October 5, 2010

Let’s Talk About Umbrellas

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Okay Cornell, it has reached that time of the year when we need to have this talk. So sit down, grab a mug of hot apple cider and turn on some Bach, because it’s about to get real.

In case you are new here, or just haven’t noticed, now that it is fall, it rains a lot. And I mean a lot. If the rivers of water at your feet that cause you to have a whole new appreciation for the word “damp” are not indication enough, the constantly overcast sky and the soggy homework that you’ve been handing in lately will get my point across. If this is not your ideal weather choice, congratulations — you chose Cornell so just suck it up and deal with it.

But enough beating around the bush, let’s get down to business. Umbrellas … ah yes umbrellas, the things the upperclassmen have learned to carry with them even on the 90-degree-not-a-cloud-in-the-sky days. Umbrellas are great. They keep you dry. They keep your backpack dry. Umbrellas can even let a little personality show through on those grey, cloudy days.

Love Cornell, or just didn’t realize how much it rained in Ithaca until you got here? You probably have a red and white, direct-from-the-Cornell-Store, umbrella.

Don’t want to let the weather to get you down? You’re the type that carries a bright, colorful umbrella.

Trying to look sleek, or just have absolutely no personality? Black umbrellas all around!

Got the “I’m a poor grad student” blues? Your umbrella has been turned inside out probably 17 times too many and you still can’t let the poor sucker go. Got to eat right?

Need both hands to BBM? Two words, umbrella hat.

As for me, my umbrella is black. But that’s because if I ever used a colored umbrella while wearing my lime green raincoat, I would look ridiculous. Some people think that a lime green raincoat is too much color for one man to handle; these people haven’t seen my closet. Besides, green brings out my eyes.

There is, however, another type of umbrella that has not been discussed. Obnoxiously large, disgustingly wide … the golf umbrella. All of us small umbrella carriers know what I’m talking about. There we are on our way to our 12:20 class when, surprise, downpour. Everybody whips out umbrellas and continues walking. If only it were so easy … but no, barreling down on us like a locomotive is one tiny little girl under her enormous golf umbrella (profiling I know. All genders and sizes are equally guilty). We try to get out of her way, but resistance is futile, the golf umbrella takes up three quarters of the sidewalk. So what option do we have? With people pushing from behind, we plow forward and get soaked as the golf umbrella hits our average umbrella, tipping it upward and dumping water on our previously dry head.

Why are these grossly large golf umbrellas necessary? Short answer, they are not. There is no reason or need for a person to remain that dry. A little rain shower never killed anyone. Exception: Wicked Witch of the West and snowmen. If you really wish to remain that dry, I recommend a good quality rain jacket. If that isn’t enough for you, invest in some rain pants and you are all set, albeit pretty damn ridiculous looking.

I thought instead of complaining I should try to convince you why it is a good idea to leave the golf umbrellas at the links and invest in a smaller, more compact, average person umbrella. So here it goes.

First, have you tried carrying a golf umbrella around in you backpack? That’s right you haven’t, because it doesn’t fit.  My great, compact, black umbrella fits nicely in my front backpack pocket and is there for the surprise afternoon deluge. Second, you won’t piss off your fellow, normal-sized umbrella-carrying Cornellians (like me). Third, if you make the switch, you pants will get damp walking between classes, the cool rainwater against your skin will keep you focused in the dim warmth of your lecture, boosting your grades. And finally, guys, that cute girl standing out in the rain will be forced to walk much closer to you if she accepts the offered shelter of your average umbrella. Will a golf umbrella give you that kind of intimacy with a really hot stranger? I think not.

I will leave you with one last thought, if a golf umbrella carrier leaves Malott at 1:12 p.m. heading west at 6.4 mph, and a second golf umbrella carrier leaves Goldwin Smith heading east at 4.7 mph, at what point will the entire sidewalk be blocked?

William Spencer is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He may be contacted at wts33@cornell.edu. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.

Original Author: William Spencer