Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rose and Umbrellas

I seem to have bad luck when it comes to unexpected rain, expected rain, and umbrella possession in times of rain. I spent three cold and rainy days in Bordeaux in 2005 being perpetually wet and cold. I got caught in a torrential sleeting rainstorm in Bayeux and ducked into a bookshop to pretend to look at children's books. Walking back to my building from the library in Cortland while wearing white capri pants and a blue tank top, it started to rain heavily. A freak rainstorm in Cortland forced me into the bookstore where I bought an umbrella for $25. I later "lost" the umbrella at Andy's apartment in West Campus; we maintain that one of his idiot roommates or their friends took it. Most recently, Maggie and I braved the Eiffel Tower in the rain without an umbrella.

In short, I have had poor experiences with rain and the appropriate protection against it. I suppose a positive rain experience is hard to come by; after all, it usually ruins all plans and no one's hair looks good after coming in from the rain. I maintain to this day that I absolutely hate rain and would much rather snow.

I had another umbrella crisis back in November. It was raining, I walk everywhere, and I knew that this being France, it will probably rain some more. In France, there are these stores called maroquineries. These shops sell purses, luggage, gloves, cute scarves, sometimes hats, and umbrellas. And since the one in Ussel is across the square from the laundromat, I used my forty minutes of wash to scope out the scene. I told the maroquiniere lady that I'm a simple girl and I don't want something flashy, anything with a print, and that it needs to be sturdy. We tried nearly a dozen out, discussing the merits and downfalls of each. I finally decided on a slate grey one that opened with one button. My jaw dropped when she rang it up: 69€. Oh my goodness!! I had definitely not expected to pay that much for an umbrella! But since she had spent so long with me talking about it and we were at the register, I felt obligated. She is the only luggage store in town, after all...

I didn't open the thing for months. I toyed with the idea of returning it, but was unconvinced of the possibility of that happening in France. (I now know it's ok.) For months, that little blue plastic bag represented all of my poor umbrella purchases.

In fact, I was so ashamed, scared, angry or whatever to use it that I didn't bring it with me on vacation! How silly of me. South France and Paris in February?! Girl, please. It rains in France. What were you thinking? So I bought a reasonable umbrella for 10€. I was pleased with it because it was black with pastel spots. However, it was very flimsy. I was disappointed.

This winter was very dry. Very little rain, virtually no snow. Once March rolled around though - here comes the rain! I finally gave in and broke out the 69€ umbrella. And what do you know, but it is really worth all sixty-nine inflated Euros? I bring that thing with me everywhere. It has become my trusty umbrella, and I am sincerely looking forward to bringing it back to New York where it will stay safe and unused in my car's glove compartment.

I am very happy to finally have made a significant purchase that has turned out for the best. I very much so like my umbrella.

I still absolutely hate hate hate the rain.

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