REAL MEN: OPA! THE GREEKS!

Oh the Greeks. Been surrounded by them my entire life. Lowell Massachusetts is basically Athens West. Met a million in my life, friends with so many. Beyond the likes of local Greek legends Demoulas, Behrakis, Leonis that have each made undeniable contributions to the world through their grit, hard work, determination and generosity, there is also a subset of All-Star Greeks that have made a big difference in MY world.

These are their stories. (insert Law and Order intro)

Oh wait. Hold please. Need to spend a couple minutes on the Greek women.

Oh, those raven-haired vixens dominated the thoughts of this pre-pubescent boy. Those high-hair-sprayed, bushy browed, lip-wax-needing teens spawn of the Mediterranean were my kryptonite in the early 1990s. You were my Achilles Heel….only slightly farther north of my heel. (I mean my heart, you sickos)

I would have worked in their family diners if offered the opportunity.

Made Spinach Pie my favorite kind of pie even though the real answer was Key Lime.

Named our first born son “Spanikopita” if asked (or just called him Paul, George, Nick, Chris or Jimmy like the rest of them)

I even took a girl named “Sue Flaki” out a few times; but, alas, it was fleeting like the ships that Helen of Troy launched.

I tried, ladies, but my Trojan Horse of a plan was not meant to be.

Any hoo.

On to the men.

Here is a brief rundown of some of the great Sons of Sparta I have had the pleasure of knowing (Yes, 3 Pauls and a George)

Paul Diamantopoulos

“Diama!” Paul is literally a chiseled Greek God in real time. I think he came out of the womb and went to straight to the gym instead of breast feeding. As a young man, Paul was a wild man. True badass, wiseass street kind of kid You wanted to be on Paul’s good side. But, Paul is actually a sweet marshmallow of a guy – just don’t tell anyone or he’ll kill me. Hair like Sampson, built like Hercules, Paul evolved from a quasi-punk to an absolute Hall of Famer across the board- football player, husband, father and a friend to all. Glad I have been able to call him my friend more than 30 years. Not a bad fisherman too, I hear.

Paul Grillakis

Only met Paul in recent years, this guy is one of the most unique and balanced humans I have ever encountered. Introduced to him by a mutual friend, I had an instantaneous bond with Paul. Paul fought a profound battle with cancer a few years back – one that doctors assured him would be a short war that he would not win. But, guess what, he had the last laugh and living his best life with his wife and grown children. While watching my Dad fight his own cancer battle, Paul was an amazing and encouraging resource to me. He gave a perspective that only someone who went through the hell of that disease can provide. Just an overall genuine, kind, tough spirit. The best.

George Yfantopulos

George has been a guiding force in my life for a long time. He has been a mentor, advisor and true friend to me for more than than 25 years. For whatever reason the Gods placed me in George’s company in some of my darkest of hours and he has always been the perfect companion in those moments of sadness, struggle and suffering. George is incredibly loyal, honest, and true to the core. George is a like Shepard to so many. Always shouldering the burden for the common good of the flock (or ‘squad‘ as he would put it). Generous and humble. A good man. Can’t pay higher praise.

Paul Davidopoulos

At lastly, BIL (Brother-In-Law) Paul. Paul is an electric dynamo of a man. Paul makes you smile with his energy, enthusiasm and wild spirit. Paul gets the party started and keeps it going. Paul led a hard life as a younger man. Eternally loyal son, he had a hard road growing up. Working his (albeit chubby, stubby) fingers to the bone to help his survive as a younger man, Paul battled and overcame some personal demons. I am very proud of him, his grit and determination to be better. I’m proud to call him ‘brother’. He is a wonderful husband and father. Paul is awesome.

You seeing the theme here? Lot of good Greeks out there; the above are some of the best that I could happily describe to you in further detail, but I don’t think anyone wants to read The Irish Iliad.

“Life is short, the art long.”
– Hippocrates

REAL MEN.

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