She hadn’t always been dowdy, frumpy and schlumpy. She was vibrant and full of fun and adorability--until her life was forever altered at the tender age of eight. That’s when Gertie Jane, who lived with her mom and dad in Portland, took a vacation to Chicago with her parents. Oh, there was so much to see! She found the big city to be positively dazzling.
But nothing was nearly as dazzling as what she saw when her family visited the big annual Greek festival put on by a Greek Orthodox church.
Gertie Jane was gobsmacked.
He told her his name was Nikolas Papa-something-or-other. They tried to have a conversation, which was difficult because he spoke little English. She didn’t mind. She could listen to Nikolas butcher the English language with his charming Greek accent all day long.
She was so fascinated by the charismatic boy that she forgot to eat her ice cream. When the triple scoops slipped off the cone, landing in the grass, Nikolas zoomed to the concession counter. A moment later he returned, handing her a gooey, flaky triangle.
“Is baklava,” he told her. “Greek pastry with nuts and honey. Is good.” He nodded. “You like.”
At the same moment Gertie Jane sank her teeth into the cloyingly sweet but delicious treat, Nikolas planted a kiss on her cheek.
“Kukla,” he said with a flirty wink. “Kukla moo.” And then he boldly gave her another quick kiss, smack dab on her sticky-with-honey lips!
Gertie Jane had no idea what kukla (which he pronounced “kook-lah”) meant or why Nikolas was making moo-cow sounds, all she cared about was her first kiss. She was in love--with baklava and Nikolas!
Almost at the same time, both Gertie Jane’s parents and Nikolas Papa-something-or-other’s parents called for their children. It was time to go home.
“I live in Portland,” the alarmed Gertie Jane blurted. “Oregon. You live here in Chicago?”
Looking forlorn, Nikolas shook his head from side to side. “Athens,” he said. “Greece.”
“Greece?” Gertie Jane’s little heart sank. “Wow, that’s even farther away from Portland than Florida.” She’d found her soul mate at a young age, only to lose him…and probably never see him again.
This time when Nikolas kissed her, Gertie Jane kissed him back--a sweet, chaste, innocent peck. A goodbye kiss.
“Bye, Gertie Jane moo,” Nikolas said, backing away. Before she could answer his cow call, he turned and ran off.
Before leaving the fairgrounds, Gertie Jane asked one of the adults at the baklava counter what the Greek words “kukla” and “moo” meant. She learned kukla means doll and moo means my. Nikolas had called her his doll…his Gertie Jane. It was a beautiful memory that she’d carry in her heart forever.
She also asked if anyone knew the Nikolas Papa-something-or-other family from Athens Greece. She learned that just about everyone in Athens had Papa-something-or-other for a last name…and Nikolas for a first name. Finding her soul mate would be next to impossible.
Her life seemingly over at just eight, poor little Gertie Jane Krumpenschlump began her gradual slump into schlump.
It’s not as if she didn’t try. She was full of hope that one day she’d somehow find Nikolas again…or at least someone like him. She was in her twenties when she met Stefan at one of the dance clubs her girlfriends dragged her to. Like Nikolas, he was Greek.
Unlike Nikolas, Stefan kissed like a limp fish. The man had the libido of a marshmallow.
They started seeing each other but, sadly, he was usually melancholy--even more depressed than Gertie Jane when she ran out of her favorite food, baklava.
One day they decided to join a fitness center because exercise was supposed to help chase away the blues. Almost as soon as they entered the gym area, Stefan’s mood brightened. He became animated, stood straighter, smiled wider. Yay! Gertie Jane’s heart swelled with hope. Maybe all Stefan needed to feel better and increase his mallow-y libido was running on a treadmill and doing some pushups and jumping jacks!
Her hopeful bubble burst as she watched a skinny, mean-looking woman with a scrawny cat walking toward them. Bony butt gave Gertie Jane a distasteful onceover, but gave Stefan an inviting slut-of-the-month look. The entire body of the obviously affluent designer-clad woman probably weighed less than just one of Gertie Jane’s thighs. From Stefan’s tongue-lolling reaction, apparently this bitchy, lollipop-stick with legs was the kind of chick Stefan preferred.
But perhaps not… Oddly enough, Stefan’s wide grin was still firmly in place after the bony bitch left the area. He looked downright smitten. He was practically drooling. Gertie Jane couldn’t imagine why because there weren’t any other women around.
“I’m going to go change into my workout gear,” Stefan told her. He ran so fast to the changing area, he practically galloped.
A short time later, Gertie Jane understood why Stefan looked so damn happy. It was because he apparently had…other interests.
There were no hard feelings. Gertie Jane wished Stefan and his new significant other well. She believed everyone should find what makes them happy in life and hold on to it, even if they have…other interests.
The years passed--boring, uneventful, tedious…hopeless. Before she knew it, Gertie Jane was in her thirties, alone, schlumpier and more invisible than ever. Her only joy in life was eating baklava and spending time with her cat, Baklava…
…and her five other cats, Baklava-two, Baklava-three, Baklava-four, Baklava-five, and Baklava-six. (She really did love baklava.)
