I will have to be honest with you here, dear readers, and I trust you to keep my secrets safe in your hearts. So don’t pass this around.

I have a severe case of identity crisis such that I avoid carrying with me things that will cast doubt about my gender. I’m talking about umbrellas. I can’t think of a more feminine item, except navel rings, and of course skinny jeans — that pair of pants made from “ultra comfortable girdle fabric” that slims a woman’s thighs, lengthens her legs, lifts her buttocks and promises to make her look 15 pounds thinner.

Since there’s no way that I will attach anything to my umbilicus and it’s over my dead body that I’ll be seen in skinny jeans, let me focus on the umbrella instead, and rain for that matter.

I blame my grade school teachers for my aversion to umbrellas. Do you remember how in grade school we were discouraged to play with dolls but were called ‘bad boy’ if we refused to join those extremely feminine parlor games,

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like Maria Went To Town? Didn’t we feel abused being forced to wear Maria’s shawl, and Maria’s skirt, and Maria’s clogs, and Maria’s lipstick, and Maria’s foolish smile as Maria — hips a-swaying — goes to town carrying an empty basket and… horror of all horrors… an umbrella?

I’m telling you this because rain is here. And rain has this habit of coming when it’s time to rush to the office. And I don’t have a car, and I live in a cubbyhole a hundred meters from the main road where taxis mysteriously disappear at the first sign of rain. So for days now I’ve been forced to compromise my image of myself as macho journalist

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in torn jeans, funky shirt and worn out Chucks.

I can’t tell you the extent of my suffering keeping my hips from swaying as I walk down the road. I am convinced there’s a cosmic connection between an umbrella and a man’s manner of walking. I tell you, it’s not a pleasant experience, especially when you pass by your barkada playing tong-its at Noy Tirso’s carenderia.

Do you remember the song that is best known today as the centerpiece of the 1952 musical film “Singin’ in the Rain” in which Gene Kelly danced while splashing through puddles during a rainstorm? It goes like, “I’m singing in the rain/Just singing in the rain/What a glorious feelin’/I’m happy again…”

Well, it’s a lie. You don’t dance during a rainstorm when you’re happy. Or better yet, you are not supposed to be happy during a rainstorm. You worry about the roof falling down on you or kids falling into manholes. And besides, splashing through puddles and getting yourself wet while carrying an umbrella is the most stupid thing to do, unless you’re Gene Kelly.

And while we’re at it, have you ever noticed how easy it is for songwriters to come up with songs about rain? This book I’m reading says there are over 5,000 albums containing at least one song with the word ‘rain’ in their title, just since 1960. The only reason I can think of is that the

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word “rain” rhymes with “pain”. And what song doesn’t in one way or another talk about pain, except Happy Birthday?

And as if there are not enough rain songs in the world these days, an artist named Rihanna, the “good girl gone bad,” comes up with another one. This time, the song is especially written to spite me with its title, “Umbrella.”

Well, you know how the song annoyingly goes, unless you belong to the generation of Gene Kelly… elly… elly… eh… eh… eh… eh…