The Leaning Cow

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Movies – almost like real life

February 15th, 2015 ·No Comments

Ethan Wickham is a Bean man – an L.L.Bean Man. Almost everything he wears – with the exception of his underwear – comes by mail order from the L.L.Bean catalog.

He’s been a Bean Man for a little over 10 years now, ever since he saw the movie “A River Runs Through It” and subsequently read the book by Norman Maclean. Let’s just say Old Ethan identified with Montana and fly-fishing and let it go at that.

It didn’t matter that Ethan had never been to Montana and had never fished. He just watched that movie and felt the cold water of the river pulling at his legs and the morals of Montana tugging at his soul.

Of course, he never said it aloud – except when he was alone – but always in the back of his mind was the statement: In Montana we’re never late for three things – work, church and fishing.

Ethan never wondered why he didn’t pick up and leave Malcolm Falls for the Big Sky country. He knew. Two parents, one wife, three kids, two brothers, numerous friends, his house, a county club membership and his position at Wickham, Lowell, Barnes and Wickham: Attorneys at Law kept him anchored in the town in which he had been born.

He never wondered why he didn’t go out to Montana for a vacation. He knew. He didn’t want to find it was any different from the way he had found it in the movie. So, the Montana of Norman Maclean’s youth became his happy place.

It is, of course, his secret place as well. He carries on as he always has, but he carries Montana with him in his heart. And he sort of carries it on his body – in the form of his outdoorsy L.L.Bean wardrobe.

He started modestly enough with a couple pairs of rugged Timberline pants and has over the years worked himself up to the Bug Out Jacket. It arrived last Monday and hangs now in his closet, waiting for summer. When he first saw it in the catalog, he knew he had to have it.

The picture was not that captivating, reminding him of one of those transparent plastic raincoats that is supposed to fold up small enough for a pocket, but the description reeled him in: “For protection without chemicals, this jacket is a must-have. Durable 100% polyester no-see-um netting packs small enough to fit in fly vest. Front tunnel pocket for gear storage. Large drawstring hood easily accommodates hat. Elasticized wrists and drawcord waist keep pests out.”

Of course, they spray for mosquitoes in Malcolm Falls, and he really didn’t need it, but he knew it would make him feel “so Montana.” The Bug Out Headnet he passed up; it looked a little too much like a huge astronaut helmet made out of netting to be inconspicuous on the street.

Folks are used to seeing Ethan on the street in his Magalloway fly-fishing vest, with its numerous pockets. Ethan tells friends and clients he doesn’t need a PDA; he has his vest, complete with a “waterproof pocket to keep (his) wallet dry” if he should get in over his head on some legal issue.

Ethan’s wife, Maggie, has never said a word about his shift from explorer’s clothing to that of the outdoorsman. As long as he is kind and clever and entertaining and a good provider, she has no problems with his Moose River Hat – the Stetson for anglers.

Besides, she has been down this road before, so to speak. Before “A River Runs Through It” . . . and she knows this movie had to play a role in Ethan’s L.L.Bean phase . . . there was the “Indiana Jones” look, complete with battered fedora and leather jacket.

Years before that he had worn Western clothing. That had been the decade when he had caught John Wayne in “The Searchers” on the late show and had felt a bond with “The Duke” and the code of the West.

It has been better these last two incarnations – he hasn’t changed his name to match that of the character as he did when Wayne played Ethan Edwards.

That had been a little hard to explain to their friends, not to mention her parents. In his Indiana Jones stage, he had carried a coiled whip hanging from his belt and that had caused a few comments. Now he just ambles around in his fishing vest . . . and on rainy days, his waders. She thinks it is so much easier now.

She doesn’t think about what movie might have inspired him to adopt the habit of only wearing silk underwear. She hopes it was an old Cary Grant flick . . . but she doesn’t dwell on it too much.

However, she never, ever lets him watch a Three Stooges Marathon.

Tags: This and That at The Peanut Butter Cafe & Roadhouse

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