Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rain Spotting: A Field Guide to New Yorkers on a Rainy Day

So it was raining in New York today, and of course, that brings the pointy-head brigade out in full force, even more so than usual, if you can actually imagine such a thing. Every time it rains in New York, you get to see all different varieties of human silliness on full display, and I’ve taken the trouble to break them down for you, so the next time you’re in NYC you can have fun spotting and avoiding them all. It’s sort of like bird-watching, but with less attractive plumage. Here is a short breakdown of the different species you will encounter on the average rainy day in New York:

1) Vlad, the Impaler: Whenever the droplets begin to fall, this single-minded creature of the night tends to run at you full force when the pointy-end of his umbrella angled right at you for maximum injury. It’s almost like Vlad just came from a rousing exhibition at Medieval Times, and now he wants to do a little jousting of his own with any and all hapless passerby. His blood thirst is insatiable, so don’t get in his way; you could be the next unwitting victim of his endless reign of carnage.

2) Mr. Super-Size-Me Umbrella: This commonly sighted fellow likes to run around town with an umbrella twice as tall as he is, and wide enough to keep a couple thousand Mogwai from getting even remotely damp. His umbrella is so big that you have to wonder if it got pelted with a b-movie dose of radiation at some point. Watch out for this breed, for he is usually quite oblivious to his surroundings and will plow down all would-be challengers to his presumed umbrell-ic awesomeness.

3) Sponge Bob Dumb-Ass
: An umbrella-less species, this is the guy who struts around like he’s impervious to H20 and it’s not even raining out. This is true even when there are monsoon-like winds buffeting his frame and the rain is turning hot dog carts into makeshift gondolas floating down Third Avenue. This guy doesn’t want you to know he’s affected by the rain, SEE? So, in addition to walking around umbrella-less, he often wears nothing more than jeans and a t-shirt. Yes, this aqua-male has a clear message for us all: it’s US who are the sissies, running around trying to avoid hypothermia like a bunch of little girls! Either that, or he’s just an ego-maniac who’d never dare admit he left his umbrella at home.

4) Marathon Man: It’s bad enough the rest of us have to be out in the rain trudging to our jobs; this cretin is just out “for a jog” in the middle of a rainstorm of Biblical proportions. No one knows for sure if this fool works for a living, but you’ll usually spot him (or her) dashing across the windswept streets decked out in the obligatory silver and red spandex uniform. Marathon Man is always plugged into an iPod as well, just to remove any remote chance he might actually hear the bus bearing down on him at 50 MPH. Some people believe this is a built-in genetic disposition to keep Marathon Man’s population numbers down, while others believe it’s a learned behavioral trait scientists like to call “being a self-absorbed tool.”

5) Lot’s Wife: She’s completely made of salt, so she whips out the umbrella while the rest of us are still trying to figure out if that even WAS rain we felt on our left arm for half a millisecond, or just a very nimble sex offender. Lot’s Wife is also well-known for her persistent habit of leaving her umbrella up while passing through extremely dry stretches of sidewalk covered by awnings and scaffolds. As a result, she is constantly jeopardizing innocent passerby with the threat of impromptu, un-anesthetized head removal surgery. She also likes to keep her umbrella open while moving through revolving doors and hotel lobbies, even though no rain has ever been known to fall inside a well-constructed hotel lobby in the history of recorded man. Not outside a Stephen King story, anyway.

6) Mr. Never-Say-Dry: He absolutely REFUSES to get a new umbrella, even though his umbrella is falling apart with dangerous phantasm-ball-like projectiles sticking out at every possible angle. In fact, his umbrella hardly even looks like an umbrella anymore, but more like Spider-Man’s nemesis Venom in mid-transformation after getting blasted with sonic waves. Still, he bravely soldiers on, futilely propping a pathetic wad of torn fabric and dangerous metal spikes high above his head. Ironically, he always ends up getting soaked three times worse than those with no umbrella at all. See also: Mr. Floppy Umbrella.

7) Benny on Broadway: A close relative of Mr. Super-Size-Me Umbrella, in the same way a dope is a close relative of a dolt. This is the guy (or gal) who couldn’t scare up a semi-normal umbrella, so he ransacked his summer supplies for a beach umbrella. You half expect this clown to be walking around with a dollop of sunscreen on his nose and a picnic basket under one arm. Large, dichromatic colors (usually white combined with red, blue or black) are the tell-tale sign of this exotic breed, as well as a care-free, lumbering gait more suited to staking out a sunny spot on the beach than navigating a crowded, rain-drenched avenue.

8) The Free Spirit: She looks like she should be plastered on the side of a package of Morton’s Salt rather than walking a city street, this term applies to any of the giddy young females you see whisking around in neon-pink and bright yellow raincoats and protecting themselves with nothing but frail, petite umbrellas. Likewise, these umbrellas are usually adorned with some kind of artsy-fartsy pattern like ladybugs, leopard spots, Betty Boop’s, Van Gogh’s self-portrait, or Andy Warhol cows. While these fun-loving, impish sprites can sometimes bring a smile to one’s world-weary face, they can also make you wish the city would just grind them down and pulverize their souls into dust already.

And that’s it for this week, kiddies! Stay dry!

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