Mary Poppins I’m Not

Today I broke not one, but two cardinal rules of mine.

First, I walked across the parking lot of my condominium complex carrying an umbrella. An open umbrella. Over my head!! 

And if that wasn’t bad enough, it was a leopard print umbrella.

Granted, it was pouring rain. Using an umbrella prevented me from getting drenched. But I’ve got this hard-and-fast rule that I never use an umbrella. Not up here in the notoriously soggy Pacific Northwest, where it’s either drizzling or misting or flat-out raining nine months out of the year. Most locals avoid umbrellas. Hell, I don’t even own one. But Tara, being new to these environs, does – and as I was walking out the door, she offered hers up. Leopard spots and all. I hesitated for a few seconds, but the cold early May chill (48 degrees) and the sound of the rain drumming incessantly against the roof convinced me that, just this once, it wouldn’t hurt to actually stay dry for a change. Comfort and practicality won out, you might say, temporarily silencing the stubborn Taurus in me.

“Thanks, honey,” I said, and stepped outside. Walking to the car, I marveled over the fact that even though the rain was coming down in buckets, I was completely dry. Hmm, I thought. Maybe I’ve been wrong all along. Perhaps I should resign from the anti-umbrella contingent. It’s kind of nice not getting drenched. 

And then I saw them. The construction crew. As you might recall, my complex is in the midst of a months-long construction project. They’re replacing the siding and windows, redoing the support beams, fixing the roofs, etc. Dozens of orange-vested construction workers mill about the area every weekday, and today was no exception. Burly guys. The kind who drive Camaros and drink beer and use the f-word as an adjective, a verb and a noun all in the same sentence (i.e. “that f*cking f*ck is so f*cked”). They stared at me as I passed by, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. And then it dawned on me. The leopard-spotted umbrella clutched in my hand was an odd contrast to their hard hats and tool belts. Not exactly the picture of manliness (and I’m already at a disadvantage because on the rare occasion when I let the f-word slip out, it’s only once per sentence). They probably thought I was on my way to fetch a nice cup of chamomile tea somewhere. To add insult to injury, once I reached the car, I got soaked anyway because it took me a good two minutes to figure out how to collapse the damn umbrella. This took quite a bit of skill and dexterity, as it requires the user to push down on multiple levers and buttons with his fingers while sliding said contraption closed. I felt like a f*cking contortionist (see? only once) trying to fold that sucker up.

Guess I won’t be flying over the skies of London anytime soon since I HATE UMBRELLAS!

None of it was worth the hassle. Next time I’ll just get wet.

And then, when I got back inside, I made myself a sandwich because it was lunchtime. Not a normal sandwich, mind you. A grilled cheese sandwich. But not a normal grilled cheese sandwich, mind you either. A grilled cheese sandwich with my old nemesis, Velveeta.

What has gotten into me today?!

My mom swears by this particular grilled cheese concoction. Bread, Velveeta, a sliced tomato. Since I had half a box of Velveeta left over, and because I’m such a grilled cheese fan, I decided to try her sandwich out myself. I asked Tara if she wanted me to make her one, but she came up with some excuse about not being hungry.

“Hmm,” I remarked upon taking a bite. “It’s not as bad as you might think.”

Which is a backhanded compliment (a/k/a a complisult) if ever there was one. “Not as bad as you might think” is hardly a ringing endorsement. If that’s the best I can say about a grilled cheese sandwich, I think I’m going to stick with honest-to-goodness real cheddar next time. That’s twice I’ve tried to like Velveeta now, and I’m 0 for 2.

Sorry, mom.

On a positive note, the house is probably about 90% organized now. The boxes are gone, and the place is looking pretty spiffy if I do say so myself (god, it’s a good thing the construction workers aren’t around to hear that sentence come out of my mouth). Tara and I were actually able to kick our feet up last night and enjoy a movie and a bowl of stovetop popcorn (if you’ve never seen the classic film Some Like It Hot with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe, you’re missing out). The night before Tracy and David were in town, and they stopped by for a visit after we helped them clear out a storage unit. There have been several surreal moments I’ve encountered over the past eight months while dating Tara, and having her mom sitting across the table in my dining room was definitely one of them. Surreal but good, I should say. Tonight, my parents are coming over for dinner (Velveeta is most definitely not on the menu). We’re settling into a routine of – gasp, dare I say it? – normalcy, and it feels pretty good!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

36 thoughts on “Mary Poppins I’m Not

  1. Yay, glad you’re settling in. LOL about the umbrella – I can PICTURE this happening – which makes it even funnier.

    Some like it hot is a fantastic movie – I had to watch it in one of my film classes in college and I really enjoyed it. 🙂

    Its been feeling like the PNW around here the last few days…rainy and cool. I think its the same temperature here that it is there!


