‘The perversity of inanimate objects’.
I read this line once in an old novel and it has stayed with me for more than 20 years. I wonder what that says about the author’s literary expertise and my impressionable mind. (Perhaps we can all agree that 15-year-old me was a weird kid.) Anyhoo, when I saw the prompt, this line popped into my mind again, like a bad penny. It’s the perfect description isn’t it?
Thinking back over my life, I have a million stories of how perverse inanimate objects can be when they want to! Like when I walk out of my house to the car and my slipper breaks. Or when the phone hangs just as I’m trying to pick up an important call. I have countless tales of missing books that turn up after I’ve searched high and low and fairly given up on ever finding them, chairs that seem to mysteriously shift just before my posterior lands on them, invisible rocks that trip me up when I’m in a hurry, leaking taps, broken cups, pens without caps that obviously don’t write because, er, no cap! And these are just the tip of the iceberg. There are the keys that don’t turn in the locks, the lifts that don’t work just when you need to get to the 4th floor, the webcams that turn on at the wrong moment, the microphones that unmute themselves, and more along those lines. There’s something about Murphy’s Law; well I won’t go into it, but you know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
Anyway, the umbrella has got to be the classic one though. I remember this one time when I was hurrying down the road to my home, hoping to get out of the rain before it began to really pour. And as Murphy would have it, the skies opened and upturned bucket loads. Added to the torrential downpour was a blustery wind. So as I struggled to get my flimsy double folding umbrella open, a particularly strong gust caught it, turning it inside out.
Have you noticed that in those moments when inanimate objects decide to be particularly objectionable, the human race tends to lose its common sense? Well one doesn’t, cause one is busy belligerently quarrelling with said object.
Here I was drenched to the bone, holding an upside down umbrella that was now harvesting rain, buffeted on all sides, and spectacles that had misted up (duh; another inanimate object being perverse!). So I was now practically blind. And instead of just ignoring the umbrella and walking in the rain, I stood there, struggling with the latch, trying to close it (which was proving impossible, because of the amount of water already collected and the regular bursts of wind!). Also I kept wiping my glasses hoping I’d be able to see more clearly (insert face palm emoji!) all the while, getting wetter and more windswept (not in the romantic Wuthering Heights fashion, but rather the merciful-heavens-that-wind-just-slapped-my-face form).
Eventually sanity prevailed and I just upended the umbrella (er, yes, I had been holding it upright all this while!) and emptied out the water. After grappling with it and finally managing to wrestle it shut, I decided to open it again – you know, cause it was raining and I needed an umbrella to walk in the rain (go ahead, roll your eyes!). A familiar sensation of déjà vu washed over me along with all the rain as the umbrella repeated its simulation of a bowl.
Finally giving up, I just trudged home, still holding the upside down umbrella over my head, because, you know,…umbrella…rain…
Storm 2006 Oil painting on canvas by Igor Mudrov