May 11, 2019

thinking in the rain

I'm not the only person who has ever gone for a walk in the rain.  I might be, however, the only person in a given radius, measured in leagues, who has gone for a walk in the rain because she wanted to walk along the main roads over in town and the rain would mean that all of the other walkers and joggers who normally infest those pathways like ants wouldn't be there and she wouldn't have to cope with the social situations introduced by their presence.

What do you do if you're walking faster than someone and you come up behind them?  Do you speak before you pass them?  What's the correct berth?  What if someone's jogging past at the same time?  Do you make eye contact with that person?  What if they're wearing sunglasses?  If there are ear buds, do you wave or nod or ignore?  Are you allowed to make the sign of the cross if they're wearing a fanny pack, or is that rude?

I care about all of these things far more than I cared what anyone who noticed me thought this morning as I set out, up my drowsy street, in the downpour.

On the sixth day of walking, I learned things, most of which were nose-oriented.

I learned that a person who goes walking in the rain needs to accept that her nose is going to be wet and slippery and her sunglasses (worn to render her incognito, ostrich-style) will either slide to the tip of her nose or will have to be pushed so far up its bridge that they will promptly fog up.

I learned that wet blue t-shirts are as see-through as white ones.

I learned that I was right about no one else being crazy enough to walk in town this morning.

I learned that when a truck pulling a trailer full of lawn equipment drives by you, the smell of gasoline it leaves behind is strong.

I learned that someone must have fixed the little clock tower sitting in the corner of the park because now the bells chime in tune on the hour.

I learned that a used baby diaper tossed into the woods can be smelled for one hundred and thirty-seven steps.

I learned that I hate Wet Sock just as much now as I ever did, even more than people who throw used baby diapers into the woods when no one is looking.

I learned that rain can feel refreshing.

I learned that when I feel an artificial brava of "yeah, so what?" when I'm walking, I don't clench my thumbs in my fists.

I learned what it feels like to be a bicyclist on the side of the stretch of road that doesn't have a sidewalk, knowing how the people driving their cars past you feel about your presence there, but that empathy doesn't budge how I feel about the hordes of bicyclists who gather in our town square several times a week and ride on our streets, taking up more than half of the road and breaking every traffic law imaginable, all while maintaining a smug attitude (there are local online forums full of Smug) and looking like insects in their tight clothes and helmets and weird eyewear and taking up every parking space even remotely near the park so parents can't bring their children to play there.

Every year, Town Hall sends out a survey asking what we residents would like to see happen.  They receive five thousand surveys back that grumble about how yard waste pick-up in the spring would be rather nice and then go on to scream in large block letters about ridding the town of the Bicycle Menace that plagues it.  Nothing is ever done because there isn't money for bike trails and no law enforcement gets involved when the bicycles are so thick that they block the main road and traffic backs up for half a mile.

This only fuels our anger when we are motorists.  Middle fingers are extended and profane insults are hurled out of car windows.  Everyone is in the right.  It plays out like a miniature Israeli-Palestinian conflict, simmering wishes for injury and misfortune to come to the other, but without actual bombs.

As I walked in the rain this morning, I was passed by a lone cyclist, and without meaning to I raised my hand in greeting, because he was another crazy person out in the rain.  I arrived home a triumphant, soggy traitor and lay out my clothes in the laundry room to dry.


  1. Cyclists are the bane of every motorists existence and most pedestrians. I can't get Doc out of the car without some idiot cycling on the path and giving me grief about the leash being in their way. Funny, they don't appear to like being called fools.

    There's an annoying trend towards accommodating cyclists "because they produce zero emissions" - but like cows they seem to fart more, thus producing more methane. I think there should be some sort of testing to verify the amount.

    I love rain walking - it's peaceful and somehow cleansing. I rarely acknowledge passers-by.

  2. Other crazy people in the rain get a greater recognition from me than the average walker, as well.
    I've seen women encourage each other to do the Death Stare while walking in crowds: walk with your eyes straight forward and just think KILL. Then people will get out of your way, lol. On the other end of spectrum, there are people who can wear themselves out complimenting and fake smiling at everyone. Surely there's some kind of not-awkward middle ground out there...