5 Strange Ways to Manage an Umbrella

Don’t be that asshole!


Gene Kelly set an ambitious precedent for metropolitan umbrella holders in Singin’ in the Rain when he forfeited his umbrella mid-downpour to tap dance his way down a suspiciously well-lit sidewalk under the impermeable shield of Debbie Reynolds’ affection. But navigating an actual rainstorm in a busy city more closely resembles the stampede in The Lion King. It’s a ruthless game of survival that doesn’t excuse debonair individuals with a song in their heart and a skip in their step, and one must master an infallible method of umbrella management in order to prevail.

While there are certainly tactical methods of umbrella avoidance like The Newspaper Head Tent (the DIY version of the actual Umbrella Hat), your grandmother and I would prefer that you at least try to use an umbrella. I’ve made this easier by identifying the five most common umbrella tricks and ranked them from most to least effective for your convenience. Thank me later when you are a vibrant petunia among wet Cheetos with pending chest colds.

The Unspoken Group Canopy is a precipitation-prevention method that requires three or more people (friends or strangers) to stand in a horizontal line and walk at the same speed with the brims of their umbrellas touching. The middle person(s) in this formation usually benefit the most unless significantly shorter than their outer comrades, in which case, an unfavorable runoff effect takes place in the central valley.

The Tetris belongs to steadfast strategists who grew up on video games like Super Mario and Frogger. They move their umbrella up, down, diagonal or sideways to fit through spatial gaps created by the crowd of pedestrians immediately ahead. Every two feet of advancement is rewarded with an invisible floating golden coin.

People tend to use The Gutter Ball when the rain has inflated their crankiness rating to “Cousin of Eeyore.” To run this play, one excuses herself (often belligerently) from the sidewalk to walk in the narrow margin between the curb and the car lane. When morale is this low, the risk of walking through a puddle nine feet deep is worth it.

The Kite is a maneuver often executed by tall individuals equipped with large golf umbrellas in which they hoist their umbrella as high and far forward as they can in the hope that they will be airlifted like a kite in the wind. Wind speeds are never strong enough to achieve this desired effect, so the individual instead bulldozes his or her way through the crowd like a scorned tour guide because “THE TRAIN!!”

The Jack-in-the-Box is when someone opens an umbrella in the middle of a tight crowd and negates any premeditated effort. To Jack, I ask: Who hurt you? Who made you cry?

Do any of these sound familiar or do you fit under another umbrella? Ba-dum-chhh.

Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive via Getty Images.

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  • MacLee

    As a dutch reader was very surprised to see a photo of late queen Juliana. “ha fijn, regen!”

  • I work near Oxford Street in London and when it rains it is honestly a tactical operation to try and get through all of the umbrellas – thank you for this play book!

    – Natalie

  • Sheila T.

    The Battering Ram is when one must use their umbrella horizontally as a shield against both wind and rain, as well as in an effort not to break their last usable umbrella. This sometimes requires plunging headfirst into the crowd, leaving your fellow pedestrians in your wake. (this is me, always)

    • The Battering Ram!!

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  • B&B Bommel Zaltbommel

    Heee, there is our former Queen Juliana. Like many royals this umbralla is used during occasions of public apearances. They can see the people and the people can see them. She is hosting here the dutch football-team in her palace Soestdijk many years ago. Nice blog! Hgrt, JokevdB

  • martine roeterink

    Many dutch readers! My favourite queen Juliana, always looking marvelous. Ha fijn, regen!