May 10th, 2006

Tom Lehrer is Smug

(no subject)

The umbrella died last night in the wind around Southie. I don't know if "a few weeks" counts as a lack-of-longevity record when it comes to umbrellas, as I'm sure there's been at least one poor bastard who's opened their brand-new umbrella in a sudden gust of wind and watched it fly off, but my umbrella's lifespan certainly was a short one. If there's any consolation, it comes in the fact that the umbrella died in the line of duty, doing exactly what it was supposed to do. I don't feel ripped off in any way, which is nice, as it's always good to enjoy miniature life disasters without a nagging persecution complex.

I will mention, however, that the next person who says "Oh, the Broadway stop is just as close to our office as the South Station stop! MapQuest says so!" is going to get a sock in the eye from yours truly. I won't even get into the fact that even the untrained eye can see that the Broadway stop is much farther away. Relying on numbers from The Internet is just not very healthy, that's all. So when I mention that for my homeward commute I'm going to walk to the Broadway stop instead of the South Station stop, just to avoid the insane Fort Point Channel bridge (which relentlessly eats umbrellas; on rainy days the garbage cans around the bridge are always stuffed with sad, tangled metal corpses) please don't say "Well, MapQuest says it's the same distance!" It's not. Want me to count the steps? I will. It takes 320 steps to get from the Mini-Metro convenience store to our front door. See? I've already counted 320 steps in the name of cartography. I will count more. And I'll do it just to shut you up.

Thus is our scene set, our long walk in the downpour begun. At first the resilient bumbershoot performs admirably on the walk up A Street, even in the precarious trench of sidewalk that smooshes us in between lamp posts and barbed-wire fencing. Phew! I figure threatening barbed-wire is better than the hurricane gales no doubt smacking their way across the bridge I'm avoiding. And then the umbrella rises up menacingly.

It's a gust of wind, sir, the bane of umbrellas! Look out! I struggle valiantly with the handle, trying to figure out what it is I should do to keep the wind from kicking up under the edges. Do I tack into the wind? Swing the umbrella around? Lee haw the b's'ns f'csle to the yardarm mooring cleat? Pass the dutchie 'pon the left-hand side? It takes far too long to remember, and in the space of three seconds, another blast of wind rips up, changing my umbrella from pleasing umbrella shape to whacked-out broomstick shape. My field of vision turns from black, white, beige and dry to gray and wet. Sopping wet. My, but those are big raindrops.

There's no shame in this. Umbrellas die all the time. You just have to soldier forth and plod along to your initial destination. And what was that Mom used to tell me? "Aw, jeez, c'mon, it's just a little rain." And that's all it is. Hup hup, here we go, keep moving, smile through the deluge, wave at any honking cars passing by. It's just a little rain. If I get wet, I get wet.

And I do get wet.

By the time I reach the Broadway station I'm soaked. I've closed the umbrella back to a vague approximation of what it used to look like, only one of the thin metal ribs is sticking up the wrong way and the John Steed-issue umbrella tip has also bent, making the thing look like a fish hook. It gets a proper burial, with short eulogy and everything, at the nearest trash can.

The bus stop outside Broadway is crowded with the living dry, huddling underneath the eaves. I saunter in, wet and unprotected and maybe slightly delirious and proud of it. I braved the elements! You fools, cringing under your State-built shelter! All you like sheep! Scared of the rain? I didn't whimper or cringe at the rain! When my protective portable roof failed, I didn't huddle! No, sir, I pushed forth, daring those raindrops to fall on my head. And just like the man whose feet are too big for his bed, nothing seems to fit! Those raindrops keep falling on my head, they keep falling! BECAUSE I'M FREE-EE-EE! NOTHING'S WORRYING M--

What was that, Mom?

"Aw, jeez, c'mon, it's just a little rain."

I walk down the Broadway platform (disconcertingly designed, like the IRT by way of David Lynch) and catch the next train home, sitting quietly in my seat, suitably humbled.

And slightly damp.