Papou and the Old SchoolA favorite buzz phrase often used by enlightened and progressive men is "He belongs to the Old School." Old School for me is exemplified by the actions and deeds of Papou. On the rare occasions anyone questioned Papou's actions or deeds, he would always answer the inevitable "Why?" by saying, "Because that is the way the men of my family do things," thereby inferring that obligation comes with the testes.
By Basil Douros
The males of today, however, try to blend into an ever-changing non-gender society by ascribing to the belief that children should have a vote in determining the family's morals and direction. Yet every so often we question the changes that have taken place and silently wonder whether the world wasn't better off in the old days.
We grudgingly accept the role of observer when we long to participate in the task of raising our grand-children. We shudder but seem to agree that the paychecks that working
At the same time, we secretly wonder whether abandoning our ethnic pride and cultural mores is correct. As the character Gus said in A Big Fat Greek Wedding, "there are two kinds of people in this world: Greeks and those who wish they were Greeks." Old School Papou was relentless in implanting that concept in his family. As a result, we could not let the family down by misbehaving or being unsuccessful. We had to win we had to do better because we were better than most--after all, we were of Greek descent. True or false, that kind of attitude and pride in our heritage caused us to rise to even greater heights than our parents ever dreamed.
Papou knew that any race or contest had a winner and a loser. His Greek pride and firm belief in hard work and disciplining oneself toward a worthwhile objective made his family the winner and not the loser. Compare Papou's pride, his need to win and overcome obstacles to that of so many parents of today who tell their children: "It does not matter whether you win or lose; it is how you play the game." Old School Vince Lombardi was talking for Papou when he said, "Winning is the only thing."
The Old School Papou, like fathers of today, had his share of problems, but Papou would share them only with his family and even kept some family misdeeds to himself. Compare that with what you see on The Jerry Springer television show and what you hear on the Dr. Laura radio program. I can't help but wonder how people can debase themselves by telling their secrets and misdeeds to a world of strangers.
Old School thinkers demand accountability. When they hire the neighbor's kids to shovel snow from the sidewalk or mow the lawn, they withhold payment until the job is done right. Compare that with the attitude that people are "entitled," which has created generations of welfare recipients and panhandlers.
Even those who do work for a living in today's world often lack incentive to do the job well. Take the concept of tipping, for example. Old School thinking is that tipping is a reward for courteous, friendly, and competent service. Even the poorest Old School thinkers would enjoy a moment of pride when they could demonstrate satisfaction for a job well done by paying a little extra, just like the rich people did. Nowadays the amount of the tip is determined by the amount of the bill and not by the quality of service. A server who works in an expensive restaurant will get bigger tips for the same amount of work even if the server in a less expensive restaurant does a better job. The "norm" of tipping 20% for higher-priced restaurants versus 15% for lower-priced establishments does not foster the Old School concept of rewarding workers for quality service.
Also, Papou never tried to tip the owner of the business even when the owner provided the labor. Old Schoolers believed that business owners should never accept a tip, but should instead take pride in their status as businesspeople rather than employees.
Papou also demonstrated self-motivation. Like many of our
What can we males do to help bring back some of the Old School thinking? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Women are ladies and men are guys. Women should never be called "guys" especially when they are customers.
2. Take care of your hairy chest; revel in the fact that the Y chromosomes are doing their job. Continue to believe that women get weak in the knees when they meet men who have and express strong opinions.
3. When an acquaintance asks about your prostate cancer, just tell them "I am dealing with it." Old School people deal with their problems rather than talk about them. They share intimate details with only their doctors, family members, and close friends. They act much like John Wayne when he said, "I'm only shot in the shoulder."
4. Don't be embarrassed about being loyal to your friends, family, and country. Old School men still stand when the national anthem is played and get tearful when they remember the meaning of a Gold Star in the window.
5. Old School students of Papou know to never keep track of the score or favors with friends.
6. Listen to good music, such as Frank Sinatra's "I Did It My Way."
7. Support a gender-free society; never hesitate to kiss your sons and other male family members.
8. Send the steak back when it is not cooked the way you ordered it.
9. Check your left toe when you wake up each morning. If you do not find a tag on it, thank God for giving you another day to enjoy.
10 Be stubborn about your convictions. Remember, you have to like yourself. That is Old School.
Basil Douros is the award-winning author of Carved in Stone: The Greek Heritage and will soon be publishing These Are the Things Papou Told Me at Yiayia's Table. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.douros.org
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