Friday, May 24, 2013

The Strange Case of the Missing Umbrellas

We've lived in Portlandia just a little over three months. It feels like an eternity. I drive--a lot. Back and forth and back and forth, and even though I spend a great portion of my mornings and afternoons in the car, I really kind of enjoy it. I like to people watch--even if it's while traveling at a whopping 20 mph as I make my way down the road in all this traffic.

One thing baffles me completely about this place: No one in Portland uses an umbrella.
It's not uncommon to see several people walking about in the rain with no coat, hood, or parasol to shield themselves against the elements. I think this has something to do with the fact that most Portlanders are just such bad-asses. It's like they want to prove to the world how cool they are. Except they're so cool they don't need to prove it to the human race, they're proving it to Mother Nature, and we ALL know that the only person who's ever proved anything to her was Chuck Norris. But these Portlanders just keep trying. They can't help it. The cool factor of a native Portlander is so high that they actually LEAP from the womb with a pair of Doc Martens already on their feet--and incidentally, with no umbrella, even though amneotic fluid has been proven, without a doubt, to be very wet.

On the other hand, I live in the suburbs. My neighborhood is rife with Middle aged somethings sporting the EXACT same rain coat from R.E.I. We hold discreet black micro umbrellas that can be stashed away quickly should that coven of hipsters that live on Hawthorne suddenly find itself wandering a little too south and we would be mocked for our middle aged-ness. Nevermind the fact that we middle agers think that hipsters look like 3rd graders dressed up in their parents clothes, we still don't want them to make fun of our obvious lack of cool. By the way hipsters, what's with the sudden interest in sporting eye wear reminiscent of Sally Jesse Raphael anyway?

But now I'm just showing you my age. (Which,in case you didn't get it, is middle, thank you very much.)

I digress, back to the umbrella--or lack thereof--as it may be. One of the first things I was told by a friend of mine when we first moved here was that, "No one in Portland carries an umbrella."

I've pondered the umbrella dilemma for a few months now and I've come up with a few possible reasons why they've gone missing.

Portlanders might:

A) feel that they need to prove they are as hip as they think they are. To be honest, they really are cool. Every person I've met so far has been like one of the mysterious chi-chi kids from high school--the kind that you just can't approach, let alone hang out with. To be fair, I don't really know that many people, so I'm really just talking about the handyman at our apartment--oh, and that lady who says "hi" to me every day after school. She's so cool I'm surprised each time I see her that she's not dancing in a pair of M.C Hammer pants humming "Can't Touch This."

(Now you're humming "Can't Touch This." )
You're welcome.

Or perhaps Portlanders are...

B) the unwilling victims of a secret international umbrella shortage

C) really lazy

D) a race of people akin to Kevin Costner's character in Water World. I can't see any one's webbed toes because of all the Doc Marten covered feet here, but I've been looking for gills and haven't spotted any yet.

I know I'm mocked every time I break out my GINORMOUS rainbow umbrella that can comfortably accommodate our Amazonian family of four. But I don't care.

Did you hear me, Portland???!!

I DON'T CARE.

I'm too middle age-ed to shun my trusty umbrella. I'm also too middle age-ed to write the word "aged" I had to write it with the extra syllable just to PROVE to you just how middle age-ed and stodgy I am.

There were good men and women who lost their lives in the pursuit of finding solutions to protect us from the elements. (Ever heard of the great umbrella collapse of 1622? I thought not. There wasn't a single survivor to tell that tale of woe.) I will not let their sacrifice be in vain. I will use my umbrella, protect my frizzy hair, mom uniform and Doc Martens (c'mon, I'm not that old) from the rain every chance I get. Which apparently, is a lot, because today, I actually thought I might drown.

Simply put: People of Portland, you are cra-zay. Pull out your umbrellas, or if you can't find yours, you are welcome to come under mine...unless you're a hipster, then, move along, friend.
Nothing to be mocked here...move along.

What cultural phenomena do you experience where you live?





 
 

32 comments:

  1. And that is EXACTLY how it is there. Excellent description Lisa!

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    1. I thought you'd appreciate this one...;)

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  2. LOL! this was funny. The cultural phenomenon here is camo. EVERYONE, all ages, from infants to seniors, male and female sports camouflage print on some article of clothing. Skirts, shorts, shirts, pants--there seems to be no limit to the ingenuity of clothing designers with camo fabric.

    Ornery and I have resisted this cultural horror just as we have rebelled against societal norms in other ways. Really? Who ever thought that was cool? :P
    tm

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    1. Can you imagine combining the camo and the umbrella. WHOA. ;)

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  3. Awesome! Did you miss D) on purpose? Yep, I notice stupid shit like that. It's what they pay me for...no, wait...
    I can't really think of a cultural phenomena that I experience, but I do have an umbrella story for you (love that yours is rainbow, btw). My best girlfriend and I went on vacation to NYC. One day, it rained. I have never seen so many broken umbrellas filling up trash cans, laying in gutters, strewn on sidewalks. They were all black. It was surreal like something out of murder mystery where the victims' bodies disappear and all that is left is their disheveled umbrella.

    Brandy's Bustlings

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    1. Haha!! I had another D, then forgot to change it--it was late. I fixd it now. lol!!!

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  4. In Colorado: wearing a winter jacket/parka while wearing shorts down below. Yes, I've done it.

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    1. Mary, that IS SO Colorado---my husband is from there!! (He's done it too...)

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  5. You just made me laugh out loud! I live in Oregon and have also noticed the lack of umbrellas. My favorite is the guy who wears shorts and sandals in the rain.

