By Trina Machacek
In all the years I was married to a Czechoslovakian I learned a few Czech words. Bumbershoot is one of those words. I really don’t think it is a true Czech word. I rather believe it is a word his grandmother used. I think it is the cutest word. Bumbershoot. Just makes you smile when you say it. Okay it makes me smile. Of course I learned some of “those” words too. But! Yes an off colored “but.” I will not go into those words as some of them even make my face red. I just want to talk about bumbershoots.
I was in a new store recently in Eureka as it was the first day they were open. It is a cute antique store, Afterlife Antiques and Oddities, and among all goodies on display and for sale along with a stuffed raccoon eating from a box of junior mints, he’s aptly named, Junior Mints, were some old umbrellas, aka bumbershoots.
Yes a bumbershoot is an umbrella. In the store a quick discussion came up about opening an umbrella while inside.
Superstitions are interesting to say the least. I’m among those who both believe and don’t believe in superstitions.
To some extend I think most people find it all phooey. If you think about it though, the bad luck stories of black cats and walking under a ladder had to come from somewhere. I mean you can’t just make that stuff up. Or can you? A wonderment for sure.
Is it that you can’t come into a house with an open umbrella or is it that you can’t open it before you go outside? Both could be met with distain from the lady of the house. Coming into a house to get out of a rain storm where it’s raining hard enough to need an umbrella you risk getting the floor wet?
A wet floor might lead to a slip and fall. Truly unlucky. On the other hand, opening an umbrella inside to keep rain from landing on your noggin when you step outside?
Well let’s see. First off I can see opening a big ole thing with sticky out parts could put an eye out, as all mothers would say about BB guns. If you are in some fancy house with breakables near the door your bumbershoot could knock over some priceless do-dad handed down from the nearest five and dime store. Or something from great aunt Matilda who brought it over on the second ship after the Mayflower.
Which ever kind of friends and family you have. Mine is of the five and dime family.
Do superstitions about umbrellas cover parasols too? The frilly little things ladies used to keep the sun off their delicate faces while they fluffed at themselves by waving a hankie under their chins.
Oh and do the superstitions also include those hats that you can buy that have little umbrellas attached to them. Those hats you are most likely to see at a baseball game where they’re worn to keep the sun at bay from red faced fans. I do believe that the attached umbrellas on those umbrella topped hats have been detonated to full openness more than once inside a home.
I just talked to a friend who tried to school me that bumbershoot is a British slang word. No way. I shall still think of it as a grandma Machacek Czech word. It’s all in what you want and feel.
I feel it is bad luck to open a bumbershoot inside a house. Then again I would rather go outside and dance in the rain instead of trying to keep it off my head. I mean, have you ever washed your hair with rain water? There was a reason people kept a “rain barrel” under the eaves of a house.
Of course I also believe that climbing the north side of a tree, while the sun is in the last hours of a summer day will result in a fall and a broken appendage. Maybe not from falling out of that particular tree but at some point in your life. Hey who said you couldn’t make this stuff up?
Dance in the rain, climb the north side of a tree, cross the path of a black cat. But for goodness sakes do not pick up a penny that is tails up until you turn it over and rub it on the ground first to rub off all the bad luck. Especially when it’s raining and you are carrying an open bumbershoot.
Trina lives in Eureka. Her funny book, “They Call Me Weener” is available on Amazon.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a signed copy.