the orchid show

 

“Is this the line for the Orchid Show?” I ask the person in front. After getting the last carpark, having sat in the first traffic jam I’d ever seen to enter the Botanic Gardens, I’m surprised by the snaking queue of hundreds of people. The woman in front turns. Her hair is neon-green and matches her swinging orchid earrings. Her t-shirt claims that she is “The Crazy Plant Lady,” and I suspect that this claim has substance. Suddenly, I feel that my floral brooch to get into the spirit of things won’t be enough.

“Yes, it is. What are you hunting for? I’m searching for a Sarcochilus fitzgeraldii.”

Hunting? I just wanted a pretty plant for my bathroom.

“Well, I’d love an orchid with a nice fragrance.”

Sensing my amateurish status, she raises one eyebrow saying, “Good luck then,” and dismisses me by turning forward.

The line shrinks as a deluge of people shoves through the opening door. I have no choice but to move with the horde as I realise that I’m surrounded by desperate, cutthroat orchid obsessives. If I don’t move quickly, the last anyone will see of me will be my brooch pounded into the tarmac. I’m out of my depth as I’m swept into the auditorium.

My breath catches. Being a foot taller than most of the retiree brigade that fills the hall, I see what the fuss is about. Countless tables filled with pots of alluring, shiny green leaves, brimming with extravagant flower spikes ­– like an endless cascade of petal waterfalls. And the colours! Lush reds, lavish pinks, and opulent yellows contrasted with white, creating a heady sensation of fecundity, emphasised by the whisper of each bloom’s feminine shape.

As I’m pummelled by pensioners, I notice an orchid with the sweetest, diminutive blossoms and somehow its fragrance manages to transcend the surrounding human crush. Oh my! Instantly, I’m transported to the tropical jungle of a Queensland rainforest. Petrichor at its best. I’ve hit the jackpot.

Shifting my shoulders, my body turns to offensive mode as I begin to shove through the mass to reach the plant of my dreams.

“Nope,” as a Doc Marten stomps on my foot, that is regrettably clad only in sandals.

Biting my lip in pain, I see my queue buddy from earlier, determined to prevent my claim. Normally, I would let this go, but the pain has wakened mettle in me I didn’t know existed. Game on bitch!

Later, as I sit in the police station, my mind endlessly replays the ensuing chaos. We both charge towards the table, where the crowd, sensing a disturbance, separates like the Red Sea. My eyes widen as we collide with the precious plants and I clutch Crazy Plant Lady to cushion my fall. The vendor’s mouth opens in abject horror as an unearthly hush descends upon the room. My dream and bank balance slips away as hundreds of orchids tumble in a rainbow of destruction, ending our absurd struggle. BANG!