UMBRELLA TOTING TIME HERE AGAIN

As everyone knows the rain does not fall mainly on the plain. Nor does the slush merely flush the underbrush. It rains hardest in the city, especially when you're late. And those crystals of flouncing snow always become a raging flurry, just higher than your ankle boots, when you're rushing to a sale at Saks to purchase those non-stretch, no-run, indestructible pantyhose.

The inclement weather aside, however, the greatest obstacle to walking the city's streets during a downpour or in the middle of a whirling snowstorm - be it in Manhattan or Seattle - is umbrellas.Umbrellas are everywhere. Big ones, small ones, wide umbrellas, tall umbrellas, tulip-shaped, eye-gouging cacti-pronged. They slash at you from the front, ram the rear and nick you in the side of the head. It's dangerous and frightening. Housewives forgo their mid-af ternoon treks to the city. Businessmen send out their unsuspecting secretaries to buy them sand wiches, which they eat at their desks. In short, the commerce of the city screeches to a halt because of the peoples' fear of having to combat umbrellas. Mayhem rules the streets.

What is needed is controlled mayhem. We need a well-defined set of Rules of the Road for Umbrella Users. Rules that everyone know and adhere to.

But first let us recognize certain primordial types that stalk the city's streets with umbrellas. Let us point them out, label them and then collectively ostracize them with short expletives such as "Up your umbrella, fella." If this does not cower them into becoming less-lethal umbrella users, it at least should do much to make them self-conscious about committing their antisocial acts. And self-consciousness often results is that micro-second of hesitation that makes the adversary vulnerable to a quick parrying thrust of the umbrella to the solar plexus.

Charging Rhinos - This primordial type is usually male. They can be spotted quickly by their size, well over six feet and approximately 250 pounds and by the eye-aimed angle of thejagged top shaft of their umbrellas.

Banging Boars - This is usually a female type, no more than five feet, at least 150 pounds and about 50 years old. Their method is to sneak up on you and repeatedly bang your unprotected rear with short impervious thrusts. Then as they pass you sprawled on the sidewalk, their handbags, which have been surgically attached to their elbows, whop you one on the side of the head.

Dainty Darts - Strictly a female type usually to be found on the fashionable avenues. You smell them first, oozing in musk oil. Their umbrellas are "chic crimson" colored with a Saks label still attached. Atop them are sharpened spikes with which they impair from the flank in quick darting moves while deftly cutting in front of you as they shop from window to window.

Beach Boys - These are the boy-at-heart types who, good naturedly and with a toothy smile, take up an entire sidewalk because they think it's sporty to carry a red-and-white striped beach umbrella.

Madison Avenue Spear Carriers - This is the male counterpart to the Dainty Dart. Their slope-shouldered Brooks Bros. pure-Afghan raincoats usually give them away.

Whopper Poppers - These are males and females who get their kicks out of popping open push-button umbrellas in your face. They're called whopper poppers because of the "whopping" sound their umbrella makes as it pops open under your own umbrella defense.

Of course, these are not all the primordial types who walk the city's streets. But they are the most obvious ones who can be quickly recognized by the uninitiated. They are incorrigibly antisocial individuals and no mercy should be shown to them. But for the rest of us, who primarily use umbrellas to keep reasonably dry and not to physically express partially submerged suburban natures, we should abide by the following set of Rules of the Road.

* The non-umbrella user has the right of way at all times. Especially, room should be made for them to walk close to the side of the building to benefit from overhanging marques and abutments. After all, the non-umbrella user is the most enlightened of the city dweller and should be protected at all costs (there are no known females who do not use umbrellas).

* Wind-in-the-face umbrella users have the right-of-way at all times among other umbrella users.

* Shorter users must yield the right-of-way to taller users, tilting their umbrellas no less than 30 degrees away from the approaching taller user.

* Similar heighted users must both tilt their umbrellas away at least 30 degrees when passing one another.

* While turning to the left across pedestrian traffic, users must tilt their umbrellas at least 30 degrees away from the approaching umbrella user and politely say: "Up your umbrella, fella."

* Taller users must yield the right of first closure. (It's worse to have the water draining from a closed umbrella pour down your neck than into your galoshes.)

* Passengers getting on subways or buses must yield umbrella right-of-way to passengers attempting to get off the transit.

This is an abridged version of the rules, naturally. The definitive version is still in the process of being developed. The editors are open to suggestions. If you are so disposed please send your proposed rules to Up Your Umbrella, Editor, The Journal of Commerce.

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