By loyal Emmet
No one has been more loyal to L. L. Bean and the Red Sox than I have. You can ask anyone.
Cobb Manor is filled with Bean items from the down bedspreads to the polo shirts piled unceremoniously in the bedroom. The barn is chock full with Bean camping gear including tent, sleeping bag, an entire camp kitchen and 42 flashlights. (I have a problem)
I have made a pilgrimage to Red Sox spring training to Ft. Myers, Florida almost every year since 1993, when they moved there. I started with the Sox around 1948 (top that!) when the men had to evacuate Perham Street for Alice Logue’s surprise shower. I will never forget emerging from that dank, dark concourse into the sun and that green, green grass. Only when I made those trips to Ireland decades later did I see such green grass. I have been with the Sox through “Bootsie” Buddin, Willoughby and Bucky (you know) Dent, Buckner and Mariano Rivera. So don’t tell me. I saw Ted Williams hit. (Top that.)
It started with the Red Sox several years ago. I made an iron-clad promise when I first went to the park in Ft. Myers that I would never by a ball park beer because of the price. I think they started at about $5 and went up to $7. Ridiculous. I recently bought a 30 pack of Coors for $20. According to my Roslindale High School math, that comes out to $1.50 per ice-cold can. That’s more like it. Avoiding beer in 80 degree heat for several hours was a testimony to my Irish character. I’d show them.
That iron-clad promise was sorely tested a few years ago, when I made the three-hour trip from Spring Hill to Ft. Myers. It was about 85 degrees that day and I just barely made it in time for the first pitch. I drove directly to the park and decided that this was the day. I desperately needed a cold one. I ran up to the beer booth and showed my license, a damned new requirement. I was already past 70 and looked every day of it. Like she needed an I.D.
“No beer,” she said. “This license is expired.”
“So what? I don’t plan to drive that beer. I plan to drink it. This is proof that I am over 21. Way over 21,” I pleaded. It was company policy, she said and I walked away parched and sweating. I know that I could have got a coke for my thirst. Be serious. Needless to say, I kept my no-beer promise at the ball park which has lasted until this very day. I’ll show them.
I must explain that my “real” license is not expired. I keep that in my car for those late night stops by police cars with blinking lights. Nothing scares me more than those blinking light. It is never a pleasant experience. I keep the “good” license nearby to show the police. When I get a new license, I keep the old one in my wallet for identification purposes. Good idea, huh?
The Red Sox-beer-license fiasco was largely forgotten until last week when I visited my (once) favorite store, L. L. Bean. One major reason I love the Freeport colossus is their no-questions-asked return policy. Classy. I planned to return an unused gift shirt and three (count ‘em) solar powered lanterns. The fact that I had three unworking solar powered lanterns is testimony to my relentlessly positive attitude. You see the idea is to leave these lanterns in the sun all day and they will supply light to your deck all night. Nice, huh? The first one lasted about a month and I bought another, “improved” model. That lasted about a month and I bought a third one. By now they have perfected it, right? Wrong. That last about a month and a half.
Seemed like such a good idea.
Last week I dropped into the Bean store and piled my shirt and lanterns on the return counter. For reasons unknown, the clerk asked for my license. I gave him my wallet version of my license. “This has expired,” he said, like I didn’t know.
“So what? I don’t plan to drive these items, I plan to return them,” I argued once again. I reasoned that the document was a photo I.D. with my name, address and birth date, the information I assumed he was looking for. Why did he care if the document had expired? “Company policy” was the answer once again and I requested a supervisor.
The Red Sox, then L.L. Bean had turned against me?
As I raised my voice in argument awaiting this supervisor, the elegant Blue Eyes stepped forward. She dislikes loud noise and argument. What she is doing with me is unfathomable. “Can you use my license?” she asked the now agitated clerk.
“Of course,” he said and handed over a gift card for $114.
I will never understand the expired license “problem,” but I will continue to carry the old one in my wallet and the current one in my car.
And always keep Blue Eyes by my side.