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January 15th, 2014 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Stumped on Bumbershoots

Do Portlanders really eschew umbrellas?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

There is the notion here that real Portlanders do not use umbrellas. Really? We’re stupid enough or silly enough to get drenched in a downpour?

—Kevin S.

What is a “real Portlander,” anyway? I thought all the real Portlanders moved away in 1995 to escape the Californians. (Luckily, they left behind plenty of lumberjack clothes to keep the hipsters warm on their collective daily trek from the Prius to the Stumptown counter.)

More saliently—what downpour? Not to go all old-man on you (he said, lying), but in my Illinois youth we had real rain. I’m pretty sure I walked 20 miles to school each day through chest-deep flash floods, naked, with rabid crayfish dangling by their claws from my nut sack. (And I was glad!)

That’s the kind of rain you need an umbrella for. In Portland, we don’t use umbrellas because…it doesn’t rain that much here.

Now, now; put away those pitchforks. Sure, it rains often, and it rains for a long time. It just doesn’t rain that much. Portland isn’t even in the top 15 major U.S. cities in annual rainfall.

We are No. 1 in rainy (as distinct from snowy) days, with around 165 per year—we even beat Seattle! But due to the fact that our precipitation is not so much rain as an extremely dickish form of fog, you never get the kind of wring-out-your-briefs wet that makes you shake your tiny fist at the sky and vow, “Never again.”

Add to that the fact that if you did carry an umbrella, you’d have to carry it all the time, and you can see why for most Portlanders it hardly seems worth the trouble.

All of this does nothing to mitigate the soul-crushing, Kafkaesque oppressiveness of five straight months without sun, of course, but an umbrella won’t help with that. Might I recommend a flask?


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