I am beginning to believe it never rains in Malibu. I’ve been here for 18 months, and I can’t remember any precipitation I would refer to as rain.
Of course, we have to define what constitutes rain. Where I come from, New Jersey, nobody has to explain what rain is. You go outside and, if you don’t have an umbrella, you get sopping wet. You can take your clothes off, wring them, and fill a bathtub with the water.
Here in Malibu things are a bit more complicated. A few weeks ago I woke up to what I thought was rain. My balcony was wet, as was my car. I was actually thrilled by the very novelty of it all. I walked outside to get my newspaper, and I felt a few modest drops of something which if not rain, certainly resembled it. My newspaper’s wrapping was also wet.
When I went that morning to the Optimists’ pancake breakfast at the Malibu Arts Festival, Karen Weiss sat down at my table. I told her how excited I was by the rain. She quickly corrected me, “That was no rain,” she explained, “that was a marine layer.”
Here I am in my eighth decade on the planet and apparently don’t even know the difference between rain and a marine layer. I asked Karen to explain how I will ever know when it actually rains. “When you have to leave the tennis court, it’s rain,” she clarified. This quite frankly was of no help since I haven’t played tennis in over 50 years.
“How do you know if you’re not a tennis player?” I persisted. And then Karen gave me an answer I could understand, “If the intermittent wiper in your car is not enough, it’s rain,” she explained definitively.
Based on Karen’s definition, what I experienced was not rain after all, and so the song’s title remains on point, “It never rains in Southern California.”