Confession: I have a special relationship with umbrellas. Maybe it’s because I was brought up in a desert and so never really had to deal with them, but I just can’t seem to handle them all that well. I leave them on trains and in buses and bars. I break them on escalators and sometimes while I’m simply walking down the street. And one of the first things to happen to me in D.C. was a stranger showing me a bit of kindness by holding an umbrella over my head in the pouring rain.
I often find myself without one at inopportune moments like that, which leads to me ducking into whichever place is closest that might sell me something to shield my head (including but not limited to train stations, CVSes, bookstores and hotels). This has led to my owning an unknown number of these devices.
But there are two mainstays in the ever-evolving collection that hold a special place in my heart: a New York Times crossword umbrella I got shortly after I moved here by subscribing to the paper and a pink duck umbrella I bought the following year because it was a pink duck umbrella. They’re both a little broken; NYT has a missing spoke cap and is bent funny, duck has a cracked eye from a time I dropped it in the Capitol and is overall just wearing out).
Today was a rather gloomy day, so I grabbed the NYT one and noticed another spoke has come loose (one hasn’t had a cap for ages). This led to the realization my duck umbrella — left at a friend’s house sometime last year and reacquired months later — has been MIA for a while, likely left behind somewhere in the city.
I could just rely on any of the umbrellas already in my apartment. But…I bought another one anyway (pink duck, to stay with the tradition). If something must be practical, it should be cute, too.
Unnecessary? Absolutely. Worth it? Yes.