That was the word for it. I tried out other synonyms. “Pouring”. “Pounding”. “Sneaking”.
The early weather report had called for occasional thunderstorms and brief moments of rain. I was prepared.
The day before, I had carried my collapsible umbrella onto the subway train. After getting off at my stop, my ADHD brain said “wait. Something’s wrong.” And it wasn’t until the doors closed that I realized I’d left my umbrella on the car. I watched helplessly as the train picked up speed and nonchalantly took off. No doubt it would provide someone else some protection. Not me though.
The next day I watched the weather report, and in particular took note of the word “chance”. “Chance” as in: if you bring your umbrella you’re going to be the only person holding one, as everyone else around you – all wearing sunglasses and tans – will smile at you with patronizing derision.
Still, I had a bit of walking to do, so I hunted down my spare umbrella – the huge clunky one – to carry with me for the day.
When I got out of the massage therapist’s office, I noticed it was …..teeming outside. “Good” I thought. Unlike some of those bedraggled sun-tanned miscreants standing in the doorway, waiting for it to settle, I had my giant black Marry Poppins umbrella, all deployed and ready to go.
I stepped out, secure in my dryness, and walked across the street to the bus stop.
Midway through the intersection the rain stopped teeming and began to roar with abandon. At one point, the only part of me left dry was my face. Barely. The rain had sneaked under the umbrella – by virtue of the gunshot pounding at the ground, which could only ricochet up and at my clothing – and soaked me thoroughly. A girl and I took what shelter we could find in the overhang outside of a dentist’s office.
“Nice weather, huh?” she said, smiling.
“What?” I replied.
“I SAID—never mind” she frowned.
I could barely make out anything she said over the storm’s argument.
“Funny how….FUNNY HOW WE HAVE TO STAND HERE WITH OUR UMBRELLAS AND STILL CAN’T KEEP DRY” she offered.
“What? Oh… Yeah” I rejoined. I must have intimidated her with my magnificent social skills and verbiage, as she gave up saying anything after that.
I tried though. “So”, I started. “SO. JUST HEADING HOME FROM WORK?” I asked.
The bus came. We could see the poor travelling souls, standing in the bus aisles, bum to rump and wet clothing all sticking to each other.
She got on. I said “I’ll wait for the next one”. I could see it in the distance.
After it arrived, I found an empty seat and sat down, grateful and wet. The novel I was reading was just getting interesting when the driver announced “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN – THIS BUS IS OUT OF SERVICE AT LAWRENCE”.
“Are you freaking kidding me?” It wasn’t until the short older lady with the moustache and hairnet sitting in front of me turned around and glanced my way with a startled expression that I realized I had said it aloud.
We all bundled out of the bus, and stood in the rain with our shielding umbrellas until the next one arrived. It was already fairly packed with people, so we had to force our way onto it, bum to rump, all wet and miserable.
Then we noticed something else. The power was out everywhere. This meant there were no stoplights. And this meant that the rate of travel in amongst the rat-like horde of cars went from slow to “oh my God it’s like we’re going backward”. Some Hasidic Jewish kids, all dressed in black took it upon themselves to direct traffic at one intersection. They had no umbrellas and looked like they were having a blast. I smiled, kind of wishing I was a teen again.
The thought of the romance of rain blossomed. I recalled that first romantic kiss I took with a girl when we were in our teens. It happened under her see-through umbrella on a dark rainy night. I remembered the lemony scent of her perfume and the intense, surreal joy of holding her closely, and sharing breath for a while.
Though we all made it to our destinations (after passing drowned cars – so many drowned cars – along the way), I couldn’t help thinking. One important pass-fail aspect of any future romantic relationships will be my partner’s tolerance or acceptance of rain-enhanced public displays of affection.
But by that I mean “light rain” not “sneaky, pounding, pouring teeming ricocheting rain”. That crap’s just gross.