Saturday, February 18, 2012

Who'll Stop the Rain?

My wife doesn’t like the rain. She finds it to be both wet and inconvenient. It is especially wet and inconvenient when ones only available mode of transportation is a motorbike. And I will concede that much. Clearly, having to drive a motorbike through Bali’s torrential rains -- or having to be conveyed upon the back of one, which is the situation in her case -- is distinctly less than pleasant. One might compare it to going through a carwash with the top down, or climbing into the bathtub fully dressed. I’ve purchased for her one of these long rain jackets of course, but even these do not completely protect the clothing and body from the effects of full submersion.

When I first came to Bali, two Februarys ago, I saw but little rain throughout the ensuing year, and surmised therefore that rainfall in Bali was rare and brief. I went swimming nearly every day in the sea, baked my exterior as brown as pumpernickel -- micro-waved really, for the effect was that swift -- and then dipped my body anon to the cooling surf, and on doing so emitted, I believe, a satisfied hiss as the water touched my superheated skin. I took dozens of photos, mostly of the sun, and sent these back home along with happy declarations to the effect that I had found, at long last, paradise.

Two years down the road it seems to have been raining since November 1, 2011, and I’m becoming damnably sick of the stuff. In order to appreciate the depth of my disenchantment it will be helpful for the reader to know that I was born and spent 55 years in the State of Oregon, well known for its rainy season of about 11-½ month’s duration. Native Oregonians, as the old saying goes, are born with webbed feet, like a duck’s. In fact, one of our University football teams is known as the Oregon Ducks. We are also known as the Beaver State, although any beavers that may have once existed there have long since been turned into hats and shawls. In any case, I had, when I came to Bali, fifty-five years of rain under my belt, which seemed more than ample for any one lifetime.

But what is my wife’s excuse? Indonesian by birth, she grew up in Jakarta, then worked in Bali, then moved to Arizona (a State which is hotter than all the islands of Indonesia put together), and experienced after that a mere eight years of immersion in the giant puddle otherwise known as the Pacific Northwest. What does she have to complain about? What are a mere eight years compared to fifty-five?

Ah, but complain she does. Maybe it’s because her years in Indonesia conditioned her toward the expectation that the sun ought sometimes to shine. Maybe it’s just because she’s a woman and therefore cannot help complaining. It occurs to me just now that my mother also complained about the rain -- and she surely should have known better, having endured it from the day of her birth in 1926.

Everybody talks about the weather, as Mark Twain observed, but nobody does anything about it.

And yet I feel this same expectation in myself. Just yesterday morning, for instance, when the time had come to drive my wife to work, it started to rain -- not just to sprinkle, mind you, but to piss down, in sheets, in blankets, in duvet covers. This is the habit of the weather in Bali. It has been carefully calibrated by the gods of the island to coincide with my wife’s coming and going.

As I waited for her in the driveway, I noted her to briefly poke her head out the doorway, and then pull it back again and disappear within. After a time I came to see what had become of her, and found her slumped dolefully upon the couch, feet hanging over the edge like a child’s.

“What’s wrong?” I said. “Won’t you be late for work?”

“I can’t take this,” she answered. “Now I need to roll up my pants, or change to shorts. And what about my shoes? My shoes will get wet. One million rupiah, turned to garbage.”

“But I think it’s stopping now, Honey.” I returned to the porch, gazed beseechingly at the clouds. “I think we have a window here. Let’s go while we can, ya?”

Morosely, she mounted the bike and we started out, steering clear of puddles and lakes and streams and reservoirs.

By the time we reached the intersection with the Bypass, the rain had started again, and with renewed vigour at that. We stopped, opened the seat, and retrieved our rain jackets. She threw her helmet.

“What?” I said, running after the thing.

“I’m not happy,” she said.

“Well then . . . What?”

“Well then, DO SOMETHING!”

I considered suggesting she try tapping her heels together three times and saying “There’s no place like home,” but then thought better of it. There was really nothing to do but forge on, and so we did. In silence. Awful, dreadful, deafening silence.

Now the reason I’m telling you all this is to advertise my wife’s need of a car, along with our coincident lack of funding for the same. To that end, if there is anyone out there who wants to sell one cheaply, or better yet simply gift a car, please write to the e-mail below. Or simply park the thing in front of my house. The house I rent, I mean. I cannot, as I’ve said, offer money, but I am willing to trade my soul. It’s not a perfect soul, and has its share of dints and scrapes, but it’s still in usable condition.

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