Every Greek person has had at least one experience with their mother, father, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, where they’ve been guilted into feeling like they did something wrong even if they didn’t.
It stinks and it can hit you out of nowhere.
You could be having an amazing day; the sun is shining; you feel full of energy; you’ve spent quality time with your friends and family; and then suddenly, out of nowhere, your mother drops a line on you that brings it all crashing down. Blah.
So in honour of these deflating moments that sometimes happen all too often, I’ve decided to compile a list of the top 10 guilt-tripping lines that our Greek elders have (at least once) said to us.
Let us begin…
#10: “Αυτό θα φορέσεις;”
Literal translation: That’s what you’re wearing?
What they really mean: This line mostly applies to women, but it can also apply to the odd male in different situations. Sometimes your Greek parent will take a quick glimpse at what you’re wearing before you dash out the door for a night on the town with your friends, and they’ll stop you dead in tracks to let you know that your outfit looks either a) too provocative… b) to revealing… or c) too trashy. But don’t let that get you down. They’re just used to turtlenecks and knitted stockings.
#9: “Δεν θα πας να δείς τη θεία σου;”
Literal translation: You’re not going to see your aunt?
What they really mean: This one might be a little difficult to understand at first, so allow me to explain. Have you ever gone on vacation to Greece and all you want to do is go island-hopping and pass out on a beach? Exactly. Same here. But sometimes, before you leave, your parents will guilt you into visiting every last aunt, uncle and cousin that you have back in the homeland, leaving you no time for fun in the sun. Hence the famous line: “Δεν θα πας να δείς τη θεία σου?”
#8: “Τη θα κάνεις με αυτή τη δουλειά;”
Literal translation: What are you going to do with that job?
What they really mean: Are you currently employed as a doctor or lawyer? Halleluiah! Your Greek parents think the world of you. But wait a second… you’re not a doctor or a lawyer? What’s that you say? You work in computer science? You write for a newspaper? You’re a professional photographer? “Τη θα κανεις μ’αυτή τη δουλειά?!!!”
#7: “Δεν μ’αγαπάς άλλο.”
Literal translation: You don’t love me anymore.
What they really mean: When a Greek mother tells you that you don’t love her anymore she’s usually implying that you haven’t spent enough time with her or that you aren’t giving her enough attention. This mostly occurs after a brief disagreement or spat. Don’t worry, though. Deep down inside they don’t mean it. They still know you love’em.
#6: “Δεν ειχαμε να φαμε στο χωριο μου”
Literal translation: We didn’t have any food to eat in my village
What they really mean: This one doesn’t need much explaining as it’s pretty much a universal line used by cultures all around the world. It is usually used by a father or mother when they see that you aren’t finishing all the food on your plate. They’re pretty much guilting you into remembering that they came from poverty and had very little to eat back in their village.
#5: On the first New Year’s Eve spent without your parents, they likely said to you: “Δεν περνάμε καλά μαζί;”
Literal translation: Do we not have a good time together?
What they really mean: I say this line is commonly used on the first New Year’s Eve you spend without your parents, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the first time you’ve heard it (or the last). You see, parents get offended when you tell them you would rather not hang out with them. They feel like they’re not “cool” enough or that they’re boring. They might also feel like the family is drifting. And while they might be right with the “not cool enough” and “boring” part, they just need to accept it and remember that all you want to do is get a little drunk with your friends without them being around to improperly judge you. They also need to remember that the family is still well intact. Don’t get guilted into feeling bad about this. They’ll get over it by next year.
#4: “Γιατί τρως εξω;”
Literal translation: Why are you eating out?
What they really mean: If you ever just want to get out for a night and grab a bite with some friends instead of eating at home, sometimes your Greek mother will ask “why?” when there’s a perfectly healthy meal (with a recipe straight from the village) sitting on the kitchen table right in front of you. In a way she’s right. Nothing beats a home-cooked meal. But deep down inside they’re intentionally guilting you into feeling bad for not enjoying the food that they spent three hours making. It’s all part of their master-plan and it puts you in a really tough spot. You choose.
#3: “Γιατί χαλάς τα λεφτά σου;”
Literal translation: Why are you spending your money?
What they really mean: If one of your Greek elders ever dropped this line on you, it’s probably because you came home with a nice new pair of shoes, or maybe an iPhone 4S which they see as a glorified cell phone. They’re basically telling you that you’re dumb for wasting your money on material items when you have all the bare necessities under the roof that they have provided for you. Don’t waste your money, fools. Save it.
#2: “Δεν μας παιρνεις τηλεφωνο. Μας ξεχασες;”
Literal translation: You never call us. Did you forget about us?
What they really mean: We don’t feel important anymore. We feel like we have lost control of our children.
#1: “Ηρθα με μια βαλίτσα και δεν είχα τίποτα.”
Literal translation: I came here with one suitcase and I had nothing.
What they really mean: It’s the same song and dance with almost every immigrant who came to Canada or the United States 30 to 50 years ago. We get it. We respect what you’ve been able to accomplish. You guys are awesome for sticking to it and pulling it off. Just don’t guilt me into feeling incompetent because I have more than one suitcase and a couple dollars in my pocket. Geeze.
By Jonathan Bliangas