Justin and I thought umbrellas were things men carried. Men like our dads held them above their briefcases on their way out the door. Those umbrellas sat in stands in the foyers near our dads’ other work things—rubber galoshes, khaki raincoats—which we weren’t allowed to disturb. Since the eighties were an era when men didn’t bring home work except for show, there his business things sat, claiming a corner of the foyer, from the moment he entered until first thing in the morning, when he left.
Justin and I decided to be men on a day when it wasn’t raining. We grabbed our dads’ umbrellas, pulling on the curled handles and drawing the rods up from their stands. We went outside and turned on the sprinkler and unfurled black umbrellas, which made a whoosh like dark wings, and pretended to be busy-ness men. I held paychecks in my hands as water streamed overhead. Justin raised an index finger as he parried the spray, signaling me to wait as I called his name.
He’d ask me for a “rain check,” which is what a man would say if you rushed him in the doorway. We thought it must have something to do with rain.