“Is it still spitting out there?” I asked my husband as he walked in the door. It was dark and gray outside and was forecast to rain all day, but I couldn’t tell if it was actually raining at that moment or not.

He shook out his umbrella and dropped it on the floor.

“I don’t like the word, spitting,” he said.

I thought for a moment.

“How about misting?” I asked.

“Nope.”

“Sprinkling?”

“Not so much.”

“Hydrating the ground lightly?” I said, pondering other alternatives.

“Why don’t you just say ‘rain?’” he complained

“Well, the word rain doesn’t really describe the intensity,” I explained. “Is it pouring? Is it coming down in sheets, sideways, torrentially, like a monsoon? Or is it merely spritzing, lightly brushing your face like a slight morning mist? You need to be more specific. Is it a deluge or a drizzle? A spray or a steady stream? A drencher or a drip?”

He shook his head. I suspected he thought I was a lunatic. But without the proper words, how could I really know the state of such things? I was a writer, of course, so what did he expect? That I would just call rain, rain? That would be like saying the dog smelled bad. One generic word just can’t even begin to cover the infinite range of possibilities.

When we were in our house, the amount of rain we were having was actually linked to how bad the dog smelled. If it was pouring, the dog would get soaked, releasing the full potency of his royal smelliness. If it was just spritzing, I could usually get away with just toweling him off and spraying him with Febreeze.

But that was not the issue today. The issue today was that I needed to know the intensity of the rain so I could put on the proper rain gear. Did I need a raincoat or just an umbrella? Could I wear sneakers or did I have to put on my rain boots? More importantly, was it raining hard enough that all the worms were going to come out of the ground and cover the sidewalks and then I’d have to dance around them which is easier in my sneakers than my rain boots.

“Why does this matter?” he asked.

“I need to figure out all my options,” I said. “Don’t you think Noah needed to know if it was just going to sprinkle or if was really going to pour before he started building his ark?”

“Are you building an ark?” he said.

“No, I need to go pick up something to make for dinner.”

“And how long will you be in the rain?”

“Five minutes.”

He sighed. “If you’re only going to be in the rain for five minutes, why do you care how hard it’s precipitating?”

“I just want to make sure I’m prepared for the worst-case scenario.”

“You mean, like a typhoon?” he said.

“EXACTLY!” I shouted.

“I have a better idea,” he said. “Order in.”

You can follow Tracy on Twitter @TracyBeckerman and become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage.