Arundel, England -- It's a mob scene in this tiny country village, where thousands of us are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a runner carrying the Olympic torch, and we're all seized by the same passionate thought:
Will this frigging rain EVER stop?
It's no joke. I have been in England for nearly two months, and that's how long the rain has been falling.
Word of honor -- it rains every single day, usually several times a day. You can count on it, like car alarms in Greenwich Village. I'm alternating two pairs of shoes -- a wet pair, and a soaking wet pair. My feet have not been dry since Memorial Day.
My wife Kim, a lifelong Brit, put it this way:
"I swear on my life, I have never seen anything like the weather this summer!" (I had to ask her to say it again, because we were huddled in the car at the time and her voice was drowned out by the bullet-like pounding of raindrops on the hood.)
Interesting thing about my wife, and many other women in London -- they won't leave the house without taking a bottle of water. A quirky habit, considering that your chances of dehydrating around here are about as good as your chances of drowning in the Sahara desert.
Here's a typical summer day in England, 2012:
You get up, and it's cloudy. You figure maybe it's safe to hang laundry outside, but by the time you've pegged your last pair of underpants on the line, it's starting to sprinkle.
"It's just a shower," you tell yourself, and that's what it is, until 20 seconds later, when the sky turns black and the shower morphs into a downpour.
So you pull all your clothes off the line and rush back inside, by which time the sun is shining brightly.
Back to the clothesline? Not so fast! "This could be a trick," you say to yourself, and this is where it gets really interesting -- you've started to think of those clouds as cunning, cruel creatures.
Sure enough, the clouds suddenly smother the sun and just like that, it's raining again.
"You couldn't fool me!" you say out loud with a laugh, and right about then you notice another interesting thing -- you've begun talking to the sky as if it's a schoolyard bully on the other side of the fence.
Talking to the sky. Oh boy.
We're all going nuts. Our suburban neighborhood is full of half-painted fences, half-mown lawns and half-crazy laborers. All outdoor activities have a way of ending abruptly around here.
British weather reports on TV are a riot. All the weatherman can do is stand before the map of England and shrug, blaming the whole mess on a shift in the jet stream over the United Kingdom.
On the Fourth of July I attempted to light a bottle rocket in honor of Independence Day, but was thwarted because the matches were too damp.
The Queen's Jubilee celebration was wetter than an Esther Williams movie -- Google her, youngsters -- and if they didn't have that roof over Center Court at Wimbledon we'd all be watching the final while basting our Thanksgiving turkeys.
And now, the Olympics! My in-laws, Frank and Betty O'Mahony, live near a beautiful country village where the torch is scheduled to come through, so Kim and I join them outside Arundel Castle, along with thousands of men, women and children who've been waiting for hours in a driving, relentless rain.
We crane our necks for a better view. Raindrops bounce off our baseball caps and soak us to the skin. Incredibly, none of us thought to bring an umbrella. Bailey, our chocolate labrador retriever, stands there dripping from muzzle to tail, looking for signs of sanity in any of us.
At last, it happens -- the torch-bearer appears! We glimpse the flame for about three seconds, and then it's gone. History happens in a hurry. We trudge back to the car, the mud sucking at our shoes.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," says my ever-chipper mother-in-law, and instead of responding with a smartass New York reply such as "Let's hope so," I keep my mouth shut -- and it hits me that she's right.
You've got to hand it to the Brits. They have spirit. They get out there. They participate. They don't just stay home and watch it on TV because it's raining.
So now, I can look forward to one day telling my grandchildren that I was there to see the 2012 Olympic flame being carried toward London.
I just hope my feet are dry by then.
Charlie Carillo's novels "God Plays Favorites," "Found Money," "My Ride With Gus" and "Shepherd Avenue" are available on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents. His website is www.charliecarillo.com.
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