"How was the gig?" he asks, looking up.
"Great," I answer. "There were a ton of kids there. What are you reading?" Nicky kind of smirks. He does that like he's in on a joke and no one else knows the punch line. "You'd like it. It's got a punk rock theme with a kick-ass girl bass player." "Yeah?" I ask, intrigued.
"Language!" my mother barks at my brother's use of the word "ass." She's emptying the dishwasher.
"When did you learn curse words, Mitera?" Nicky taunts.
"Enough. Read you book and eat you breakfast. What you want, Dmitri? What I cook for you?"
"You don't have to make me breakfast, Ma. I can handle it myself." I open the cupboard and reach for the cereal.
"I like to help!"
"Let the boy get his own breakfast." I didn't hear my father come in. He's dressed in a suit, the same gray suit he wears every day. I wonder if he and Yia Yia shop at some secret gray clothing store just for Greeks. "You out too late again last night."
"Sorry, Dad, but the gig went long. And then, you know, we had to pack up and stuff."
"Gig." He spits the word like an olive pit. "You concentrate on schoolwork. In two years you apply to colleges. You need scholarship money."
I pour some Cap'N Crunch in a bowl but don't answer. How can I tell my dad I have no intention of going to college? What good will college do if all I want is to play music? He's either gonna have a heart attack or ground me for life when he finds out. Probably both.
Nicky looks up from his book and glances at me. He knows my post high school plans but has been sworn to secrecy. We make eye contact, he shrugs his shoulders and goes back to his punk-rock love story.
"Hurry," my mom says to my father, "you going to be late for work."
"I never late for work!" my father answers with pride. It's actually true. My father has never been late for anything in his entire life. It's weird, like he's some kind of time lord. We can leave our house at four thirty to go someplace an hour away, and somehow we still arrive by five. Just. Weird.
I take the drumsticks out of my back pocket—I always carry sticks in my back pocket, because, well, you never know—put them on the table, and sit down. I prop my phone against a small vase of flowers my mother likes to keep fresh, and plug in the earbuds.
"What is this?" my father asks, an annoyed look on his face.
"I'm going to watch a movie."
"A movie?" he bellows. "Our people did not invent physiki, mathematics, and drama for you to watch movies at the breakfast."
"It's 'at breakfast' or 'at 'the' breakfast table,'" I correct him. "And actually, Dad, they kind of did. Streaming content on a phone is the perfect blend of science and art, don't you think? Aristotle would be proud." I'm not sure if my dad understands that I'm tweaking him. His sense of humor is more slapstick than subtle. He laughs himself stupid at old Mel Brooks movies. I have to admit, I kind of do, too. "It's okay," I assure him. "This is for school."
"You watch movies...for school?" His annoyance blends with confusion.
"Yeah, for my film studies class. We're getting grounded in classics before we start to learn how to make our own movies."
"Movies in school," he half says, half mutters. "How this country become superpower is mystery to me."
"Hurry," my mother admonishes again, "you going to be late!" Mom creates a constant aura of free-floating energy that attempts to consume all in its path, like something from a science-fiction story.
"Baaaah," my father grumbles, as if the mere thought of being late is ridiculous.