Greta Garbo And The Holy Trinity

Tenn in Conversation
New Orleans

There was--as so often happened--a lovely afternoon party at Ruth Ford's apartment, and it was warm and woody and art-filled, and in the corner, lovely and alone, was Greta Garbo. Absolutely no one would approach her, and she sat or stood, presumably content, through the afternoon.

Age had amplified her beauty, and her head was large like something on a statue in a museum: She truly was crafted like no one else, and she dominated her space as she had dominated the screen.

Ruth began a game of sorts: She is a marvelous, manic hostess, and she is always orchestrating her parties. Ruth asked her guests what they considered their own, personal Holy Trinity.

There was lots of love and work mentioned. Leonard Bernstein offered his own trinity: "Music, music, and...more music!" I was stymied and could only offer that I hadn't become terribly familiar with the present, canonical, ordained Holy Trinity, so I did not feel comfortable altering it to my own needs.

This response landed like a lady's fart in an elevator.

Garbo spoke up from her corner, startling everyone in the room.

In that inimitable voice she stated that her Holy Trinity was "Coffee and vodka."

Everyone murmured and stared into their drinks and at their shoes, but Ruth--brave and curious--asked about the third item in the Trinity.

"You only said coffee and vodka," she goaded. "What is the third thing?"

"That," Garbo replied, "is up to the vodka."


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