Herman: Happy Umbrella Day, Dori!
Dori: I’m not feeling so happy. Purrsonally, umbwellas scare me. One minute they’re narrow and behaving themselves… The next, they fling open their moufs and puff up like a Persian having a hissy fit.
Herman: Our meowmy always says in order to get over our fears, we first must understand what we fear.
Dori: I’m okay not getting over my fear.
Herman: I’m not asking you to get warm and fuzzy with an umbrella. But if you learn things about them, maybe they won’t seem so scary.
Dori: Yoo said that about Daddy snoring. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
Herman: Look! I’ve booted up Mom’s laptop and asked Doktor Google about umbrellas. Read the first line.
Dori: The oldest weference to a collapsible umbwella dates to the year 21 AD, when… some dood named Wang Mang *snickers behind paw* had one designed for his cery-monial carwiage.
Herman: The word “parasol” is a combination of para, meaning to stop or to shield, and sol, meaning sun. Also, the word “umbrella” evolved from the Latin word umbella. An umbel is a flat-topped rounded flower. Also… umbra means shaded or shadow.
Dori: In Bwitain… Oh! That’s where Pwincess Erin and Bionic Basil live! Brolly is a slang word for umbwella. It’s also used in Iweland, New Zealand –that’s where Miz Marjorie at Dash Kitten lives–Austwalia, South Afwica, and Kenya.
Herman: Bumbershoot is a fanciful Ameowicanism from the late 19th century.
Dori: Say that word again.
Herman: What word? Bumbershoot?
Dori: Yes. Say it again.
Herman: I just did.
Dori: I’m waiting….
Dori: I wuv how yoor nose wrinkles when you say that word. Say it again.
Herman: No. Moving on. In 1838, the Baron Charles Random de Berenger instructed readers of his book How to Protect Life and Property by using an umbrella as an improvised weapon against highwaymen.
Dori: In January 1902, an awticle in The Daily Mirror instwucted wimmen on how to defend themselves from wooffians with an umbwella or parasol. Awrent they the same thing?
Herman: No. Remember, umbrellas are to repel water. Parasols are to shade from the sun. And, it’s ruffians. Not wooffians.
Dori: *blink blink* I don’t understand.
Herman: Moving on… In March 2011, media outlets revealed that French president Nicolas Sarkozy had started using a £10,000 armor-plated umbrella to protect him from attackers. Also, in 1978, Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov was killed in London by a dose of ricin injected via a modified umbrella. The KGB is widely believed to have developed a modified umbrella that could deliver a deadly pellet.
Dori: See! I told yoo umbwellas could be dangerous!
Herman: Keep reading.
Dori: In the entertainment world, John Steed, in the television series The Avengers, used an umbwella which was part yardstick, and in the mewvee Batman Returns, the Penguin played by Danny DeVito sports a bullet and gas-firing umbwella.
Herman: *Closes laptop* So! Now that you know some things about umbrellas, are you still afraid of them.
Dori: Yes! But that doesn’t stop me from looking wonderpurr when meowdeling one.