‘Moon Over’ Chapter: Let’s get this party started!

Athens is fun! Dima is having a blast, and not putting up with Ian’s romantic reluctance. Ouzo and retsina are flowing, gay men recognize our tribe members, and life feels perfect. Until a phone call reminds Ian of what’s coming.

Constitution Square in the 1980s wasn’t the slick tourist spot that it is today. It was much more grungy, youth-centric and pretty gay. The cruising scene was obvious, dominated more by tourists, though, than Greek men.

Trivia note: International operators in Greece and other small European countries routinely answered the phone in English in those days. Dima would not have been able to direct-dial Libya. He’d have had to use an international operator, with the call paid in advance. Post offices routinely facilitated these types of calls.

The Russian Gospodin/Gospozha literally mean Lord/Lady in English. The sense of master or head of a noble household is there, though by 1917, the forms of address had come to correspond closely to honorifics like Mr./Mrs. or Monsieur/Madame. After the October Revolution, Gospodin/Gospozha usage became discouraged and then forbidden, in favor of Comrade or Citizen. Everyday formal honorifics, however, were not uniformly common.

Addressing somebody by their full name/patronymic was then (and is now) perfectly formal and polite. Calling Dima Dmitry Fyodorovich (Dmitry son of Fyodor) is as formal as calling him Mr. Borin. Today, Gospodin/Gospozha are again used in highly formal occasions in Russia, though they have not returned to popular or common usage. Citizen and Comrade are not used except as an insult in the former case and an ironic joke or diminutive in the latter.

Trivia note: Russia was colonized by Vikings about the same time England was. The name/patronymic system has survived (as it has in Iceland) from old Norse customs.

Constitution Square, 2015

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com