What Boston rain lacks in intensity, it seems determined to make up for in persistence. Even if downpours are few and far between around here, three straight days of halfhearted rain will turn a grassy field into a swamp and a sidewalk into an archipelago of vaguely connected islands. Avoiding pneumonia being the reasonably high priority that it is, after submitting psets on time and a full eight minutes of sleep every night, it only seems intelligent to dress appropriately for the occasional minor flood.
It used to be that if I looked out the window and saw rain, I’d grab an umbrella on the way out the door and be on my merry little way. Of course, considering that Boston is probably windy enough to break the sound barrier standing still, a carelessly opened umbrella will last about as long as a Spock cosplayer at a Star Wars convention. The aerodynamic solution is a waterproof coat or jacket, which I’ve taken to adopting since coming here. For really severe weather, I have a full outfit of bright yellow rain pants and slicker. Not only does it keep the rain off, but it boosts my visibility for Massachusetts drivers and low-flying aircraft. It’s also good for keeping dry on water rides at the amusement park, if you don’t mind the funny looks (which I don’t). Given that most people around this time of year will already be wearing heavy winter coats, though, I suppose it’s not wet clothes that are the issue.
As far as rain-compatible footwear is concerned, it seems like most sneaker manufacturers aren’t designing with wet-weather wear in mind, either because the waterproof parts of the shoe don’t come up high enough, or because the mesh of the toe keeps water out about as well as a pasta strainer made out of cotton candy. Don’t get me wrong, I love my chucks, but they’re not the most water-resistant shoes in the world. Not only is the canvas porous and the grommets on the side a direct avenue for puddle water entry, but I’ve had mine for so long that any more wear, and I suspect they may soon start capillary-actioning water up from the damp ground. I’ve considered buying galoshes, but never really been compelled enough to follow through. At any rate, I have a pair of Scotchgarded hiking boots that do just fine. When navigating a waterlogged campus requires increasing the number of safe puddles until all of the little patches of sidewalk are connected, an inch of waterproofing is plenty. The sauna-like effect that heavy boots have on my toes is a small price to pay in comparison.
Of course, Occam’s razor suggests that if you want to avoid wet socks, you shouldn’t wear socks. There’s something to be said for wearing flip-flops or sandals in rainy conditions. If they’re good enough for the beach or the pool, I guess they’re good enough for a flash flood. Then again, the practicality of flip-flops in near-freezing temperatures depends a great deal on how attached you are to your toes. Personally, I’d rather avoid any conversation where I have to explain why I’m short a few little piggies. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some engineering to do. I’m certain there’s a way to effectively make sneakers wearable in rain, and duct-tape spats are first on my list of possible solutions.