Urban Idiots™ Guide to Outdoor Umbrellas

As a young, recently married, couple living in a swanky townhome built in the 60s, buy a bright white canvas umbrella from Pottery Barn. The reason you buy a bright white one is because you just returned from Miami where you fell in love with the Delano Hotel and you now want to recreate their environment as close as possible. Also plant white flowers in enormous planters by your front door.

Move to the suburbs.

Keep leaving your bright white umbrella open and rocking from side to side on your two-story deck. Go to work, realize you left your umbrella outside, spend the entire day worrying about the umbrella. Come home to discover that the white canvas has been bombarded by purple berry bird poop. Realize that the berries come from the recently planted tree in front of your house.

Have a baby.

One morning, while feeding the baby, watch your white umbrella (that you still forget to hide from the elements when not using) get plucked out of the middle of the heavy tile and concrete table and base, blown across  and over the deck, and then loudly smashed into pieces on your lawn by a gust of wind that was predicted by Weather Channel the night before. Put baby into enormous play yard and go pick up the umbrella pieces and the no longer bright white canvas off your lawn. Cry and curse.

March to Pottery Barn, designer stroller and all, and discover that in the time you spent neglecting your umbrella Pottery Barn has gone rustic and no longer carries a bright white canopy. And that the prices have gone up. Spend the rest of summer without an umbrella.

Spend yet another summer without an umbrella because of your inability to realize that you will not be able to turn a suburban back yard into a Delano Hotel. Your child is now walking at this point and wants to play outdoors. Limit your outdoor time to couple of hours a day when the deck is covered in loose shade from the massive maple trees.

One Sunday in early fall, brave a family visit to Crate and Barrel with your now walking and talking child, and discover an outdoor furniture floor sample sale. Get super excited over a large round umbrella that is very well priced and whose canopy is striped in sage, teal, black, tan, brown, and an occasional aubergine. Manage to somehow fit the umbrella into your SUV and not decapitate anyone.

Happily enjoy umbrella for the following three summers. Sometimes forget to put it away, then run outside in the rain and wrestle with it. Find that wasps like to nest in the pole holes. Spray with Raid and enjoy the Raid fragrance for months to come.

One morning, get woken up by a large thud from the outside. Go investigate in your robe and discover that umbrella (which was left open the night before) has once again been turned over. Discover that it is also blocking the door to the deck, so the only way to get to the problem is to run out the front door and around the house. While still wearing a robe. Watch the umbrella teeter on the edge of the railing and then finally fly off and smash into the ground while contemplating your plan of rescue. Cry and curse again. Run outside, the door is now free, and save the canopy remembering that Crate and Barrel sells canopies and frames separately just for this purpose. Wait to buy the frame until next year because summer is almost over.

Buy an outdoor rug, color coordinating it with the tans and browns of your umbrella canopy.

Buy a new frame. Spend 30 minutes on 4th of July explaining that you want just the eucalyptus frame, not the stand and not the whole umbrella. Opt for store pickup to save on shipping. Return in a week (wearing a dress) as discussed and spend another 30 minutes finding out if your frame was on the truck that just delivered. Reverse your car into customer pickup and rearrange your car seats to fit the frame in. When the guy shows you the box, realize that it is 12 feet long and your car is not. Have a panic. Become friends with the stockroom guy as you both wrestle the frame out of the box. Slide the umbrella into the car, with its top touching the windshield and the bottom just half an inch short of trunk's gate. Drive home very slowly as your precious cargo slightly rolls from side to side on every turn. Ask your child, who's slightly amused by the whole thing and is sitting next to the umbrella, to hold it in place. Deliver it home in one piece and realize that you might be missing a topper. Find a voicemail from Crate and Barrel alerting you that they discovered the topper in the box and it is on hold. Send your other half to pick it up.

Find the canopy from last year that wintered inside a white garbage bag with red handles inside a garage cabinet. Leave it behind the frame for a couple of days because there is no time to stretch it on right away. The kitchen garbage is being tossed out in a white bag with orange handles.

Discover that the white garbage bag with red handles that contains the canopy is missing. Go garbage can diving. Find nothing but white bags with orange handles. Canopy's gone. Earn more wrinkles by madly frowning while stomping up to the office to order a new canopy. Find that every canopy that might remotely suit your taste is backordered. Settle on chili pepper red because it's the only one with a decent delivery date. Once again opt for store pickup to save on ridiculously high shipping cost. Settle in for a long two week wait. Watch the Weather Channel and see that the temperature this week will raise well above 90s. Frown some more and long for the cooling shade of an outdoor umbrella.

The Delano Hotel, Miami Beach