It was a dreary gray morning in Chicago, the kind made for cuddles and movies. I had exited the train and was navigating through Union Station, trudging through a maze of commuters, and trying not to get impaled in the genitals by people who insist on carrying their over-sized umbrellas horizontally. The escalator ride was the same it was everyday, perhaps less germy, but probably more. As I stepped out into the gloom, the city proved its nickname with winds, just short of gales, whipping east across the Chicago River. En mass, the other rats and I opened our umbrellas to shield us from the elements. As I walked, I noticed broken and abandoned umbrellas in varying degrees of destruction. It was as if touring some mystic Umbrella Graveyard, known mostly by legend, lesser by visitation because it doesn’t exist.
I believe my umbrella noticed the cadavers of his cousins as well, for it seemed to become laden with woe and started to whip itself frantically, to and fro, in my hand. My God, it’s trying to escape! We struggled for control but much like a 3-year old, it has its own ideas and will damn well execute them. My umbrella suddenly jerked in my hand sharply to the left and hit me directly on the head. I got a firmer, throttling grip, tacitly commanding its obedience. “I will not let you become one of the discarded!” Only, I said it in my mind because I am not yet crazy enough to verbalize it. As an answer, it immediately threw itself to the right as if to run with the wind. Ahhhh! A chance to be free! However, the tether was securely wrapped around my wrist and all my umbrella could do was turn itself inside-out. I struggled once again to gain some sort of control, some vestige of order. Once accomplished, my umbrella realized it had only one resort. In umbrella lore, it is the epitome of glory and fame.
My umbrella tried to Mary Poppins me over the Chicago river.
At that moment I knew a softer touch was needed. I may have even felt pity, or maybe that’s just what I feel when my pants are soaked through. I folded my umbrella into what I assume is the fetal position for umbrellas. I’m not sure. I am not an umbrella. I wrapped the hook-and-loop strip of material securely around it–my swaddled umbrella. I then put it back in my backpack, nice and snug and safe from the elements it’s supposed to protect me from. I then resorted to my trusty windbreaker as my guardian and protector. There. All was well…except the part where my hood tried to blind and strangle me in the street.