Alice in Gardenland
Basil Vaerlen, San Francisco, Cal.
An excerpt from the California Chapter Newsletter
The excitement in the Dell was intense as the Miss Truss Pageant got under way. A mish-mash of Alpine types stood on the edge of things, nibbling nervously on their stamens, half envious of their more flamboyant sisters.
Alice found herself wedged in tightly between Dame Nellie Melba and Pink Pearl.
"I'll never forget," sighed Dame Nellie, "the year I won." "Nor let us forget either," Pink Pearl murmured. "And though we've been a number of fronds for years."
" Don't you mean 'friends' " Alice suggested.
" Good Heavens, no! I hope it hasn't come to that! No... just good fronds." Helen Schiffner, a small white truss, spoke up. "I may not be as florid as some, but I do have class. Don't you think there's something slightly vulgar about those... er... bosomy trusses? Strutty and sort of stuck-out..."
"Don't be snide!" Dame Nellie said, severely, "I always say: Them as has it, has it... "
" Them as has it, can keep it," Helene answered. "You'll note, my dear, how pure my color is... how delicately proportioned my truss is to its leaf size. A connoisseur like you, I'm sure, wouldn't vote for someone like... well, take that over-blown hussy over there! Why she's downright brazen with her extruding pistol! In my day, a blossom was taught to keep her corolla decently around her...er...parts!"
Before she could be answered, a treble voice of great sweetness started singing in the background:
Isn't she lovely!
Isn't she a dream!
The pride of the genus Supreme!
"Boo! Boo!" a raucous voice broke in. "In Mercy's name, who is that?" Alice asked.
"Oh, her!" Pink Pearl snorted. "Just an old ponticum hybrid...old Ratty Tatty we call her. She calls herself the Truss Lib. Movement - claims we're not getting equal opportunity..."
"I heard that!" shouted the president of the Lib. Movement. "And I object! You just look down on me because I'm plain. You'll thank me, someday..."
Pink Pearl smirked at her. "I've always said: If you can't win with Beauty ... try Reason!"
"I demand equal opportunity!" Miss Lib. shouted. "They call us the King of Shrubs! Bah! That proves it's a man's world! Why not the Queen of Shrubs or the Empress of Shrubs, or the Princess of Shrubs..."
"But," Alice interrupted, "aren't you bi-sexed? Aren't you both..." "That has nothing to do with it...Just because we don't have an English word that stands for both! It's time we found one..."
Alice felt that it would be best to change the subject. "Oh, what a lovely yellow!" she cried excitedly, pointing to a macabeanum truss.
" Jaundice!" snorted Dame Nellie; and dropping her voice to a conspiratorial tone: "And besides, though don't mention it to anyone...she has scales !"
Alice was amazed. "How in the world would you know that?"
Dame Nellie blushed. "I don't know directly , my dear, but . . . I saw the Gardener looking... underneath her leaves! Dirty old man, if you ask me!"
But Miss Lib. was not to be distracted. "How would you like to be called the What-You-May-Call-It of Shrubs! You wouldn't like that, would you?" "Common creature!" Dame Nellie retorted. "Just go away...you're just lavender ..."
" Barely good for under stock," sighed Pink Pearl.
" Up the Understock!" screamed Miss Lib. "You're a bunch of fuddy-duds! Stop the show! Stop it!"
" Pay her no mind," suggested Dame Nellie.
" You will too pay me some mind," Miss Lib. shouted. "This show won't go on, if I can help it!"
A general hullabaloo broke out...trusses tearing at each other...kicking, biting, snatching, pulling each other's stamens...Oh, it was a jolly mess!
Alice rushed down a path to get out of it all. Behind her, above the melee, she heard a tremulous treble voice singing uncertainly its plaintive song:
Isn't she lovely!
Isn't she a dream!