It rains quite a bit here, which fact I think we were well warned of in advance. This is a rainy city, and the rain does love to fall.
My recently planted garden (that’s a whole ‘nother blog post, someday, maybe) certainly is enjoying the rain. My hostas are reaching for the sky with a big green "aaahhh!"; the black mondo grass fairly shudders with excitement as it’s pelted by fat juicy drops dripping steadily from the tangle of tree branches above.
And I kind of like the rain, too. In fact, I like it so much that I decided I wanted to go take a walk in it. Or even a proper hike, perhaps; I would imagine that the trails near the Audobon Center in Forest Park might be even lovelier and mistier and redolent of faerieland than they would be on a sunny day.
But to embark on this adventure, I needed one thing: a rain jacket.
I have a tough-ass black leather biker jacket (thanks, sweetie!). I have a gorgeous long far-too-sophisticated-for-the-likes-of-me coat (thanks, Mom!). I even have a cunning little brown tweed zip-up jacket (thanks, Herm, I think!). But do I have anything properly rainproof, ready for wet outdoor adventures, with a hood attached? I do not.
So I headed to REI, where I promptly had a heart attack at the prices of the rain jackets. Two hundred and fifty dollars? Are you shitting me? For a freakin’ chunk of nylon with a designer label on it? The cheapest thing I could find on the clearance rack was still $70, which was (a) roughly twice what I wanted to spend, and (b) only available in an XL. I tried it on anyway. It looked just about as stunningly ridiculous as you might expect.
I could feel my mood heading rapidly downhill. "Never mind," I counseled myself, "I’ll just go to the Lloyd Center mall and poke around there. They must have some sort of Mervyns-y type place that would be the ideal place to find a nice reasonably priced jacket in any color except blue."
You’d think they’d have such a thing, wouldn’t you? Not a chance. I went through Macy*s. I trolled through Nordstrom. I even ventured into both Marshall’s and Ross before being completely overwhelmed by the sheer grotty sadness of it all–plus, they didn’t have rain jackets either. They had ridiculous puffy brown things with hot-pink stripes across the back and hot-pink faux-fur collars. They had things that looked like they might have been perfectly nice rain jackets if they hadn’t been useless bloody vests instead. They had long fancy non-waterproof wool coats, short depressingly tacky jackets with unaccountable bling sprinkled over them, jackets that might well have been waterproof but were in the men’s department and made of a dreadful forest camo fabric that made me want to cry just looking at it.
So I left, my search fruitless. And as I was driving home in the rain (which had continued apace), I started getting really mad.
This is Portland! It freakin’ rains here… kind of a lot! Why the hell don’t any of these stores sell clothes that would be practical and useful and worthwhile? Why does every single rack in every single store have to be packed with wildly inappropriate clothes in varying degrees of heartrending ugliness? Why can’t I just buy a damn rain jacket so I can go out in the damn rain?
And then that kind of got me on a whole long train of thought about the general uselessness and slavelike followerness (is that even a word?) of fashion in general, and that started getting me even more cranky, and I’ll spare you the rest ’cause ugh. But I will tell you this: as I drove home, still jacket-less, I looked out the window at a crowd of people at a bus stop, all getting rained on… and there were two of them who had proper rain jackets, and they were standing there unfazed with their hoods up and their heads held high, while the rest huddled and cowered and held newspapers and textbooks over their heads and looked as wet and miserable as everyone accuses Portland’s weather of being.