Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Oh, Brother

I have had few obsessions in my life, but for a brief while I was somewhat consumed by Humphrey Bogart films. At one point I attempted to record every Bogart film I could find - he made about 75 movies in his lifetime. I managed to record or buy most of them. I have no idea why. It became something to do....and I did it. I think I still have most of the grainy videos stashed in a closet somewhere. I don't watch them. Many are very bad.

One fairly forgettable movie in which Bogart had a supporting role as a rival gangster was called "Brother Orchid." It was one of the final films Bogart made before he became a leading man. His role was overshadowed by the performances of Edward G. Robinson and Ann Southern which made the movie somewhat salvageable.

The only reason I mention this film at all is that its title crossed my mind today as I saw a story about a guy in Houston who has been arrested for smuggling orchids. Doing a news search as I sat down to write about this, I noticed stories of two other men who recently were charged or copped pleas to this same or a very similar offense. Apparently some folks are obsessed with smuggling orchids. Who knew?

I don't mean to minimize the seriousness of this crime. I'm sure these orchids are endangered species and that's why it's a federal offense to stuff them in your pants in Peru and unload them in Houston - actually I don't know how you even go about smuggling orchids. Do they have dogs trained to sniff them out?

Forget I asked that. If anyone is tempted to explain to me why this is such a heinous act, please resist the urge. I'll defer to Uncle Sam on this one. Orchid smuggling is a crime. Bad bad orchid smugglers!

In any case, this particular nefarious orchid smuggler in Houston is likely going to go to prison....for up to 35 years.

35 years for orchid smuggling.

I'm sorry.

I couldn't help it.

The image of Bogart in the role of some prison thug instantly popped into my mind.

All I could think of was a gruff and threatening Bogart meeting up behind bars with this admitted pansy purloiner.

How awkward would that conversation be?

"So...what are you in for?"