why anyone would like getting caught in the rain is beyond me. don’t get me wrong– I love the rain when seen from the inside out, from my apartment, or a car. but getting caught without an umbrella in a downpour does not say "party!" to me the way a pina colada does. I don’t remember who sings that song (Barry Manilow??) and I’m too tired to look it up, but whoever you are, you are Wrong.
It’s been rainy quite a bit in my world lately– not metaphorically, but quite literally. Big plunking raindrosp falling on my head every time I turn around. Last week, all weekend, this week… we went to the Bourgogne for Easter weekend and dropped off a friend at some obscure mountain aerie she called her house, and on the way back down the mountain the gods began throwing ice cubes down at the car. That’s some hail the French weather system managed to come up with. The party another friend hosted Sunday night? a giant rainfest. the drive back to paris? rain, with a generous helping of traffic.
But despite the fact that it’s always raining, I seem to have difficulty remembering to bring an umbrella. You know the line that says something about how umbrella are never really "yours," they’re just on loan from the universe? (I’m fairly positive that’s from an episode of "Seinfeld.") Well, normally I am very surveillant of my umbrella. I rarely lose them. I just forget to bring them. Or, like Helen Schlegel, I steal other people’s.
Last week, however, I began the curious habit of borrowing umbrellas. On thursday I was bustling down Blvd Saint Michel on my way to the Luxembourg RER, when I ran into Kaitlin. It was pouring and I grabbed her under an overhang to moan that I had forgotten my umbrella and was soaking wet and had a meeting to go to in Chatenay-Malabry. Kaitlin, ever the kindest of souls, offered me hers, which I surprised myself (and possibly her as well) by accepting. I was desperately unhappy and soaking wet and K’s red umbrella made all the difference. (I should add that at the moment she was wearing a hat and had the umbrella in her bag, so it’s not like I took the shelter from over her head). We made a special trip to the 5th arrondissement on Saturday morning before heading out of town to put the umbrella in Kaitlin’s mailbox. The End.
This week, I again set off without am umbrella, and it again began to pour while I was out and about. This time I was in the 17th, giving my weekly English lesson to a charming 10 year-old named Louise. When the lesson was over and I was leaving, her father noticed I had no umbrella and insisted I borrow one of theirs, which I again gladly accepted.
Today I left the house armed with Louise’s father’s umbrella (I have an aversion to bringing my own umbrella, it seems, but I’ll bring other peoples’–??). It was sunny all day long. Then, around 6, it started to pour. By this time I had made all of my rounds around the city, and was warmly ensconced in the reading room of the Bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve. I heard the echo of the rain on the dome above, and thought to myself "My, how lucky that I brought an umbrella" followed immediately by "Shit I left Louise’s father’s umbrella at Le Cercle," the cafe where I had been at 4 pm.
I rushed back to the cafe, all of a sudden nervous that in the downpour, someone would make off with my lent umbrella. I got soaked between the library and the cafe, and when I arrived I looked like someone had soaked me with a water balloon. I said piteously to the barman, "Please, sir, I’ve forgotten my umbrella." The gallants gathered around the bar began to hoot. "You needed it five minutes ago, mademoiselle!" they choked out. The barman presented me with the umbrella and asked if that was the one. Since it was not really my umbrella, I didn’t recognize it right away, but sort of looked at it and blinked before saying yes, yes, that’s the one, thank you. Of course more derision followed as if to insinuate that I were accepting any old umbrella. How could I explain that it wasn’t really mine, but a lent umbrella? Who were they to enforce some kind of rule of ownership on an object said to belong not to any human but to all humans?
I’m home now, and I’m dry. But watch– next tuesday I’ll forget to bring the umbrella back to Louise’s father.