In which I prepare for rainy days

March 29, 2012

My taste for pretty things has always outstripped my budget for those things. As a child, I read reference books on silver and china and crystal patterns, memorizing the names of the really fine ones, planning tables of Richard Ginori china and Baccarat goblets. I was especially judicious about the silver: it could not resemble something suitable for a castle. We are not royalty, and anyway, too much ornament is vulgar. And yes, I did judge my former mother-in-law quite harshly when she waxed lovingly on her favorite sterling pattern: Grande Baroque. The name says it all. It is the cheesy family sedan, in Champagne beige, with smoked glass and Landau roof. Everything extraneous, everything pointless showing off. I also judged her sister very harshly when, at dinner at my house, she picked up a salad fork in my chosen pattern of Gorham Fairfax — clean, elegant, classic, and hefting it in her fingers a few times, said that she thought it’d be heavier. Philistine.

Anyway, I have no occasion to shop these days. The last time I went to Macy’s was for their Presidents’ Day sale, where the captain led me, hobbling, from display bed to display bed so I wouldn’t keel over. Not exactly a leisurely outing, but it was nice to be out. At the mall, of all places. We ate lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen. I don’t remember what we had.

Left to my own devices, I inevitably wind up down some designer website rabbit hole, at the bottom of which is a flashing sign reading To the Trade Only. As I am not in The Trade, and not likely to be so anytime soon, nor will I hire a designer to access these things for me, I sometimes have to worm my way in.

The gloomy weather of late has gotten me thinking about umbrellas, as in, I need a decent one. Luckily, one of my favorite designers, Scalamandré, sells such an umbrella.


So, I ordered one. Maybe you have feelings about this. Maybe you think it’s ugly. It’s not, but some people are bound to react negatively to anything that didn’t originate at Pottery Barn. I cannot wait until my umbrella gets here. I can’t wait until it rains again. I’m in the mood to put on my Gucci loafers, no socks, rolled up jeans and a striped chemise, my mink coat and my new umbrella. That just may get me out of bed to walk to the coffee shop, where I plan to take extensive notes on all passers-by.

Once you understand why I need that umbrella, that specific umbrella; once you understand why it was such an insult when my mother-in-law’s sister derided the weight of my table silver, once you understand how much I rue the distance from Gump’s and its many options for hand-engraving, you will know me a little better. This is not just about materialism. It’s about quality and appreciation. And if you feel the need to tell me how hideous my zebra umbrella is, think twice. Because I don’t need friends who find it acceptable to make me feel bad, and because when it comes to the zebra umbrella, you’re just wrong.



  1. Zebra umbrella!!!!!

    • It comes in other colors — I think the black would complement your locks.

  2. Can more than one person carry a zebra umbrella in your trailer park? Would that be a faux pas? Can I still eat with a spork if I want?

    • It can be the official umbrella of the trailer park. It comes in several colors.

  3. I second every good opinion of your apartment, and I applaud your tasteful silverware. Mine (I have inherited 5 place settings from my great-grandmother, so, you know, it’s hard to use at thanksgiving) is Gorham Chantilly — which is perhaps more decorated than it needs to be but feels familiar. Also, I really love your umbrella. That is all. I hope you do take it to the coffee shop!

    • I happen to like Chantilly. It’s very feminine. Five is an awkward number, but more will come into your life.

      • Yes, I realize that to me it looks like silverware ought to look. I always mean to buy more, a fork at a time, but then things happen like the car needs new tires and I don’t. But someday —

  4. I think that is a very cool umbrella. I wish you rain when it arrives!

    • Thank you! Sorry to be such an umbrella bully. Lately, I feel like whenever I put something out there, someone snarks at it for no good reason. I’m a little defensive. Soon, I will just be able to bat at people with my umbrella.

      • Fuck the haters, man. You have every right to enjoy something that others might find frivolous. They’re just jealous because they lack your sense of style.

  5. It may come in several colors, but I cannot imagine a better color than red! Okay, maaaaybe kelly green. But no, red really is ideal. You chose well!

    • I’m partial to the red. It spoke to me. With its brain sences.

    • The green is also pretty great.

  6. I think it would be grand if you took zebra umbrella to the coffee shop or anywhere you want to go, even on the sunniest of spring days.

    • That is a supreme idea. My parasol. I can carry it every day!

  7. I think the umbrella is lovely! And I really don’t understand why people have to be snarky. It’s so rude. If someone doesn’t like someone else’s tastes, then why don’t they just keep it to themself, right? Like Thumper’s father told him… “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”… 😉

    Haters gonna hate… it’s ridiculous…


    • Aw, Thumper.

      I’m just a little jumpy right now because lately, there’s a little extraneous hating going on. Far in the minority! But it doesn’t feel great.

      • Try not to let the stupid people get you down. They are, just stupid. And their opinion doesn’t matter one iota in your life… or at least it shouldn’t. Only what you think does… Their opinions are just that – opinions. They’re not facts.

        Sending hugs… xoxo

      • I should know better and not care. My brain doesn’t have enough to do.

  8. I hope you enjoy your zebra umbrella.

    Peace and love. And rain.

    • Many kindly thanks.

  9. All Hail The Zebrella!

    That’s the coolest rain deflecting device ever.

    All my Love,

    • The Zebrella! Perfect. I will show it off when I get it.

  10. Who be snarking? I pity the fool that snarks ’bout your brella! My grandmother would love you and your restrained silver fetish. She detested “gilding the Lilly” and I still remember when the funeral director showed her decorative metal coffin options and she said “oh no, that’s for a Jewish person. We’re not magpies.” She was one funny bigot. Knowing your mother-in-law … Remembering that comment made me chuckle.

    • I don’t know, I’m just hyper aware, especially since the whole “I hate you’re apartment” fiasco happened.

  11. Just have to say – I sometimes read your comments – or skim through them so I’m not sure what was said about your apartment but I LOVED it. Yah you might have taken pictures of the less cluttered areas or what have you BUT it looked so inviting that I would have loved to step through my computer and into your apartment (um invited of course!). Also, that umbrella kicks ass and like you said whoever disagrees is just Wrong!!

    • Thanks, Meg! I love my new umbrella. It is awesome!

  12. That is the best zebra umbrella I have ever seen! My umbrella has lemons! I love lemons! Your umbrella choice is magical. I know nothing about silver, but I’m sure your taste is exquisite! xoxo

    • Lemons seem like a cheery theme for an umbrella.

  13. Anyone who does not like that zebra umbrella is a BLIND MORON!! Here’s to quality & appreciation!

    • Amen, girl! Bring on those rainy days!

  14. That umbrella, with its bright red, would very much complement a drizzly, grey, rainy day. I love the idea of you carrying it, the bright spot in a dreary day. I’ve always wanted to have an appreciation for the finer things, but I feel like an imposter every time I try. Unfortunately I’ve had no exposure to any of it, and I’m not sure it would fly in my family anyhow. I love your style and your ability to put just the right things together.

    • Well, thank you angel — you have your own lovely style.

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