It was raining and I couldn't find my favorite umbrella. It's a collapsible umbrella that is remarkably sturdy and is a masculine black that gleams impressively when it is wet. Since I was in a hurry and already late for work, and since it was a day on which I knew the transit system would be climatically challenged, I reluctantly grabbed my wife's spare umbrella and bolted out the door.
As I walked out into a downpour I opened the umbrella to reveal an off-lavender dome with yellowish lacy curlicues around the edges. It did not gleam impressively.
There was also the insignia of a new brand of perfume prominently displayed on the top. The perfume was called "Intensity", but I couldn't help thinking that I might as well have had "girly-man" scrawled across the top of my umbrella.
I had only trudged a few steps toward the bus stop when Nelson, my nemesis, fell in step beside me. He was holding a tent-like umbrella made of dun colored canvas atop a solid wooden pole and having a substantial, leather covered handle.
"What you got there, Jim? Perfume umbrella?"
"Intensity is not a perfume," I said defensively. "It's a fragrance. There's quite a difference. And," I added creatively, "it's unisexual."
"Complementary gift with $35 purchase?"
"I don't know. My wife bought it..." - here I realized I may have made an unfortunate admission, so I quickly covered up. "She bought it for me, though. As an aftershave." I knew it didn't sound convincing but I continued weakly, "Yeah, they threw in the umbrella."
By now I was standing at the bus stop looking pleadingly down the street for the appearance of a bus.
Nelson sniffed the air. "Smells to me like you're wearing Polo." He sniffed again. "Polo Green."
"Yeah, well I don't wear the Intensity every day, Nelson," I snapped. "I like a little variety."
"Let me know next time you're wearing it. I'd be interested."
When I got home that night I found my good old "manly-man" umbrella in the washing machine where I had left it to dry out last time I used it. I also found my wife's bottle of Intensity on the dresser.
I'm debating whether to start wearing it as an aftershave, or just stop shaving altogether.
After all, a bearded man carrying a black umbrella -- what could be less girly than that?