I don’t have an umbrella. I used to have one, a really nice one. But over time it must have worn out because one day, the button to open it stopped working. Then on another it turned inside out in the wind and came detached from the metal skeleton giving it its shape. I have not been able to find another one that I like. I do not want to get a long umbrella, even though those kind provide a great deal of coverage. But lugging one around…Ugh! I want a pocket umbrella, the kind that folds up nicely. Only I could not find one that wasn’t just boring black or navy blue. I have kept looking; not actively looking, but noticing whenever I’ve seen umbrellas for sale. I haven’t found one I like and don’t have one. Here it is January in one of the wettest years I can remember, and I’ve slugged it out in a hat, keeping my collar up and often wearing a scarf and a hoodie.
Then yesterday, I was reading Willamette Week, a weekly paper here in Portland, and saw an article about Portlanders who refuse to use umbrellas. The author postulates that us non-umbrella Portlanders carry no umbrella out of some anti-umbrella solidarity and animosity towards this wet protection device. We are from Oregon! We do not need an umbrella! We will wear our hoodies as a testament to our city! He then encourages us to give up this foolish non-umbrella obsession and go get one, for Christ’s sake. We are even provided with a list of local retailers selling umbrellas for reasonable prices. How convenient and thoughtful!
I am here to tell the author of that article that he misses the point on the lack of umbrellas in Oregon. It isn’t that we take some bizarre pride in going it wet. Not at all! We just live in a grey, dismal, rainy place. It is grey here like 10 months out of the year. We don’t want to go hiking through the grey carrying a boring black or navy umbrella. We want color! But we don’t want to have to carry around some three and a half foot long sword to get it. I mean, I know fencing is popular here, but we don’t go around screeching “En Garde!” and poking our neighbors. Instead of exhorting Portlanders to stop their maniacal unwillingness to use umbrellas, he should be urging umbrella manufacturers to make prettier umbrellas! And of course, they have to be affordable. I saw this fantastic colorful orange and yellow pocket umbrella in NW Portland. Sixty dollars. Sixty dollars! Are they f-ing kidding me? I may as well carry around sixty dollars and toss it on the ground because umbrellas get lost. It’s a fact. I’m not paying sixty dollars for an umbrella, no matter how cute it is.
So since the author missed his chance in his article to tell the umbrella manufacturers to make affordable color umbrellas, let me take this opportunity. Please. I promise Portlanders will use umbrellas if you follow these three simple guidelines: Affordable, folds to go in a purse or pocket, and COLORFUL!! This last is the most important.