b l o g


Walking with an Umbrella 

On very wet days, I notice that even agile people (few in number, in any case) become shocking hindrances on the pavement, hazards even. Not their fault entirely.

Imagine stepping out the door, opening an umbrella, and becoming twice as wide and unavoidable as you think you are! And suddenly, to your surprise, so is everyone else! (If you are already very fat and bothersome, skip using your imagination here.)

Some think it necessary in these cases (of atmospheric water phenomena) to become giant, inconvenient toddlers. This is against the dictates of civilisation.

I present the following as rules of etiquette for walking swiftly and gracefully with an umbrella.

1. Dress well.

2. Unless there's a real reason (ice, uncrossable puddles, civil disturbance), don't walk more slowly than you normally would.

3. Follow the usual rules of the road. Make eye contact with oncoming walkers, and always offer to hold your umbrella far up over your fellow traveller's—he'll be good and proper scum often enough (I am) that you'll suffer comings-together, and the consequences, if you don't.

4. Avoid those transparent, plastic, over-the-head-and-shoulders umbrellas that look like early French balloons. Do you want to live in a diving bell?

5. Avoid any umbrella twice the width of your shoulders.

6. Carry an umbrella you can close instantly under eaves and overhangs.

7. Hold dogs out windows on rainy days. Wet, shaking, meandering, easily-tripped-over beasts are unacceptable.

8. If you buy an umbrella when it's pissing down, buy it because you realise that yours—in your hand already, because you remembered, before you left wherever you were, that you hate getting drenched—isn't so spiff. You are, apparently, not a peacock. Do not buy an umbrella because you forgot yours at home. Get soaked first. No-one wants to see the dusty-black, thin-stretchered, Chinese piece of shame you've bought because you're practical rather than thoughtful.

9. No twirling.

10. Do not say 'bumbershoot.'

11. Do not say 'brolly.'

12. Saying 'gamp' is just stupid.

13. By all means, carry a black umbrella in case it rains in the little maze where you're running with all the other rats.

14. Use your right hand.

15. What has happened to decent society? It gets harder and harder to find a coat hook or an umbrella stand in this world. Why would one want to go anywhere? I certainly never go anywhere. Never go anywhere.

16. Subways (trains in general, and buses, too) are ideal places for thieving umbrellas. Restaurants, as well. And campuses. And apartment buildings.

17. If your umbrella breaks (miser), please throw it in a bin, not next to a bin. Fit it. Broken umbrellas blow all over the place. Like trash, almost.

18. Finally, own an umbrella you are not embarrassed to carry with you on a sunny day. Then carry it. Wield it at the weather like a scimitar. The rest is up to you.

Erik Kennedy
Erik Kennedy


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