Friday, October 26, 2012

LL Bean and the Chicken Suit

Yesterday, a package arrived from LL Bean.  We love LL Bean here. 

Remember I told you that twenty years ago, Mike and I honeymooned in Maine on the Allagash waterways?  The guy who rented the canoe to us was called Eddie, but we called him Crazy Eddie. We didn't pick this name randomly.  If you lived in New Jersey in the 80s, you saw the real Crazy Eddie on a dumb commercial on late-night TV.  Our Crazy Eddie was a fat guy in overalls with a cigarette dropping ash on the floorboards, who didn't mind that the canoe on his van was sliding from side to side with each pot hole he hit in the dirt road.  He didn't mind that our bench seat rocked back and forth as he alternated accelerating and slamming on the brakes going down this road.  He didn't care that our dog, Indiana, was scrabbling on his bare floorboards to keep her balance.  Who knew you could drive fifty-five on a rutted, washboard road that didn't have much gravel left on it. 

Then, there was the poor moose.  It's only offense was to make the mistake of trying to walk out onto this road when Crazy Eddie was coming.  He slammed his foot on the gas and nearly made contact as the moose took a breath or two too long to get up to speed and out of his way. You've had a moment when you closed your eyes and said, "I'm going to die today." I know you have.  Everybody has. Well, that was one of those moments for me.  Despite the fact that I was seeing my first moose, I closed my eyes.

So, when Crazy Eddie asked us if we were here to do some shopping at LaLa Bean, I didn't answer for a moment.  I had no idea what he was talking about.  I was just trying not to see my own end on this good green earth.

"What's LaLa Bean?" Mike asked, sounding polite through gritted teeth.  We were both trying to hold onto Indiana.  Our Duluth packs were sliding around in the back and Mike had one foot planted behind her to keep them from sliding into her and taking her legs out from under her. 

"You know, the clothing outfitter," Crazy Eddie said, spitting out the open, or broken, window. 

"Sure, of course, we're going there right after our trip," Mike said with some presence, as Eddie skidded to a dusty stop just fifteen feet short of the lake where we were going to put in and start our trip.  A stop at LL Bean was news to me. 

Now, I told you all about that trip, didn't I?  There were the guys who fed steak to Indiana, a pit bull mix, as they told us how she'd turn on us some day, how she'd likely go for the throat, the bear and her cub that we didn't point out to her for fear she'd see a bad end by barking at or chasing them, the seriously cold night she snuggled between us in the tent, smelling of fish and gritty with sand, because the temperatures dipped down into the twenties that night and she was shivering.  It was a wonderful trip, but I'm not going to repeat myself. 

Well, after we were done canoeing, Mike did take me down to LL Bean.  Their canoe section alone was enough to make me melt with happiness.  Unfortunately, since we were in Maine and we lived in the Pacific Northwest, we weren't going to be buying a new canoe that day, no matter how much rocker that Dagger canoe had in its keel.  We did, however, buy some clothes, plus a new duffel so we could get them home on the plane.

Those were the days when we still signed up to get the 20% off when cashiers asked us to apply for a new credit card. Do you remember when everyone started doing that?  I had signed up for JC Penney and Macy's too, but the LL Bean Visa is the only one we still use.   It's advantage is that we get credit toward clothes that we buy online.  Right now, as I sit here in my living room, I am an unintentional advertisement for LL Bean, though I don't look nearly as thin or as pretty as the models in their catalogs.  I'm wearing flannel-lined jeans, a well-used cardigan sweater, and a pima cotton mock T-shirt.  I used to smile when I whipped my LL Bean card out at REI or Cabela's, but I hardly notice any more.  All of Mike's work clothes come from LL Bean.  If it's wrinkle resistant cotton, he probably has more than one color. 

So when Mike told me he'd spent $110 and used all $300 of our coupons on a big order at LL Bean, I didn't bat an eye.  Some of his pants were getting fuzzy at the hem.  He buys them too long, but that just tells him when it's time to buy new ones.  I did start thinking I might need a couple of turtle neck shirts, though.

Yesterday, the UPS truck was in the driveway when I got home.

"Did you leave me a present?" I asked the driver.  Now, I like my UPS guy because he likes my dog, Teddy. 

"Nope, it was addressed to Mike,"  he said, holding back a smile.

"Must be our LL Bean package then," I said as he hopped back into his truck.

"Have a good one!  Maybe it'll be a present for you next time."

"I hope so!" I waved as he backed out of our drive. 

A fat bag leaned on the front door.  Later, when Mike opened it, I didn't even look at what had been in it.  Today, when there was a second fat package from LL Bean at the door, I started wondering what he'd bought. 

Tonight, he showed me his stash.  Among other things, he'd bought a leather hat with flaps for the ears and a down coat.  My mind stopped there since those things sounded awfully warm and cosy.  I'm into warm and cosy.

"What'd you get for me?" I asked cheerfully, thinking he'd hold up a couple pair of wrinkle resistant work pants or a couple dress shirts still in their plastic bags. 

"A chicken suit!"

"A what?"

"I got you a chicken suit, to wear for the Court of Honor next Saturday.  Well, I asked, but I'm not sure I can get anyone else to wear it.  Bob won't wear it and I asked Brian since he already got his Eagle last month, but I haven't heard back from him yet."  Mike was rambling.  He never rambles.

"Do I have to speak in this chicken suit?" I asked. Mike shook his head, looking up at me from the couch.  He was doing his cute face.  I'm always in trouble when he does his cute face.

"Do I have to sing in this chicken suit?"  I think that one of the most demoralizing things I can think of would be to have to sing in a chicken suit, don't you think? Mike shook his head again, eyebrows raised.  He was smart enough not to smile yet.  I rubbed my forehead where the cancer spot still itches a little as it heals.  When I looked up, Mike was still looking at me with that face.  I try to help in my new role as the wife of the Scoutmaster, but I never thought I'd be up in front of a bunch of people in a chicken suit. 

"Well, okay, as long as I don't have to be a chicken that sings."  Right now, I may not be loving LL Bean the way I was an hour ago.  I just hope this costume is cosy and warm.

Thank you for listening, jb


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