One day while in the Greek bakery, stocking up on her weekly supply of baklava, Gertie Jane saw an ad posted for a new gym in town. She wasn’t very fond of gyms after her eye-opening experience with Stefan and his…other interest. But something about the name of this gym caught her eye. It was called the It’s Me, Nikolas from Athens gym. Her eyes widened. Something, she had no idea what, told her maybe she should check it out. Then she spotted the first photo.
Dear God…it was him. It was Nikolas! Her Nikolas, all grown up and oh so hunky, handsome and muscular! Yum!
As she read the article and looked at the other photos, Gertie Jane felt something strange and wild and wonderful happening…both inside and out.
Holy cow! Gertie Jane Krumpenschlump was mysteriously transforming!
She grabbed one of the flyers, tucked her box of baklava under her arm and hightailed it out of the bakery, heading for the gym.
Once inside, she spotted him instantly.
She immediately felt that strange but delightful thing happening again. Everything about her was in flux. Gertie Jane was finally transforming into the woman she was always meant to be—and would have been, if she hadn’t lost her sweet soul mate so many years ago.
Her heart leapt when Nikolas spotted her. His smile was bright, wide and genuine. It seemed he was just as happy to see her as she was to see him!
His muscles were magnificent, bunching and cording as he lifted the heavy barbell. After raising it high overhead, he held it with one hand only, waving at her with the other. Wow, he was so strong! The look on his face sent peculiar but totally awesome tingles throughout Gertie Jane’s still transforming body.
She sighed as she watched him handle the clearly substantial weight as if it were no heavier than a triangle of baklava. Nikolas had grown into a Greek god, fully worthy of Michelangelo’s sculpting.
The rapturous feelings churning around inside Gertie Jane were deliciously devastating.
“Kukla moo!” Nikolas shouted from across the room. “At last I have found you, Gertie Jane moo. Everywhere I went I would ask people if they knew a dazzling redhead named Gertie Jane Krumpen-something-or-other, but to no avail. And now here you stand before me, even more beautiful than I imagined. I have been searching my entire life to find you, agape moo!”
Gertie Jane had studied Greek over the years just so she could feel closer to Nikolas on a spiritually-scholastic sort of level. Agape moo meant my love. Tears sprang to her eyes. “Oh, Nikolas…you love me. You love me! You are agape moo too!”
It was almost too much happiness for her to bear. Her beloved standing just a few feet away, looking just like he belonged on the cover of…
…and he loved her. He really, really loved her!
Like a miracle from God…or maybe from the Greek gods on Mount Olympus, Gertie Jane Krumpenschlump’s beyond-amazing transformation was now complete. Happiness saturated her every pore. All the excess weight from three decades of ingesting baklava magically melted away. The intensely splendid feelings she had experienced as a girl when Nikolas first kissed her were back, but they too had transformed into the most luscious of blissful sensations. Sensations sweet Gertie Jane Krumpenschlump had never before experienced.
She had to be certain. She couldn’t risk the shock and disappointment she’d had in the past.
“Nikolas…when you say you love me, you don’t mean like a sister, do you? I mean…you like women, right? You don’t have…other interests when it comes to kissing and--”
“Trust me, the things I want to do to you have nothing to do with sisterly love, agape moo. I want to…” And Nikolas went on to paint a series of graphic pictures with his words, detailing the most enlightening ins and outs and overs and unders and ups and downs. Best of all, each and every one of the fabulous, fascinating-sounding things had to do with one man and one woman. Naked. Together.
“Tonight,” Nikolas continued, “I will take you out for a romantic candlelight dinner. After that, we will make up for lost time, yes, agape moo?” He jiggled his eyebrows in a suggestive manner.
After dinner they went back Gertie Jane’s apartment. Nikolas had done a fine job of making her feel wanted, appreciated and loved. But she still had to be sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt.
“Kiss me, Nikolas.”
And he did.
“Oh Nikolas, I’m the happiest woman in the world. By the way…do you like cats?” she asked as all six little Baklavas peeked at them from around the corner.
“I love them if you do,” he replied, planting kisses from her wrist up to her temple. “Make me the happiest man in the world, agape moo. Marry me. Right now. Tonight. Then we will spend the night, and the rest of our lives, making mad, passionate love together while gloriously naked with your cats surrounding us.”
“Oh Nikolas, at last I’ll be Mrs…” She cocked her head. “What’s your last name again?”
Gertie Jane blinked. “How would you feel about changing it?”
“Change my family name?” His eyebrows arched in surprise. “To what?”
Gertie Jane gave a hopeful smile. “To Baklava.”
Nikolas scratched his head, looking puzzled, while Gertie Jane worried her bottom lip. After a short contemplation, he shrugged, his smile mirroring hers. “Your wish is my command,” he said, whisking her up into his arms and heading for the nearest justice of the peace.
Later that night…
Gertie Jane Krumpenschlump Baklava was never a schlump or invisible ever again. And they lived happily ever after…
--Super Earthling…roger wilco, over and out
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