The conjunction of Trinity Church, the Hancock Tower, the new Hancock building and several other massive structures around Copley Square creates a massive wind tunnel between Clarendon and St James Ave. On clear days, it’s bad; on stormy days it’s terrible. Walking from my office toward Fire & Ice for a quick dinner last week, I leaned into a gale. I pointed my umbrella in a dozen different directions, like a malfunctioning radar dish, to avoid the wind.
One strong gust lifted me onto my toes and then relinquished me with a snap. Looking up, I saw that the shaft of my umbrella had broken in two. What I’d thought was a metal rod with a wooden veneer was, in fact, genuine wood, unable to cope with the vortex of downtown Boston. I was holding a curved umbrella handle that ended in splinters, marching down St James with my first initial held proudly over my head. The ribs and fabric of the umbrella cartwheeled past me.
Sprinting back the way I came, I speared the remains of my umbrella with the splintery end, lest it bounce into an intersection and cause an accident. I tried to fold the top half closed, but the shaft had broken off too high. An umbrella works by affixing its ribs to a single ring around the handle; you open or close the umbrella by sliding this ring up or down. But the handle had broken off below where the ring would stay if the umbrella were closed. So I had no choice but to carry the open umbrella and the broken remains of its handle in my hands until I could find a trash can that would take them. Since the wind had not let up, the umbrella portion (which I was grasping by its freezing metal spindles) would fill its sails and jerk around, like a leashed Dalmatian. All this while I’m waving a jagged wooden rod over my head, for balance, and getting drenched.
I had a beer with dinner.