As she unlocked the ornate door of the Emerald Victorian, walked inside, and started preparing the morning coffee, Laetitia thought about what a great source of fun the Bailey and Hurst books had proven to be. She started the pot brewing, and by the time the aroma began to drift into the library, she had selected today’s destination from Rude UK.
Cockpole Green is a small village in Berkshire a few miles from the Thames. The original green for which the community is named is in two civil parishes: Hurley and Wargrave. Laetitia’s group consisted mostly of Americans who wanted to shop in England. It didn’t take long for them to exhaust the shopping possibilities in Cockpole Green, so she took them to nearby Henley-on-Thames, which is larger. She gave the group a few hours to shop and a designated meeting place, and then went back to Cockpole Green to spend some time on her own.
She sat on a bench on the old village green near a building entirely covered with ivy. She took out her book and began to read, but soon discovered that there was steady traffic of people with plants into and out of the building. There was no sign designating the building’s purpose. “Perhaps it’s a plant sale,” she thought. Her curiosity aroused, Laetitia put her book away and entered the building.
Inside was a large room with a bar at one end and tables in the center. It seemed a typical bar scene, until one noticed that the center of the room was lit by the eerie glow of grow-lights, and at the tables were humans sitting across from plants. Laetitia moved to the bar, perched on a stool, ordered a Pimm’s Cup, and looked around the room. In the darker recesses of the room near the back wall, there were humans entwined with plants.
The more brightly lit walls near the front of the room were covered with an interesting array of memorabilia. There was a portrait of the Jolly Green Giant that had an autograph that read, “With love from the Valley, J. G. G.” There were “safe sex” posters giving tips on how to stop the spread of aphids. Most interesting were the posters depicting classical Roman and Greek statues of men and women with their private parts covered with leaves still attached to entwining plants.
In front of the humans at the tables were drinks recognizable to anyone who had a libation now and then, but in front of the plants were blue drinks, not quite resembling a blue Curacao or a blue Hawaii. “That’s Miracle Gro,” said the bartender, “This is a green bar—our patrons are herbosexuals. I’m not of that persuasion myself, but I’ve worked here a number of years and know a lot about the movement. It’s a practice that goes back to ancient times and has yet to come out of the closet. There used to be a considerable amount of classical statuary like those on the poster over there. From time to time groups that adhered to rival sexual persuasions desecrated their statues by removing the entwining plants. They couldn’t remove the leaves covering the private parts without disfiguring the human part of the statue, so they left them. Later, when the various puritanical movements came along, it gave them an idea for covering up the sexuality of Adam and Eve and other nude art. There a few of the original statues like you see in the poster extant, but they’re mostly in private collections.”
Just then, a woman came into the bar and chose a stool next to Laetitia. She said her name was Melba and she had a zucchini farm in the country. She had been staffing her booth earlier, but, now was ready to go home and was trying to meet a plant to take home for the evening. The multiple-verse limerick of the day, which Melba’s story inspired, was presented when Laetitia rejoined her group in late afternoon.
When Melba strode through Cockpole Green
Her mind turned to matters serene
For since her salad days
Her vision would glaze
As she thought of things green but not clean.
On her job as she met with a client
She would think of the Jolly Green Giant
And sigh with relief
As he stripped off each leaf
While she lay down before him compliant.
And on holiday near Rosslyn Glen
She dreamed about Rosslyn’s green men
Who would lovingly grapple
With her in the Chapel
So she went there again and again.
When her listlessness made friends distraught
“They’re just green with envy,” she thought
And was happy thereafter
In a life filled with laughter
On the zucchini farm that she bought.