Tasting a bit of well-earned leisure in the Lowe's State loges last Saturday night, we had a brain-storm that carried across a couple of centuries, from the elite sectors of Manhattan to the 18th Century hot spots along the Left Bank. Greta Garbo, "La Dame aux Camelias", simplified for the American people into just plain "Camille".
But a camclia's camelia, for a' that, no matter what the language. And when the billboards in a rapt ecstatic way hailed the Garbo as she lured Robert Taylor to her by the scent of her camelias, we stepped inside the gates without an instant wasted. As a matter of fact Robert Taylor is a big slug: Garbo wouldn't need any flowers to draw us down the primrose path. But that's a matter for the Moviegoer; this is a botany story.
Now we never did know a thing about flowers. Occasionally we've had to send them to girls, and then they've impressed our bank book a good deal. Yet even the Pierre Roof and somebody's debutante daughter tastefully decorated in silver smilax, silver fox, and perhaps a corsage of spinach have left us cold as we eyed down the page, up of the night's festivities. Botany didn't mean much then.
But watching the Garbo and Taylor enjoy each other to the full, with now a roving eye, now an unconnubial sigh, now a kiss and a sniff at the inevitable camelias she caried at her breast, our brain snapped. The meaning of camelias, and flowers in general, and girls in particular, dawned. Three Cambridge florists have looked agog as we popped into their shops, smelled their specimens, and popped out again high in humor, proving our theory.
Just as we thought. No camelias lured Robert Taylor to Garbo's side. You can guess what lured him as well as we. For camelais have no smell.