It’s a rainy day here in New York City. I like it though. Of course, I don’t have an outrageously expensive women’s haircut that will somehow decompose at the slightest hint of precipitation like the Wicked Witch of the West. I’ve never worn a weave nor have I chemically-straightened my hair. I knew a girl once who had these deliciously flouncy, bouncy curls. Perhaps because of her head of hair, I always had the impression that she was forever teetering on the edge of the giggles. Her youth and spirit were extinguished, tragically, on the day that she first chemically-straightened her hair. I believe this decision came on the soggy heels of a week of inclement weather. For some unfuckable reason, she preferred her hair straight and never went back to the cascade of auburn ringlets I found so dear. Priests will tell you that being straight is a choice; I say it’s the wrong one.
Today the air is warm enough that the rain won’t make you cold. For some reason, a rain like this feels peaceful. It seems to slow people down as opposed to a driving, inescapable rain, which isn’t good for anyone. Especially during a round of links golf with your father in Scotland where your rain gloves are damning your draw to a snap hook. But a slight rain, spritzed over an uncovered head over a couple blocks, leads to that perfect sheen that makes you shine like a hero. As I stepped off the elevator this morning, I felt like someone with long stories to tell. And then radio started, my hair dried, and I offered the same insipid drivel that I proffer each morning.
Two hours later, I stepped out to fetch a coffee. My preferred grind is well-nigh on two blocks—a safe, uneventful journey on dry days. Yet from the moment I stepped out of our building, I found myself dodging the spindly, fractured ribs of umbrellas held at eye-level by so many inconsiderate terrorists. The sidewalk became a pathway to vision loss; the crosswalk a minefield of thorny mushrooms. Worse, still, was the indifference of the umbrellas’ masters. Like owners walking their “he’s friendly!” pit bulls in public, these motherfuckers either didn’t know, or didn’t care, that their umbrella branches were a threat to us uncovered civilians brave enough to let our scalps breathe.
This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with these lawless cunts. I rarely use that word, so it should tell you just how angry I am. Also, according to the cunt rules, it’s only offensive when applied strictly to women. In this instance, I use the word with the most gender-fluid application. Men, women, they, it… if you refuse to move your umbrella out of the eyeball-path of a braver soul, you’re a cunt.
Time for math: the radius of your typical umbrella is two-three feet. A normal human body on an upstanding, likable citizen—someone familiar with vegetable displays and cardio equipment—is about two feet wide. This means that most umbrella-holders should have one or two feet of coverage on either side. One or two feet of room to shift the umbrella so as to make space for someone passing you the opposite way, without getting wet.
And yet consistently, stubbornly, maniacally, these self-centered dementors hold their umbrella stems rock steady. Unwavering and unmoving, statuesque and still. Neither up nor down, nor side to side, their wrists stay put like protesting teenagers squatting in front of a rainforest bulldozer. Against their inertia, I have three options:
1) Take a wide step around them to avoid the contact.
2) Wear my squash goggles on rainy days.
3) Raise a forearm to take the brunt of the piercing collision instead of my face.
Option one is a non-starter for me. I don’t spend the last 10 minutes of every workout in an ab bridge, breathing through my teeth and quaking on my forearms, to avoid contact. The whole point of blasting core is to sustain contact without going down. Fuck that.
Option two is only slightly less miserable than option one. Anybody who wears squash goggles away from a squash court is a dickhead.
Which leaves option three. I hate to say it, but this is the best solution I’ve found. I raise both forearms in front of my face as though I’m running through a dark, dark wood like that Ruth Ware book, “In A Dark, Dark Wood.” If the opponent is particularly resolute, and doesn’t make any effort at all to move their umbrella, I might extend the arms a bit through contact. Not enough to get called for offensive pass interference, but enough to let them know that my core is a granite block capable of grating parmesan or drying garments just washed in the Euphrates.
For now, if you have to walk with an umbrella, be considerate of those who strut raw-dog through the rain. Give our eyeballs the chance to live the life that Oedipus could not. And if you’re one of the extremely rare people who moves her umbrella to the side, out of respect for us explorers, we salute you.