    1. Film classes can be fun. I remember watching High Noon in college and being blown away by it. Hope your weather warms up soon (if that’s what you’re looking for)!


  2. Velveeta is to cheese as Spam is to meat! Mark, I bought Velveeta for the 1st time last month (because a recipe called for it) and was a bit shocked to learn it wasn’t refrigerated. That should have been my 1st clue. I’m sure Velveeta has some good uses around the house…..but, imho, eating it isn’t one of ’em! 🙂


    1. Hey now, Caryn. Don’t be dissing Spam. You know how much I love that canned meat product!!

      The fact that it isn’t refrigerated IS pretty scary, now that you mention it…


  3. OMG, Mark, the Mary Poppins graphic is freakin’ HYSTERICAL!!!!

    And listen, being someone who lived in Florida for 20 years (where it rains almost every single day) I too never carried an umbrella because getting a bit wet was par for the course. Plus, and I know this sounds weird, but I actually like getting wet from rain.

    So glad to hear that you and Tara are all settled in and that the house is 90% organized – that’s AWESOME!

    Have a GREAT dinner tonight with the folks!

    P.S. Love the movie, “Some Like It Hot!”


    1. I don’t mind getting wet when the rain is warm. It’s a little less pleasant when it’s an icy cold downpour (as is often par for the course here). But again, Taurus = stubborn = no umbrella!


    1. The difference is, I want the parachute to stay open. If that thing closes while you’re plummeting to earth, the end result is a little worse than a few drops of rain dribbling down your forehead!


  4. OMGoodness…! You, of all people, opened and used an umbrella?!? Tell me Mark…were you at least wearing flannel? If you were then you are forgiven for the umbrella and the *gasp* velveeta.

    Surreal is a great word and while it was a bit surreal for me as well, it also felt perfectly normal. And I like that. In fact, I love it!

    Now… go watch “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. After dinner with your folks…it’s a great Marilyn Monroe movie too.


    1. Actually, I didn’t even wear flannel today! I did have it on the past two days, though (as you know – you saw it!). Tara has also been raving about “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” so the movie is now on my Netflix queue and we will be watching it soon!


    1. ‘Tis true. Whatever you do, do NOT open an umbrella around here! Nothing screams “tourist” like that (although mispronouncing the Willamette River is a close second).


  5. Meh…f*ck those guys. 😉

    Not only does my boyfriend move my car in the pouring rain, he brings me Burgerville rosemary and garlic fries after I’ve been bustin’ ass all morning. You’re the best, babe!


  6. As much as we all love to see your smiling face, I am sure, I do have to say the picture of your head superimposed on Mary Poppins’ body is a wee bit disturbing 😛 Of course I think this of almost any superimposed image so I guess I don’t really have an unbiased opinion.

    The entire time I was reading of your umbrella adventure I kept thinking “don’t pinch your fingers!” I had a horrible umbrella experience as a child that I have relived many times over with the blasted things…they hurt when they pinch! Glad you didn’t have to suffer through that in front of the burly construction workers 🙂


  7. Just catching up on your blogs…and I laughed out loud, which is bad, because I’m working, and I’m pretty sure work isn’t supposed to be fun. I could literally picture you walking across the street, seeing the workers and fighting to close the umbrella. LOL. Sooo funny Mark, thanks for the laugh.


    1. Oh, yeah. It was a real hoot. I’m just glad today is SUNNY. I can’t make a fool of myself outside!

      Well, knowing me, I still could. But at least it won’t involve an umbrella!


      1. Now that I’ve read the post, I got a good snicker out of picturing you with the leopard print umbrella in front of those guys – priceless. And there is no good way to get into a car and remain dry while you put down the umbrella. Definitely need a valet or something to hold it for you.


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