How English Majors Read Umbrellas

The other day, I came across an interesting word: pluviophile, which basically means someone who not only enjoys the rain, but seems to also derive a sense of peace and serenity during rainy days. Anyone who knows me, or has heard of me knows that this term could easily follow a forward-slash behind my full name. I harvest great pleasure from the chill of chubby rain drops pelting me on my head and on the back of my neck; I swoon at the dull roar of millions of liquid needles spraying the ground; I consciously resist the primal urge to destroy every puddle I encounter – either on foot on in my car. Rainy days (or even wet socks, to be quite honest) remind me of some of the most important people and experiences of my childhood: grilled cheese and tomato soup with mom, splitting and stacking firewood with Joe and Ger, frog hunting with Reed and Gavin, and high school football games.

Then, I saw someone carrying this around during a rainy day on BYU campus . . .

As an English major, I’m not really allowed to look at text without being critical of it; as a self-diagnosed pluviophile (who has never owned an umbrella), I laughed maniacally at the sight, then had a brief Shawshank moment.

While I have a tendency to wonder why anyone would buy an umbrella in the first place, I think this particular umbrella would send a mixed message to even a normal person. After some well-spent minutes in contemplation on the matter, I concluded that one simple explanation was not enough, and even the plethora of explanations I came up is still full of flaws.

Nevertheless . . .

Using my year’s worth of undergrad English degree training, I will endeavor to unravel this person’s possible motivations for purchasing and using such a useless and ironic implement:

#1: She Loves Rain: The umbrella tells the world that its owner loves the rain. Who am I to question that? Is it possible for people who truly love the rain to have a reason to own an umbrella? Perhaps. Maybe she just got her hair done, perhaps a perm. And we all know what happens when perms meet water. That’s right, you murder your father accidentally. Or maybe, she (finger air-quotes) loves the rain, and is a nominal pluviophile – someone who admires the beauty of the rain, but not as big a fan of getting rained on. It would be like any regular person telling this guy that she loves wolves. Yeah, I’m sure you love watching them, and have respect for them as beautifully wild animals, but this guy loves wolves on an consummate and obviously obsessive level. To him, you just kinda like wolves (more accurately, to him, you are potential prey). This point actually transitions quite smoothly into my next theory.

#2: She’s Lying: Makes sense, right? I mean, sure, she’s outside while it’s raining, but she’s not outside because it’s raining; she’s outside in spite of the rain, holding that transparent half-bubble as a man who has been to hell and back might shake his fist at the heavens and say, “Ha! I am still alive! Do your worst! I welcome the challenge!” Perhaps her declaration is not quite so dramatic: “Hey, I can still wear this carefully selected outfit and not get wet!” or “I can eat this sandwich and not worry about soggy bread!” Understandable. Even pluviophiles do not like soggy bread. She does not heart the rain so much as she enjoys being dry despite the rain; the red heart serves only as a symbol of her defiance.

#3: She’s a Hipster: Hipsters love all things contrary, though any hipster reading this would disagree. Naturally, if she were a hipster, she would have bought the umbrella ironically from some online retailer that you’ve never heard of, and that only hipsters secretly and ironically shop at. Though, one could argue that if she were indeed a hipster, why she would choose an iconic textual format that is aligned with such a mainstream marketing ploy:

Pfff. Sell-out.

#4: The Umbrella Shop Was Sold Out of Other, Less Provocative Umbrellas: It’s possible. It’s possible that umbrella shops exist anymore. Heck, it’s possible that she wasn’t even aware that her umbrella carried such a confusing caption, but I don’t buy it. Anyone who makes the life decision to be an umbrella holder is fully aware of the choice he or she is making. They know that they take up twice the amount of space on a busy sidewalk, they feel the collective rolling of the eyes when they do that little umbrella shake upon entering a building or mode of public transportation. The non-British ones know they’re not British, so why pretend to be?

#5: She’s British: BYU does tout a fairly international student body, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this girl was indeed from Great Britain. Now, I will concede that the whole Brit+umbrella image is a bit of an antiquated stereotype. Obviously not all British people walk around in bowler caps brandishing their gamps (that’s English-English for umbrella). But let’s face it, those folks get all the advantages of living in Seattlesque weather, without any of the perks of Seattle’s delicious food, or in some people’s opinion, delicious food in general:

They need something to keep them from going insane. Might as well be an umbrella.

#6: I am Insane: Perhaps my most cogent argument.

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