Tuesday, October 28, 2008

strange how it rains here

New York sucks in the rain.

And I love the rain. No matter where you grow up there ought to be a soft spot in your heart for a good rainy day. You put on your rubbers and a raincoat and splash around in the deluge until you retire to the safety of the great indoors for cocoa and Law & Order. Or you can lay limply in your bed—or on your couch—and stare at the wetness of the world. Rainy days are a great boon to the depressed. On no other day can you be so self-indulgently sad and still get away with it. You can loll, you can languish, you can make lasagne and eat it straight out of the pan.

In New York City, rain ruins your whole week. The subways are damp and delayed, cabs are impossible to land, and walking is downright perilous. To get anywhere on foot, you usually have to cross a street or two, but the way our intersections are crafted, the crosswalks become little lakes you have to ford, but cannot do so without soaking yourself to the shins.

If you carry an umbrella, you are an asshole. Sorry, but you are. I've been swiped at and stabbed in the head by your umbrella and it really hurt. It ruined my day even worse. I had to stop carrying an umbrella of my own just so I wouldn't decide to beat you with it.

People with umbrellas are bullies. In the miniature game of chicken any two pedestrians play on any given NYC sidewalk, the one with the umbrella will always assume the right of way. And they will make no effort to raise it to avoid whacking you. They will actually run you into the gutter to get past, with little to no consideration for the fact that you're already way more miserable than they are and you look like a drowned cat.

Rainy days in New York are also a vehicle for predatory opportunists vending rain gear. These crooks come out of the sewers as if on call and start shouting at passersby that they have UMBRELLAS FIVE DOLLARS or—if you're on 5th Avenue or near a museum—UMBRELLAS FIFTEEN DOLLARS. They also have ponchos, which must be their scheme to make tourists stand out even more than they normally do: that way their portrait-painting, pedi-cabbing, useless-crap-peddling brethren know who to target. Of course, these umbrellas are useless. They break within minutes and blow out backwards, but they sell. They sell because those jerks stand there and laugh at you as you pass, holding your purse over your head for dear life.

By the end of the day, the city is a graveyard, the ravaged carcasses of cheapie black umbrellas everywhere, trampled and forgotten.

Also, chivalry is dead.