Migratory Patterns of the American Umbrella
by Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Back in March, we threw a big party and invited all
our various circles of friends. As often occurs in large gatherings
of people, items were left behind. For the past two months, we've
carried a bag of these orphans around in the trunk everywhere we
went. As of last weekend, all items had been returned to their original
owners other than a tupperware bowl (identified, but whose owner
we haven't seen since March) and an umbrella. Since no one has claimed
it in two months, I speculated to my spouse that it was probably
now ours by virtue of squatter's rights. His response: "Do you have
any idea how many umbrellas I currently have in my possession?"
Well no, but judging from that reply, probably quite a few.
Which got me thinking: are umbrellas really the glue
that holds our society together? I don't remember ever having purchased
an umbrella. I'm currently in possession of two myself (turns out
spouse has four, not including our new acquisition). I've never
intentionally lifted someone's umbrella. How did they get here?
Do they multiply when placed in proximity to each other, like in
a hatrack or under a car seat? Do they have migratory patterns like
This got me onto a whole six degrees of separation
track. Could my umbrellas originally have been purchased by someone
famous (or infamous)? And how would I know? Where do all the umbrellas
that go wandering end up? Are they all in Kevin
Bacon's coat closet? Could they be tagged and studied like endangered
species? (Of course, no one thinks that umbrellas are endangered,
but you know what I mean.) Could they actually be duplicating the
movements of subatomic particles? In an alienating age, could umbrellas
serve to bring us together? Picture it - a whole community of umbrellas
circling the globe bearing if not good will towards humans then
at least protection from the elements.
So I've decided to track one of my umbrellas. It's
been tagged with my email address, so it's ready to be released
into the wild, likely in one of my favorite bookstores. If it comes
into your life, don't send it back - just drop me a line to let
me know where it is and how it's doing. Bet it has a more interesting
summer than I do.
b i o :
Elizabeth Weaver Engel,
besides being a budding writer, is a stealth geek, a manager (but
NOT the Pointy-Haired Boss) at a non-profit association, a distance
runner, a "rabid" Lindy Hopper, and a connoisseur of fine B-grade
Currently a resident
of Washington, DC, Elizabeth grew up outside of Philadelphia and
holds a Master's degree in political theory from the University
of Virginia. She fell into working with computers by accident
and has since been struggling to pull herself out. Writing for
Mindjack is one of the steps she's taking to do so.