The big question, of course, is whether your guests use or ditch their sheaths. Wig & Pen put that question to thirty owners of collapsible umbrellas. Twenty-four confessed to a sheathless lifestyle, five said that they sheathed religiously, and one said that she wasn’t sure. Among the sheathless majority, eight,
including the author of this blog, admitted to setting sheaths aside for possible later use. None of them got around to using them, though, although several confessed to micro-twinges of guilt. In contrast, six nonsheathers disposed of their sheaths immediately after the point of purchase—some with relish; some with indignation.
The five dedicated sheathers all exuded a passion for organization. Some admitted to creative ordering systems of everyday artifacts like clothes and cutlery. One sheath-abiding informant noted that he had learned respect for umbrellas from his father, who had lived in London. England, he emphasized, is an advanced civilization in the ways of rain, fog, and rain gear. (When poring through his late father’s personal effects, he had discovered different colored umbrellas that coordinated smartly with the dead man’s differently hued suits.)
|James Smith & Sons: London's Largest Purveyor of Umbrellas|
Another dedicated sheather was a health educator who had imparted sex education in a variety of venues, including a county prison. A show-stopper in her act involved the proper ensheathment of a condom on an oversized latex “demonstrator.”
Share your sheath-worthy research with the Wig & Pen community! For starters, you might consider the following avenues of inquiry: Is umbrella sheathing behavior positively related to traditional demographic variables like age, gender, and income? How about differences in attitudes and behavior between boomers and Xers? between florists and roofers? between Shriners and Albanians?
Do dedicated umbrella sheathers have a lower incidence of STDs than their sheathless counterparts? How do couples with contradictory sheathing habits mediate their differences? (Is counseling advisable? And If so, how does one find a sheath-neutral therapist?)
Before you begin your research—one more insight, inspired by a friend in marketing. Umbrella sheaths are hybrids—part packaging, part umbrelloid. If you want them out of your life but are conflicted, view them as packaging. You’ll toss them post haste, unless of course, you get mired in proper sheath recycling.