Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Yay! I Can Write Again!

For over a month, I have not been able to bring up a typing window here.  I'm glad it's back...I actually had to write a Note on Facebook to get something out.  Here it is.  Pretty sure I have told you about this before, but for some reason I was thinking about it this Christmas:

The Christmas Umbrella

25 December 2013 at 14:50
My parents were somewhat minimalist when it came to gifts.  Years of poverty will do that to people.  Even when recovering, money went into the feast and the decorations before it went into presents.  They never did grasp the idea that Christmas was supposed to be the time to fulfil all the greedy wishes of their only child.

The year I was a senior in high school, I was prepared.  The main idea was to think of something I wanted that was not too expensive.  While shopping for prezzies for Mum and Dad, I saw The Umbrella.

Perhaps I should explain about umbrellas in that time and place.  In the Pacific Northwest, it rains.  A lot.  In fact, the area is known as a Temperate Rain Forest.  In such a climate, an umbrella is a carefully-chosen accessory.  It has to go with all your outerwear, be it raincoat, overcoat, blazer or jacket.  We chose them the same way most of us choose our cellphone cases or handbags.

The Umbrella was beautiful.  It was dark green, with pearly-grey narrow woven stripes around the outer edge.  The handle was golden marbled plastic that resembled butterscotch amber.  It was understated and elegant, and would go with my coats...especially the unpleasant kakhi fly-front London Fog raincoat that Mom had insisted I buy.  That ugly thing needed all the help it could get, and I knew that The Umbrella would do the trick.

So...when Mom asked what I wanted for Christmas, I described The Umbrella in great detail, and even went with her to the shop (Eaton's) where it was and pointed it out.  It was a bit pricey for an umbrella, but well within reason for a major Christmas present...maybe $12 to $15.  As it was all I was asking for, I thought it was possible.

Under the Christmas tree, there was a long, narrow package that weighed approximately what The Umbrella should weigh, so I had high hopes all the way to Christmas morning.  I saved it for the last, as nothing else really mattered.  I held my breath as I opened it--very carefully, as we never tore anything that might be reused.  I let that breath out with a sigh of dismay.  There was an umbrella in the box, but it was not The Umbrella.

It was yellow.  Bright, day-glow yellow, with a clear plastic handle.  

In 1965, this was not a fashionable colour.  With my ash-blonde hair and grey eyes, it was not my colour.  I am not at all sure it was anyone's colour, now that I think about it.  Of course, I had to make nice ("Lovely lovely lovely socks"), because that's what we did in our family.  There was no complaining that a gift was not what we wanted, and there was no exchanging it, either.  Mom was beaming because this umbrella was on sale for half the price of The Umbrella, and, in her eyes, the look of the thing didn't matter; it was all about how well it kept off the rain.

So, instead of being the proud owner of the most beautiful umbrella in the known world, I was the humble carrier of yet more bully fodder.

That is not quite the end of the story.

I tried and tried to "lose" that umbrella, both that year and the next, when I took it to college.  I left in restaurants, in libraries, in the Student Union at Simon Fraser University...and, every time, someone would come running after me with it.  "Uh, miss?  You left your umbrella!"  The bloody thing was so bright that everyone noticed it.

I finally lost it after leaving it on a bus in Vancouver and having a nice man run after me ("Uh, miss..") and hand it to me through the closing door as I stepped down to the sidewalk.  Something snapped, and I crammed and crammed it into the trash can that stood right next to the bus stop.

The look on his face was priceless.

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