• Jennifer Strube

Why All My Greatest Love Moves Came From Zorba: A Valentines’s Lesson


If Valentine’s Day has put you in the mood for all-things-cuddly, embrace your inner Zorba.

Seriously, once you tap into this man’s wisdom, you’ll never read a dating column again. Everything you need to know about amore is written on this Greek’s lips, which flap almost as quickly as his feet stomp out the Zorbas dance.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. For many years, we Americans have known that Europeans make good dancers, better wine, and the best of lovers. And what better day to pair them together then on Dear St. Valentino. Romance was made for the Mediterranean, and indeed it was on the shores of the Aegean Sea where I met Zorba – a feisty, roundish man so zestful his film is still banned in his hometown.

I never set out to meet Zorba the Greek. Our encounter was more of a haphazard chance – a stumbling grace of synchronicity through the auspices of satellite tv. I poured the wine, Zorba poured the poetry, and together we dined for two hours of sheer cinematic bliss.

If you haven’t seen the film or read the book, allow me explain. Zorba is not your typical Romeo. He’s a talker more than looker, which is almost why I skipped his channel. But when the first words you hear out of a man’s mouth are, “God has a very big heart, but there is one sin He will not forgive. If the woman calls a man to her bed and he will not go!” …. you pay attention. 

Appalled or swooned, he’s hooked you.

Zorba – you had me at hello. I mean, buon giorno. 

With each passing moment, Zorba’s feistiness grows faster than his grandma can wrap grape leaves. As all good Greeks, he talks with his hands, he smiles with his brows, and his sorrow is surpassed only by his thunderous laughter and sudden eclipse into song. In other words, he’s moody. But the zestful kind of moody – the kind where you sleep with your eyes open because 8 hours a day is too large a day’s portion to miss out on the passion of life. This man sweats while taking cold showers. His blood boils as furiously as his lamb stew. 

And he lives to love the woman.

In the wake of his fig-induced fury, this Zorba feels much. He loves to laugh, he loves to eat, he loves to get in trouble, and… he loves to love the woman. 

During the course of hours with Zorba, we struck up a conversation. I would stare at the television incredulously, while Zorba would read my thoughts and respond in kind.

Zorba, don’t you get exhausted living life with such gusto? I would think.

Within minutes, Zorba would answer with his string of one-liners.”Every man has his folly,” he said, “but the greatest folly of all is not to have one!”

Interesting, I thought. But Zorba, aren’t you an Orthodox man? Zorba, again on cue: God changes his appearance every second. Blessed is the man who can recognize him in all his disguises.

Me, intrigued, sipping wine on the couch: So what does God have to do with loving women? 

Zorba, lying on the ground on the isle of Crete, repeated himself: God has a very big heart, but there is one sin He will not forgive. If the woman calls a man to her bed and he will not go. 

Me: Oh really?

Zorba, now flinging his hands in the air:If a woman sleeps alone, it puts a shame on all the men! What is wrong with us?

Me: So you love the women, do you Zorba?

Zorba, kissing his fingers in perfection: I love the awe. The highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic and more despairing: Sacred Awe!

Me: That we share. That’s why I write.

Zorba, now standing on a stool: All those who actually live the mysteries of life haven’t the time to write, and all those who have the time don’t live them!

Me: So what should I be doing rather than blogging, dear Zorba?

Zorba, diving off stool onto the floor: A man needs a little madness in his life or else he never dares cut the rope and be free.

Me: Teach me to dance, then, will you Zorba?

Zorba, clicking his feet: Dance! Did you say dance? Come on, get up on your feet. The Greek will teach you!

Me: I do see Zorba! Hence the need to end this blog and start the baile!

The movie ended but Zorba continues. Happy Valentines Day weekend to all of you.  And keep on dancing with the Greeks!



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