Where I live where rain is part of coastal living, many complain about it yet still live here. And since it comes whether we like it or not any time of the year, we have no choice but to just flow right along with it. Resistance is futile on the West Coast; just put on your boots and raincoat and get on with it.
Packing an umbrella is typical, and not having one is ludicrous. I carry mine right up until July. Some folks think I am silly, but I was a Brownie then a Girl Guide – I am always prepared.
As I walk around downtown Victoria, the crazy quilt of umbrellas intrigues me. And as someone’s umbrella almost pokes out my eye in their rush to pass me, their umbrella of black fabric printed with red kisses makes me wonder - are umbrellas an expression of age, gender, and status?
There’s the typical businessman decked out in a dark suit and tie with his black raincoat flapping around his knees. What does he carry? A sombre black umbrella. There are those who prefer the compact sort, the perfect size when collapsed for a briefcase. Or there is the ultra-dapper businessman who opts for the classic cane-style, complete with a U-shaped wooden handle. Whether he is hoping for an impromptu fencing match, or whether he thinks of it as a weapon of self-defence, who knows. But it’s all in the ‘look,’ I guess.
The average office worker can be seen carrying any kind. A man in chinos and a casual shirt and tie sets off his attire with an umbrella that either a/ is used as a promotional piece, b/ is one he won in a raffle and has no other choice, or c/ is one he just really likes. Brightly coloured never-ending comic strips circle the top, and although it's not an umbrella I would consider ugly, it just didn’t match the rest of him. Oblivious to the fact that he stood out among all the dark and dreary umbrellas marching past him, I must say I was rather impressed with his bold choice.
Or maybe he just borrowed it from the girl in the cubicle next to him.
Then there is another fellow, similarly dressed, marching by carrying one of the iconic beige, black, white and red check of Burberry. Although Burberry fashions everyone, man or woman, this fellow caught my attention as I usually see women sporting this pattern in scarves, bags and umbrellas. But I should talk. My unfashionista-self owns nothing Burberry, and the holes in my socks are testament to my priorities. But as he turned to go in the other direction, I couldn't help but notice the bent, broken, flattened back of the umbrella had the rainwater running down the back of his jacket.
There are the women who have umbrellas of bright and colourful pansies, or of kittens prancing around the edge, or of happy little polka dots – anything to bring joy during dark and dreary days. I have yet to know a man who would happily walk down the street carrying a pink umbrella with pansies and smiley faces all over it. I wouldn’t exactly walk down the street with an umbrella sporting skulls along the brim.
Some women match their umbrella to their coat and carry in style - class versus flash (hello Gucci?) There are the young with their dinosaur umbrellas (my house saw many of these) for boys, or Barbie for girls. Some folks simply opt for the dark and unassuming, hoping to blend in and be anonymous, and not draw attention to themselves. There are those who snatch the closest one from their friend or co-worker, eager to preserve their hair and clothes. For some it's simply a matter of staying dry; they don't care what they use and are happy to find one in a corner somewhere. Lost and found departments are usually overflowing with them.
Hello Kitty always smiling.
London Humane Society. Naturally like the demise of most umbrellas, I lost it, but would I carry it around now? Not likely. I have moved on in the umbrella department.
I carry an understated black compact umbrella, one I can tuck in my bag or purse. One that lets me people/umbrella-watch, unnoticed.
In the end, it doesn't matter who you are and what kind you have, as long as you have one at all.