Five Uses for Your Umbrella Other Than Rain

It's been a fairly dry week around Houston and, while the rain should return soon enough, I got to thinking about what to do with the umbrella that I constantly keep with me in the summer or, as I normally like to call it, monsoon season. The truth is, a nice umbrella can be used for quite a few things, so it is worth keeping it around in the car with you.

Plus, you never know in Houston when it is going to just pour down rain. Then that weird thing you've been carrying around comes in damn handy. Failing that, here are some other options.

5. Blocking the sun If you are pasty like me, you do whatever you can to keep from getting skin cancer and, even worse, going from a delicate shade of off-white to one giant freckle. They even make umbrellas now that have excellent UV protection, which means you don't have to worry about sunscreen and you'll look fabulous.

4. Decoration One way to really change the dynamic of a room -- especially if you have high ceilings -- is to buy a dozen or so different-looking umbrellas and string them up from the rafters. You get a funky look and, if you use simple hooks, you can grab one on the way out the door and every day have a new, funky-fly-fresh look...as the kids like to say (in the '90s, anyway).

3. Poking stick Anyone remember that episode of Friends where the gang was worried the fat, naked guy across the alley might be dead, so they fashioned a poking stick and poked him with it? Anyone? Well, with an umbrella, you have your own poking stick to carry around and check people on the train or at work to see if they are still breathing. They will thank you for it. 2. Weapon Nothing scares the holy hell out of a would-be attacker like the sight of a Hello Kitty umbrella. It's fact. Look it up. And if you want to get really deadly, just check out the antics of the Penguin from Batman. Dude had daggers and toxic gas and stuff coming out of the end of his umbrella.

1. Pimp cane Now, it has to be the right umbrella. It can't be one of those compact jobs and it can't be some weird pattern or design. Just get you a red or gold (yes, the shiny kind) umbrella with a wooden tip and stroll down the avenue like pimp ass Huggy Bear. Bow chicka bow wow.

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