"My Cousin, the Caryatid"


The Classical world was making a comeback. Funny thing was, it was the Persians who started it all. History described battles where Western civilization and baubles like freedom and liberty hanged in the balance. Everything worth living for would be kept intact by defeating the Eastern threat. Including the man-boy love.

My accountant Shirin rocked a periwinkle toga. Couldn’t speak Greek for shit. Great with money, though. Knew how to diversify, and when. “Wanna fig?” he offered, pointing at a compote full of those overrated sticky nuggets.

“Nah.”

He coughed, cracked his neck before attacking my portfolio with keyboard and mouse. “Suit yourself.”

I preferred to stand while he updated me on my fund’s progress. I felt it braced me better for the harsh reality of the market as opposed to sitting on his lavender yoga ball, the only other furniture in the room. Expect worst, hope best, all that. His face consolidated into a death mask of surprise. He looked up at me. “Did . . . did you recently take out a large chunk of your 401(k)?”

“Uh, yeah,” I shrugged. “Relative in need.”

“You know I strongly advise against that, right? No matter what?”

I shrugged again.

“Eumonymphactides, are you familiar with the myth of Sisyphus?”

“No,” I muttered, “of course not.”

Eumonymphactides wasn’t even my real name. It wasn’t even a nickname. My birth name was Ryan Taylor McCormick.

The Grand Re-Opening of the Oracle at Delphi was in a week. The Pope was going to do the ribbon-cutting. A pair of opal-handled shears had been commissioned to be made by a Greek arts and crafts manufacturer. Per EU directive, everyone had to do his or her part in Hellenizing oneself for the betterment of the global community. All of Brexit had been undone--yet the bloke with the goofy hat got to retain his monotheism. Tauroskata.

The Pythian priestess was some dark-haired, drop-dead dime-piece who in a show of solidarity with her country’s austerity measures (going on twenty years now) let herself be blinded for her new vocation. She took a vow of chastity and enunciated everything in a hoarse whisper. My cousin, Thrasiphrenia, had put in for the gig but got summarily turned down. Wasn’t hot enough, they said. Not sufficiently endowed up top. But they didn’t come more callipygian than my cousin.

Callipygian. A fine word. Look it up. I guess that’s what people like about Greek: its pithiness. I’d just as soon say my cousin packs heat down below. More syllables. So?

“Because those two Homeric epics the world refuses to slough off are shining examples of brevity,” I scoffed at Shirin over lunch.

The side of his mouth bulged with gyro juice and lamb. “Hellenophobe,” he grumbled.

“There’s that language again.” I ate a burger and fries.

Shirin took another large bite. Mouth full, he said, “That 401(k) withdrawal could have fetched you a nicer outlook. They’re doing miracles with the hippocampus these days out at PhrenTech.”

My cousin needed boobs bad. I tried on countless occasions to discount that fact. The only way to properly perform a size assessment was to stand directly behind her and tightly brace her hips with my elbows and, forearms vertical, hold them in my palms. “Why do you always breathe heavily in the nape of my neck?” she asked last time I did an evaluation. I exhaled. Wisps of auburn hair shuddered across her olive skin.

“To render the molecules in their immediate vicinity more objective, by which I can then properly determine their relative sizes in accordance with the average twenty-two-year-old.”

“Molecules,” Thrasiphrenia giggled. “Molecules and atoms. Do you know that Epicurus, known mostly nowadays as a gourmand, was the first to propose the idea of atoms? Indivisible, minuscule units of matter? Genius. Just genius.”

Don’t let the jargon fool you. Thrasiphrenia was as sharp as a sack of pita chips. And it was what I found most charming about her. That and the heat packed down below—tactful handling thereof possible only with a genius level of self-confidence. And the waist. And the hips. And the thighs. And the pout.

The pout.

“Epicurus was a hack,” I said. “I doubt he was the first to propose the idea of atoms. Someone else, likely an Asian, came up with it first. He may have just been the first to go public about it. Schmuck didn’t know about neutrinos and quarks though, did he? Genius. Just genius.”

She pouted and looked over her shoulder back at me. Instant satyriasis.