Rainbows suck. Those beautiful coloured arches in the sky, a gesture as if they wanted to give shelter to the earth and its inhabitants that huddle underneath them – they really suck.

I remember driving though a valley in the Alps that seemed to be held together from both sides of the mountain-range by a series of rainbows, and as we proceeded along the road new and ever more exciting multicoloured rainbows were greeting us.

Symbols of hope. Ankle charms of the gods. Those rainbows were meant to mean hope. At least that’s what I had learned. Not totally sure if superstition would really follow its crazy rules, I decided to come up with a couple of wishes anyway. Just to be on the safe side. You never know if you might miss the opportunity to gamble high on your luck.

I made a few wishes, the usual indifferent, general stuff: luck, love, well-being. The inverted smile of God in the sky seemed to lure us along our path as we continued driving.

Rainbows have to represent all sorts of good stuff: peace, hope, happiness, coalitions of differences. Rainbows are a convenient metaphor for too many positive things.

But the cruel and hard work of splintering a beam of light through a prism into some silly colours is actually done by tiny, humble raindrops. They are the ones who do the dirty mining work of excavating colour from a seemingly colourless, aimless beam of light. Those poor raindrops. Nobody ever acknowledges their hard work. Only the result, the rainbow, is being admired. Nobody ever exclaims: »Oh! What a gorgeous flock of rain droplets, what a great thing that they gather right here right now in order to form that silly hippie-coloured arch!« No. The facilitators are easily overlooked.

Even worse, the fate of the rainbow reminds me of the fate of the moon. A metaphorically exploited astrological partner created straight from the rib of planet earth. Like celebrities of celestial boredom, rainbow and moon alike have to serve as projection screens for all kinds of romantic stuff. Like people adoring Madonna for her glamourous lifestyle. Dreaming about her makes her feel so close.

Just like make-up artists, personal managers, assistants, style-advisors and composers do the work of putting colour onto a famous person, millions of raindrops create rainbows in a rather similar fashion. Rain should have a trade union to represent its rights.

By the way, making all those wishes didn’t help. On the contrary. Things got worse. And ever since I never really liked rainbows.

green rain (newscientist.com)
red rain (wikipedia)
a rabbi on rain (rutgers.edu)


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