Monday, January 11, 2010
Scene 1b lilies (Xmas party)
Across the room, a man seems to be searching for someone. His name is James Watkins and he also works at the Conservatory as the accountant.
His father, Charles, is the Conservatory founder and Society President.
Having spotted Anne, he pauses, inhales a deeply, straightens his tie, slicks his hair and approaches her.
James stands behind her, over her right shoulder as she stands, busily sketching. Obviously hoping to impress her he speaks.
James: Merlot Spathe, much larger than the species of its kind, bread obviously for it’s magnificent backwards facing whip.
(Looking closer, as though he has discovered some botanical imperfection.)
Unfortunately, it bears what seems to be a most irregular variegation.
(She turns to face him. He is searching for a sign that he has impressed her. Instead she replies simply, warm and yet contrary.)
Anne: I find her rather lovely.
(returning her gaze to the specimen)
Her graceful stem is sturdy, dependable and able. Her distinct features are evidence of her age; she must have set seed 20 times. As far as I’m concerned, her variegation, unreliable or otherwise is of no cause for concern, yours or mine.
(Her eyes lighten. We recognize that they are familiar with one another. She is bold as she continues to speak)
I imagine that if you had set seed that many times you variegation may become a little…irregular…would it not, James?
(She blushes. She, of course, is speaking of the Arasaema Taiwanese set before her, but has realized the double entendre behind what she has said. There is a brief beat between the two of them.)
James: You have bested me again Anne! However, I must say, you sound as though you believe longevity and maturation to be far superior qualities to uniformity and a superior gene pool. Good heavens what would Darwin say?
(As he surveys the Arasaema specimen up close, we see that the pistil is quite phallic. He raises his eyebrows, speaking softly)
Come to think of it, what would Freud say?
Anne: (For decency sake she pretends not to understand)
I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean.
I hope your father is pleased with the specimens I chose to display for the evenings celebration.
James: (With an air of resentment.) Oh Anne, you can do no wrong in his eyes. The man has been smitten with your work, as have all the other patrons here at the society.
I can’t tell you how many requests I receive each month.
(Implying it is quite a bothersome task)
Your weekly article in our newsletter seems to have attracted something of a cult following. Just last week I had to turn 9 people down cold who were eager to sign up for your upcoming lecture on epiphytes.
This notion of yours, discussing botanicals as if they were close personal friends with personalities and temperaments all their own...
(Laughs as though he thinks it a bit foolish)
Well it’s not my fancy but obviously it appeals to some, and it has been good for the society...monetarily speaking.
(Moves closer to Anne talking quietly)
Speaking of Society matters...
(Pauses as it is a delicate matter.)
I couldn't’t help but notice your lecture notes you are working on for February.
Anne: Yes I thought that given the state of things, the recent market crash and so on, it might be wise for the Society to discuss plant material that is a bit more functional, practical and less...eh... costly to purchase.
For instance: fruit trees, shrubs, and evergreen herbs for boarders.
After all James we are here for the sake of education not for the sake of economic gain.
James: (a patronizing laugh)
Oh Anne, do leave the economic matters to me. We’ll count on you to keep the flowers company, understood?
Anne: Yes, I just think...
(Just as though she is about to dispute his rebuke, a warm and friendly voice is heard, calling Anne’s name as he approaches.)
(It is Charles Watkins, Society founder and President, father of James, and host of the evening’s events. He is a person all his own. He Often repeats himselfwhen he is excited. His joy and passion for botanical specimens is evident. He has a youthful exuberance about him. He presides over the society, as though he does not consider it to be work at all)
Charles: Oh Anne how wonderful it is to see you!
Oh Miss Hibbert you should never show to these occasions! Never should. These specimens become mere trifles in comparison to your beauty, mere trifles!
(He kisses her hand)
What a fine job you have done. Impeccable taste, I always say, don’t I James? ‘That Miss Hibbert has impeccable taste!’
(He takes Anne by the hand and looks her in the eyes. He speaks sincerely)
Your father would be pleased Anne. You notice things in these specimens no one else seems to. And ought!
We are all the richer having you here Anne, all the richer indeed!
James: (Obviously embaressed by his fathers enthusiasm and frankness)
Oh father I’m afraid these occasions reveal you as a punch loving fool. You need not go on and on regarding things Anne already knows all too well. Am I right Anne?
Anne: (Eager to finally get the attention off of herself)
Is Mrs. Watkins here? I must say she and the ladies have organized quite a grand celebration this evening.
Charles: She is around here somewhere, troubling herself over some minor detail, the way she always does at things like this.
James my boy, have we received any eh, deliveries this evening? I believe we were eh… expecting something from our dear Mr. Lavery?
James: I was on my way down to check. Anne, Father please excuse me.
Anne and Charles are left standing together. He sees someone he knows and calls them over.
Anne suddenly finds herselfas the fifth wheel. She excuses herself and makes her way through the crowd. She notices that nobody is looking at her displays. The fronds of large, magnificent palms are being bent and broken as masses of people squeeze in between them. She sees a man extinguish his cigarette into the soil of a Livastona chinensis, a woman who appears to be smooshing the liquid of a dwarf violet bromeliad which has just flowered for the first time.
Just as though it seems as if it is too much for Anne, a woman who is laughing uncontrollably, swings her hand into the flower of the Arasaema taiwaniensis that Anne had been sketching earlier, thereby breaking the flower off. The woman hardly seems to notice. Anne rushes over, picks up the flower off the ground, gathers the pot in the other hand and walks off.
She will bring the specimen to its home in the conservatory respite center downstairs.
(TO CONTINUE< GO TO SCENE 1c)