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July 12, 2002

Annoying the Wife - Chapter 7

Singing In The Rain

It rained yesterday, a hard rain, one that we hadn't seen in months. No lightning, and only occasional faraway thunder. I sat with Ngnat in the garage and exchanged observations with her about the weather.

"Do you see the rain?" I asked, as if she had suddenly gone blind.

She looked out at the driveway rather doubtfully. "wain. cold."

"It's not that bad, honey." I reached out beyond the lip of the garage, into the downpour "Put your hand out here and you can feel the rain!"

"no daddy." She was having none of it. "go inside".

"Rain is fun, honey. Do you see it splashing?"

"go inside now!" She headed for the stairs to the kitchen. "Bye-bye!"

"Wait, Ngnat! You want to hold the umbrella?"

"no."

Time to roll the bones. I picked her up, opened the umbrella and walked out. She protested vehemently.

"NOOOOOOOOOOO!" gasp! "what's that?"

"That's the sound of the rain on the umbrella." The nylon made a crackling sound, like drops of water bouncing about in hot cooking oil. "You like it?"

"uh-huh"

2 years is admittedly not long to experience much in the world, particularly if they're your first two years, but you'd think that a kid would have rain down pat by now. We'd been in a drought ever since Ngnat was born, so her greatest exposure to rain had come from the Itsy-Bitsy Spider song. She knew lightning, and she knew thunder. Neither particularly bothered her, since on the rare occasions we did have storms her mother and I would walk around grinning madly, ecstatic storm fanatics, saying things like "Did you see the lightning? It was pretty, wasn't it? Pretty lightning! Loud thunder!" in the hope that this would immunize her against fear, keep her from cringing in the corners when a future storm came by. We did the same thing when we first introduced her to the baby pool at the community center, exclaiming "Wheeeee!, What fun!" whenever she lost her footing and toppled over. After the first couple of times she was convinced, coughing out "wheee" while rubbing the water out of her eyes.

I don't remember missing a chance as a kid to play in the rain. As long as there was no thunder or lightning, we could go outside during the storm. One bolt of lightning, one crack of thunder, no matter how far away, and Mom would appear the front door, calling us inside. If that didn't happen, then we'd drop twigs in the gutters and follow them down the miniature rapids as they raced to the storm drain at the end of the road. We'd pull hard for our speedboat to outpace the others, and we weren't above tossing the occasional well-placed rock to disrupt a competitor. We'd snatch the winner from the mouth of the drain, just before it fell through the iron grid into the dark sewer below, and race back up the hill to do it all again. The losers were abandoned to the inky depths. They had lost, after all, and must pay the price. The downpour would slacken, and the boats would get smaller and lighter as the torrent in the gutter turned into a trickle, until even brown, curled grass clippings from the lawn caught on the asphalt and ground to a halt. Mom would make us undress and dry off on the back porch, and we'd run to hang our clothes on the line. Naked of course, which was cute when we were 7, but rather disturbing at 17.

I've taken showers in the rain. The first had to have been before I was five, because my grandfather was still alive. We were at his house, in a tiny little town on the coast, and apparently I was going through a stubborn stage, because I was refusing to take a bath. It was late afternoon, and the clouds just opened up. Not a thunderstorm, but with the heavy, heavy rain of the older Peanuts strips, where you can barely see the outline of Charlie Brown on the pitcher's mound through all the rain Schulz has drawn coming down around him. Rain so heavy that when you breathe in you get a mouthful of water. Dad stripped himself down to shorts, did the same to me, threw me over his shoulder and ran out into the rain. I was immediately soaked. The water in the street probably wasn't more than a couple of inches deep, but it seemed like an enormous flood to me. He produced a bar of soap and started lathering up.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Taking a rain shower. You want to?"

Well, yea! This was the oddest thing I had ever seen, and I'd seen a lot in my four or five years. So I bathed under the sky, rubbing soap into my hair, watching the suds flow away from me down the street. By the time I was done, the rain was almost over, the sun was coming out, and Dad held me under the waterfall from the parsonage's gutter for a final rinse, while my mom watched with her parents from the screened-in porch. I don’t remember much from that age, but I remember that.

So Ngnat and I stood in the driveway and sang in the rain, well hummed,

The rain, rain, rain, came down, down, down
In rushing, rising, rivlets
'Til the river crept out of it's bed
And crept right into Piglet's

Poor Piglet he was la,la,la
La,la,la,la,la,la,la,la.
La,la,la,la,la,la,la,la

And we stomped in the puddles, and looked at the flowers. Ngnat was fascinated with the gutter rapids, but feared entering their mighty flow.

“Daddy, sit down.”

I sat on the end of the driveway, soaking my tail in the puddles, and she lay spread-eagled across my legs, watching the water run through her outstretched fingers.

“waaaain, waaaain, waaaain, waaaain, waaaain, waaaain,” she sang, over and over again, hardly moving at all except to wiggle her fingers, finally catching the r-sound “raaaain, raaaain.”

“What are you two doing out there?” Mommy!

Ngnat jerked up and yelled back, “Mommy! Rain!”

I stood her up in the road, water swirling around her ankles. “You want to run to mommy in the rain?”

“uh-huh”

“Ok!” I tossed the umbrella into the yard. “Ready? One, two, three, ruuuuuuuuuuuuun!”

She pounded up the drive, screeching and giggling as if she was being chased by happy chocolate puppies, until we reached shelter. She looked up at us.

“More?”

Down we went. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!.” Back we came. “Runrunrunrunrunrunrun!”

“More?”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Stomp in the puddle!” Stomp. Stomp. “Run back! Runrunrunrunrunrun!”

Sainted wife and mother was busy snapping pictures as we ran back and forth, up and down, with another “More?” always awaiting us in the garage. Until….

“Mommy, run in rain?

Oh my, that was a good idea. I joined in, bouncing.

“Mommy run in rain! Mommy run in rain!”

You could see the battle behind her eyes. On the one hand, dry clothes and comfort. On the other hand, a toddler and an idiot husband, jumping up and down, yelling “Mommy run in rain!. Mommy run in rain!”

She grabbed hands. Down we flew. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Stomp in the puddle, stomp in the puddle!”

I plopped down, upping the ante. “Sit in the puddle! sit in the puddle!”

Ngnat sat down and started splashing.

Dirty look. Dirty, dirty look. Then mommy sat in puddle! Oh, the pleasure this gave the little one. Mommy sat in puddle!

Later that night. Ngnat in pajamas, sucking her thumb as we rocked the last of the day away.

“Did you have a good day, hon?”

“es.”

“What did you like best?

She looked up at me, eyes full of wonderment and awe.

“Mommy run in rain!”

Posted by Bigwig at July 12, 2002 12:51 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
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