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    1. Also, I am still humming "Can't Touch This."

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  6. Haha! Resist and hold your umbrella high!

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  7. Maybe you can encourage those hipsters to wear umbrella hats. That way they can stay dry while still pretending to be too cool to hold an umbrella.

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    1. That's my move! Most definitely!! I can see them all cringing at me already....;) ha!!

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  8. I think it's because we get so freaking tired of dressing for rain every day. It's kind of like a sign of defeat. After so many years of rain, rain, rain 9 months out of the year we just say, "Fine, Portland. I'm going to get wet no matter what with your bipolar spring time, so just take me!! Do your worst!" At least that's how I felt this week. Especially after all the sunshine we had a week or two ago. Ot sometimes I just decide it's time for good weather and I dress for it, regardless of what Portland says about it.

    I did finally invest in a rain coat this year after my boss repeatedly made fun of me for not having one, and have a small collapsable black umbrella with white pokadots and a red ruffle that fits in my purse, so apparently we can learn ; )

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    1. Lindsay, I laughed right out loud at your comments!! You are just joy! Bipolar springtime for sure--here's to us all, umbrella-ed or not, and to not drowning. :)

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  9. I am going to be very interested to note the day when Portlanders go from being "them" to "us." I know it will come, but when will that be? I am glad you are enjoying your city of transplant... I suppose, even if your traffic time far exceeds what it was in WW!

    And it has to be noted that you, my dear, are entirely hip. Or is it cool? Either way, you're fab. :) Even if you do use an umbrella!

    xo

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    1. Hahaha! Hip or cool, I'm mostly just middle age-ed. ;) I have no idea when it will become "us"...someday soon, I hope. :) xoxox

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  10. There's no point using an umbrella in my part of England, it's far too windy. Hoods are the order of the day here, and even then, they don't always work because of the wind. Have I mentioned how windy we have it :-)

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    1. Whoooooooowhewwwwwww!! (That's the wind blowing...) :)

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  11. Wow! You have a lot to say about umbrellas! I can see it's been really bothering you. LOL.

    All I can say, for us in PA -- who knows how to dress this spring?! It's been crazy! Winter, Summer, Winter, Summer. This week it was...who knows what it was! 40 degrees and windy as all get out! I was bundled up two days ago mulching the yard, dodging raindrops and trying not to blow away. I think Pooh would say it was a "blustery day". ;0)

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    1. You're weather has tourettes!! lol!!

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  12. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for years, I think the issue is that Portlandians are simply TIRED of constantly pulling out their umbrellas to shield them from the ever-present rain. There is simply no escape. They've given up. They've decided it's just easier to get wet and go along with Oregon's motto, "Smile at the rain!" Acceptance is clearly the way to go for many! But be encouraged; my brother-in-law reminded me that from the day of the Rose Festival (early June) on, the weather is GLORIOUS!

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    1. It started this weekend so I'm hopeful!!! :) xoxo

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  13. I remember thinking this when I moved to the PNW 4 years ago. I carried one dutifully in my van for the first year but then I just...gave up. I am lazy. And it is annoying to carry into the house a dripping umbrella. My solution was to invest in lots of hoodies and get as quick as possible to my destination (car, store or house). I also bought a waterproof coat after I moved here and it sucks!!! What's the point of waterproof when you are drenched in sweat? A weather resistant hoodie is perfect for particularly wet days. I am surprised you didn't mention your awesome teenage mutant ninja turtle umbrella.

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    1. Shhhh! My teenage mutant ninja turtle umbrella is my secret weapon!! ;) hahahha!!

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  14. I live a little north of Seattle, and it's the same phenomenon up here: only tourists use umbrellas. Even if we did want to use umbrellas (which we don't, because as you pointed out, we're badasses), it's usually too windy to use one - I've seen many an umbrella turned inside out, or else people have them at angles that make it impossible to see where they're going, and I've even witnessed people being dragged along by their umbrellas.

    Also, we're so used to the rain, we don't really notice it anymore, anyway :)

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  15. I rarely ever use an umbrella but I try not to go out when it rains. Not just because nobody likes to drive in rainy weather, but because its impossible to tear me away from a radar of some sort (laptop, TV, phone...) when it might storm. I even had my phone out at work when it stormed recently. I blame the storm phobia.

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  16. lol, great post, although I totally hate umbrellas and don't use one unless it's a real downpour.

    Be careful what you wish for though, everybody in Shanghai uses umbrellas and so on a rainy day you really need protective eyewear because all those umbrellas and their little pointy spokes can get dangerous.

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  17. Yikes, I'm a big loser. I just now finally got over here and read this post. And BOY, do I have some things to say!

    I'm one of those born-and-bred Oregonians. Most of us west-of-the-Cascaders have adapted to our environment by growing webbed feet or beaver tails (depending on the university attended--neither of which *I* attended, BTW, so I leave the question of what MY body has grown a mysterious mystery--you better get out that fedora to figger it out, girl!). It's true about the umbrellas. It's not because we're cool or hip or bad-ass; it's because we're lazy. I mean, it'd be EVERY DAY with those fragile contraptions.

    The only time I hate people who use umbrellas, though, is when they're using the golf ones on a narrow sidewalk. I cannot tell you how many eyes I have lost to those things.

    As for the Hammer pants, well, please gouge out my eyes with your rainbow 'brella if you ever see me in them. It would be a sure sign of my decline into the abyss of delusion. But thanks for suggesting it's a sign of coolness!

    When're we getting together again? We gotta! :) xoxo

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