Umbrella Theory


Posted by A is for Angie

My wife and I have started to use a term we’ve developed called “Umbrella Theory.” It’s almost a synonym of “Reverse Jinx,” but there’s more to it than that.

The Reverse Jinx

By my definition, to jinx means to “foredoom to failure or misfortune by mentioning the possibility of an unlikely catastrophe.” A simple example would be saying “we are on target to reach our destination on time unless we meet stopped traffic at 2 in the morning.” If you believe in jinxes, you believe that mentioning that statement ensures you will “meet stopped traffic at 2 in the morning.” It follows that superstitious folks sometimes strategically mention the opposite outcome in hopes to influence an unlikely event in their favor. Stating publicly “the Miami Heat are a lock to win their 24th consecutive game tonight” is a reverse jinx if the orator also bets against the Miami Heat. If reverse jinxes worked, I would probably walk out my front door stating “It’s going to rain today,” and I would get to enjoy dry weather for all time.

The Umbrella Theory

“Umbrella Theory” has a special meaning in the parlance of our household. It stems from the experience that it seems like it never rains when we’ve gone through the trouble to bring an umbrella with us.

Let me walk you through a sample dialog:

Me: Is it supposed to rain today when we’re at the game?

My Wife: I heard it’s a possibility.

Me: Should I take an umbrella?

My Wife: “Umbrella Theory.” Just take it.

What inevitably follows is I take the umbrella with me and the weather stays clear. I simply have to endure the small burden of carrying the umbrella to be prepared, to ensure the negative event I’m preparing for doesn’t even happen.

What We Have Learned

The Umbrella Theory is admittedly silly. Still, it can be a useful guide in my family’s decision making process. When worrying about what to pack or how to prepare for something, the theory reminds us to prepare for the “Worst” if the preparations are relatively easy. Also, it is important to decide quickly. There is no reason to deliberate with the Umbrella Theory. Time spent determining whether preparation is necessary can just be spent on the actual preparations.

I hope this terminology catches on in your household. May you carry an umbrella with you always!