My mother has always subscribed to the philosophy that it’s always better to anticipate a need, prepare for it, and be Johnny-on-the-spot should said need arise.
“It’s always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it,” she has intoned for as long as I can remember while stuffing every sweater I ever owned into a bag for a spend-the-night party at a friend’s house.
Mothers are always good for a few choice life lessons with “never pass up a bathroom” ranking right up at the top of the list. She’s also told me that “life’s uncertain; you’d better eat dessert first”. While that last one is my personal favorite, I must admit that the older I get, the more I am gaining an appreciation for the variety of bathroom facilities available to the public.
Whenever I think about Mother’s nuggets of wisdom that annoyed the heck out of me during my growing up years, it never fails that I’ll have some event for which I am preparing and that nagging “it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it” drags on my very being until I wind up dragging out a bigger suitcase for all the stuff I would not have considered had I been able to get my mother’s admonition out of my head. Extra baggage charges from airlines are making me re-think that practice, though.
Thinking about “have vs. need” always takes me to the first football game we took after she got her new, white 1977 Buick Electra with the dark red upholstery. I’m sure there are other collegiate sports fans that purchase their cars, clothes, and furniture in school colors, but we seem to have a profusion of red-and-black Bulldog brainwash furnishings for every occasion around our little corner of the world.
Well, Thursday night before the Vanderbilt game rolled around, I was going with my parents and another couple to Nashville to rain on Vandy’s homecoming parade. With five adults – and I do use that term loosely – traveling in the same vehicle with clothes, pom-poms, rain gear, and “the goody box” from which an enterprising soul could have set up a small restaurant and bar, the extra-spacious trunk of the new car was going to be given an early test: Could it adequately hold all the necessities required for attendance at a Georgia football game without the five chronologically mature persons having to sacrifice leg-and-elbow room in the passenger compartment?
Since Daddy had to work that day, Mother packed the car. She’d already closed the trunk when I got to the house, so my suitcase rode in the back floorboard to our first stop. C.H. got home from the drug store just in time to hop behind the wheel for the trip to Nashville via Atlanta where we would pick up our friends. As we drove along, Mother began making a mental list of what all she had packed. Along about Chamblee, we knew we were in trouble: “You know we’ll be in the mountains and it can turn cold, so I brought my winter coat,” she started. “But, then, it may just be a beautiful October day, so I packed my spring coat just in case.” Daddy and I looked at each other.
“Helen, you did bring a rain coat, didn’t you?” she asked. “I packed mine since it could decide to rain.” We didn’t have the Weather Channel back in 1977. In fact, we just barely had WTBS – the Superstation.
“Of course, I brought my red cape so everyone will know we’re Georgia fans,” she recounted happily, oblivious to my ever-widening eyes. We still had two more people’s stuff to get into the trunk. I was hoping I could talk C.H. into letting me drive so I wouldn’t have to hold The Goody Box in my lap all the way to Nashville. “Oh, and I’m so glad I didn’t forget my Georgia blazer in case it’s too warm for the cape…” It was just too much for my father. “Evelyn, I know this car has a big trunk, but where do you think everyone else’s stuff is supposed to go?”
She was indignant. “Well, Haase, there’s plenty of room. Your duffel bag fit back there just fine. I hardly had any trouble closing the trunk.” As she said this, I was looking at my suitcase still in the floorboard and wondering whether there was anything in there I could do without for the weekend.
A little while later, it only took two of us sitting on the trunk to close it.
The Goody Box rode up front with us. Whether I had clothes or not, The Goody Box was one of those things we knew we were gonna need.
Helen Person is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.