therefore we recommend taking some time to study the situation and figure out who all the players are behind the booth and if they are related. This intergenerational dynamic gives you many options for the direct or indirect approach to picking up a pastry booth worker. You could come off all sweet, polite and innocent, which may earn you points with the mother or the yiayia, but could just turn off the girl as a blatant attempt at pandering. The reverse psychology is to ignore the girl altogether and only flirt with the mother or grandmother. If you really want to be a jerk, come up to the booth with a big plate of loukoumades, because everyone knows that pastry booth workers hate the loukoumades stand and vice-versa. If you’re not into playing games, talk to the girl directly and ask her to explain to you what’s in every pastry she sells. Ask her which is her favorite. You can tell a lot about a girl by what pastry she likes, and even more if she knows how to make it. 

Kiddie Rides/Games

A few of the festivals still have the children’s games and rides, usually a moon bounce. You need to be careful though because these attractions are usually staffed by GOYA members, so unless you’re into the under-18 year old set, it’s probably not the best place to pick up someone. But if you’re a guy and you see a girl running these games who is of appropriate age, you could probably use her obvious love of kids as a way into her heart. If you don’t have a young niece or nephew or a godchild handy, you can always borrow one. Just make sure you tell the kids real parents that you’re doing it and that you’ll bring them right back. 

Guy:

 Hi, one for the moon bounce, please.

Volunteer:

 Is this your son?

Guy:

 No, he’s my Godchild, Yianni.

Kid:

 It’s Kosta.

Guy:

 Shh… That Yianni is such a kidder. 

Volunteer:

 Here’s your ticket. Enjoy.

Guy:

 Ok Yianni, go on your ride, and then go play with your friends.

Kid:

 Hey, wait a minute, give me my 10 bucks first. He said he’d give me 10 bucks if I pretended to be your godchild. 

Guy:

 Yianni, what did I tell you about lying to pretty girls? Wait until your mother and father hear about this.

Read past feature articles