Childhood Status Symbol

Umbrella The SeeThrough Raincoat and Brolly (2)

When we grow up we don’t really shed childhood.  It is tucked away inside us, nice and quiet, suppressed by what we perceive as Adult Behaviour.  Until something triggers that child-proof gate.  Our sillies jump out!  Irrepressible, childlike joy will spring into our hearts, gleam in our eyes and beam from our faces.  Oldies will smile benignly at us but a child will shriek with delight because they understand.  Anything can trigger your past.  A puppy, red shoes, a TV show, theatre tickets, sweets, that winning point, a favourite song, splashing in a puddle with a clear plastic umbrella, er, wait, what was that?  “A clear plastic umbrella?” said Adult Voice.  Yes, when I was young, the most coveted accessory for primary school students was a clear plastic umbrella.  The plastic was plain, you could see the metal spokes through it and the handle was white.It was enthralling to watch raindrops falling on a see-through umbrella held over your friend’s head, water trickling off and dripping onto the ground while she stayed dry.  If you were really fancy (or your father had enough money for kids fripperies) you could buy them with ladybirds or slices of fruit and suchlike imprinted on them.  If you were really rich (and more of a teenager) you teamed it with a short skirt, beehive hairdo and white vinyl go-go boots with lipstick to match.  Trés chic.I haven’t researched this but I’m pretty sure one or two models would have slinked down the catwalk twisting a clear plastic umbrella shaped like a mushroom.  Or, shock horror, wearing a clear plastic raincoat!  “Personally I think you would sweat horribly inside one of those,” said Adult Voice. Anyhow, here comes the sad part.  I was not one of the groovy girls, I never owned a clear plastic umbrella.Somehow I managed to survive the ignominy of having a pale blue nylon umbrella.  Its saving grace was a real bamboo handle and it lasted for years.  Once I left it on the bus and my parents tracked it down in the city council’s lost property office.  Hard to believe now, but there it was in all its pale blue opaque glory.  I have since owned a stylish British brolly, frilly French parapluie, Winnie-the-Pooh bear parasol and various brands in various colours mainly used as sunshades. Until last week, drum roll please, when I came across a clear plastic umbrella hanging on a sale rack.  It was the standard shape, with the usual opening and closing action and it was only a couple of dollars.  Sold!  I actually whooped with excitement.  Finally, a dream come true.  “Pity it’s a clear sunny day,” said Adult Voice.  I brushed this aside.  Once I was out of crowd eye-range, I shook it out.  So clear, so transparent, so useless in the glare of a hot day.  “Be quiet,” I snapped at Adult Voice.  I pushed the umbrella open and twirled it wildly above my head.  I’d made it.  I had joined the Groovy Girls.  My childish delight brimmed over!  And delight brings recollections.My very own CPU has flourished several times in light rain, occasionally the plastic will stick together, but that doesn’t stop me opening it just to marvel at the concept.  Truly, an umbrella worth waiting for.  Now I’m thinking about those white vinyl go-go boots...

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward