On an afternoon where I had a host of other priorities and jobs to accomplish, I decided to put all that off until the evening and focus on moving into my new used car today.
One of the upsides to getting a new used car is the act of cleaning out the old car and deciding who you are going to be in the new car. I usually take a full week to open up the box into which I crammed all the “old” things while dropping the old car at the dealership. I like just one week of feeling like it’s a brand new top-of-the-line race car on loan for me to test drive. You know, to help the manufacturer realize its potential. A true fully-functional prototype. One I won’t have long, so why bother sullying it with all the baggage of my real life?
And then real life steps in, and I remember this is my car to keep on a two-year lease. The charity notebooks, the trash can, the lint roller, the glass heart from my maternal grandmother, my stash of mint gum, Sharpies, small notepads, a tub of hand wipes, and the phone charger all made their way into the main cabin of the car today. Much was tossed – my 2015 and 2014 Fringe Festival buttons, a crammed full notepad of what seems like unimportant notes now – and much more.
A week ago, I called my father and asked him how to spell his father’s middle name. I knew how to spell the beginning part and was pretty sure of the whole thing, but I really couldn’t remember if there was an E at the end.
“There’s an E. Why do you want to know?” the smile in his tone apparent.
“Well, I am finally ordering a Roscoe bag. For my car.”
“What do you mean, a Roscoe bag? Who makes it?”
So I reminded him of my small love of L.L. Bean tote bags. What made him laugh out loud was my story of the inheritance of one and the purchasing and monogramming of two more.
When my Mom’s mom died, I asked for the L.L. Bean tote bag that had Grandma’s name, Gladys, in red script. I had seen her bring it to my home many times for Thanksgiving. Always in full use, it held the fixings for stuffing, spices for the turkey, and food and utensils I might not have on hand.
She had told me that she had finally purchased one with her name on it for “going to church.” She took this bag to church when she was part of the “meal brigade.” “It’s just perfect for casseroles, which you can stack with cardboard between them in the bag. Just ask your grandfather.” I didn’t need to ask him. She never lied, but she had a hand in teaching me the art of dancing around truths that could cause harm to others.
The part of the story I remember best is how she admits that the first one she had made by L.L. Bean carried her initials: GAP. Gladys Amanda Price. They were in block letters, and she liked them in that order and in that font. “But at the time that store, The Gap, was very popular, and someone did the very un-Christian thing and swiped it from me. I guess because they thought it was from there.”
Not to be deterred from her deliveries of food to the widows, widowers, mourners, wedding parties, and celebrants, she ordered another one. Same red-and-cream bag, same handle structure, but this time with her name in cursive. “Very different and definitely mine,” she concluded.
When L.L. Bean came out with the offering of longer handles – much easier to get up on your shoulder for pack-horse style carrying, my stock in trade – I was transfixed and knew I must have one. Not one to purchase things out of silly desire, I made a plan. I explained to my husband that, with all the road trips we were taking with our young son, we needed a bag to carry the food into and out of the car with ease. The food that wasn’t in the small travel cooler. The apples, the EDC knife, the tablecloth, the crackers, cookies, and chips. We stopped often at roadside parks and Interstate rest areas to stretch legs and eat, so this bag would “be perfect!”
My dad’s mom had just recently passed away, and I knew exactly what I would emblazon the smaller, long-handled red-and-cream bag with: Virginia. In cursive. I would have both of my grandmother’s working with me again. It was dreamy when it arrived, and its use has been frequent.
With my new used car, I wanted a bag for all of my road supplies. Moving blankets for work, jumper cables, ice scraper, cotton grocery bags, first aid kit, and more. I wanted it to zip closed and have a terrific monogram. Not something that stated something boring like “car things”. I had been wanting a blue L.L. Bean tote for a few years but really had no apparent use for it. But this: this was clearly an apparent use. A true necessity.
Five days after laughing my way through the story with my dad and hanging up, the bag arrived. The biggest bag they make and with short handles, Roscoe will start riding with me tomorrow. I’ve stashed all the unsightly but necessary things away and zipped the top shut.
I probably should have named it “Cal” or “Madison” after my mom’s father. He was the highway patrolman who taught me car safety and the need to have on hand the things that will be riding in the Roscoe bag in the first place.
But I needed Hubert Roscoe Simmons to help me organize the remotest section of my car. He was a terribly tidy farmer who worked very hard, as all my grandparents did. But his cabinet-making workshop was a place to behold when I was a child. We three girls were always welcome and were taught the virtues of having every tool and piece of wood in its place at all times.
That’s who’s riding with me in my fully outfitted car starting tomorrow. Roscoe.
p.s. I wrote about my grandfather Cal here. I miss all my grandparents every single day.
p.p.s. Previous musings about the color blue and L.L. Bean totes can be found here and here.