There are the sulkers and the stoics, the melancholy and the merry, the realists and the romantics. And the rain that has dribbled slowly and relentlessly onto Washington for five bleak days this week finally brought them all out.
Witness this. Loeb's Restaurant downtown yesterday, and lawyer Martha Roadstrum gazes dreamy-eyed over a deli sandwich and waxes poetic on the whole soggy mess. "The rain makes it so cozy, so much fun to cuddle up indoors, kind of romantic and mellow," she sighed. "And outdoors, I love to walk in the rain when it's all misty and dewy."
Over at the next table, the mellow mist was not so popular. "I'm blue," said Deborah Berkowitz. "I was just in Los Angeles, where it rained for three days and I was locked inside the hotel. And then I come back here to all this."
But Berkowitz can take heart. Sunshine, according to the National Weather Service, is set to break through today, ushered in by a cold front that will mean cool nights and sunny, pleasant days through the weekend.
It's about time. Since 2 a.m. Sunday nearly 2.2 inches of rain -- about five times more than normal for this time of year -- had fallen on the Washington area, according to the weather service.
That helped make up for a dry spring and summer that began with the driest April on record and left the area 20 percent below the normal rainfall for the year, according to forecaster Bob Oszajca. As of yesterday, the Washington area was only 5 percent below normal for the year, he said.
But for those who don't keep statistics, the rain held other meanings.
"Everything just gets jammed up," said officer Gary Piatt of the D.C. police traffic division. "People panic. They don't leave enough room to stop. Yesterday, it seemed like one fender bender after another."
"It's terrible, the pits," said Glen Burke, manager of the Fairfax Car Wash in Fairfax City, who said business is not exactly hopping on a week like this.
D.C. psychiatrist Ralph Wittenberg said research has shown that "weather and light are very much connected with mood. In northern climes, there is a much higher rate of depression because of reduced daylight." And his clinical reading of the week at hand? "Forget it," said Wittenberg.
Still, it all depended on your vantage point.
Gary Kelly, bartender at the Old Ebbitt Grill at 675 15th St. NW, said bar tabs are up, as "the yuppies," who play golf and tennis and jog in good weather, "revert back to their fraternity days and start drinking."
Thomas Perakos, chief executive officer of the Circle theater chain, was gleeful: "During inclement weather, attendance at our theaters increases by as much as 20 percent."
Civil rights lawyer Ann Macrory said jogging in the soft rain the past few days gave her a feeling "of peace and privacy." And her colleague Richard Seymour said the weather's "terrific -- the best possible excuse to avoid mowing the lawn or washing the car."
Teacher Carolyn Lawlor, at the Burgundy Farm Country Day School, in Alexandria, who took her 5- and 6-year-olds on a field trip to a pumpkin patch yesterday, reported, "When everyone was saying it's raining and drizzling and muddy, we went and had a great time."
For John Cunningham, the rain was a chance to note that "most people are sissies around here about the weather. Two inches of snow and you'd think it was a nuclear attack . . . . People in Washington just don't know what bad weather really is."
And do those who predict and measure the weather get depressed over five gray, soggy days? "I don't know, hold on a minute," said forecaster Oszajca, ever the scientist. "I took a poll," he said, after coming back on the line moments later. "No, not really.