Tag Archives: conservatory

1983. Bird of Paradise

Rita and Carmen had been best friends for years. They were both widowed, and both had three children and four grandchildren. They lived not far from each other. Every Wednesday, to prevent a certain humdrumness, they would go on an outing. Sometimes it was just a cup of coffee in a café in town. Sometimes it was a bigger event, such as a visit to the city art gallery or a concert. Today they were going to the Botanical Garden’s Tropical Conservatory.

“Would you look at this one,” said Rita. “Such a pretty little flower!”

“I would’ve missed it if you hadn’t pointed it out,” said Carmen. “Smell this one here. It stinks!” And indeed it did stick!

“Look at this Bird of Paradise flower. It does look like a bird, doesn’t it?”

“They say,” said Carmen enthusiastically because she knew a little about the Bird of Paradise plant, “that the flower produces no pollen, so it’s generally great to plant if people are worried about allergies. Not only that, but they say if you rub a leaf on the palm of your hand you feel compelled to blurt out the truth whether you want to or not.”

“That sounds a bit dangerous,” declared Rita, rubbing the palm of her hand on a leaf. “And I might add that the way you slurp your coffee makes me want to spit.”

“That’s nothing,” said Carmen. “When I was having an affair with your late husband he gave me your bank account number and password. You wouldn’t have noticed, because you’re too thick, but a bit here and a bit there goes a long way.”

“You strumpet!” declared Rita. “So you’re the crumpet he so disdainfully spoke about; how your breath reeked of garlic and you were in need of a hefty dose of deodorant.”

The insults continued for another five minutes. It was a weekly event. In fact, one suspected that both had prepared the insults to hurl well in advance.

1946. Tropical Plants Conservatory

Lifetime school friends, Louise and Veronica, both celebrated their birthday on the same day. They usually did something together on that day and this year for their sixty-fifth they were going to visit the botanical garden’s Tropical Plant Conservatory.

“I do hope there will be no triffids in the greenhouse,” joked Veronica.

The Tropical Plant Conservatory was a large glass building. It would take Louise and Veronica an hour or so to quietly move among the foliage and espy this and that. Afterwards, they’d have a light lunch at the Conservatory’s café, and that would complete their birthday celebration.

At the door they were stopped by an attendant. “You realize, ladies, that if you bring a handbag into the Conservatory it has to be checked thoroughly on the way out for possible seeds and cuttings.”

“That’s no trouble,” said Louise and Veronica. “We shall leave our handbags here at the entrance with you.”

“That’s just as well,” joked the attendant, “because there is a handbag-devouring plant down the track. It’s related to the Venus Fly Trap.” It was an old joke; one he clearly cracked several times each day.

Louise and Veronica set out. An hour and a half later they returned to claim their handbags. The “attendant” had left. He’d gone to book his annual skiing trip to Switzerland.