The Polar Bear Plunge
I am now famous, very famous. How did I accomplish this meteoric rise to stardom? I will have to backtrack about a year to give you the full story on how it all started.
Last December, during the course of casual conversation, it was discovered that Jason’s brother Jeremy and our friend Lauren both had aspirations of participating in a polar plunge. For those of you not familiar with the concept of a polar plunge it basically entails jumping into a nearly frozen body of water in the middle of winter sometimes to benefit a charity and sometimes just to say you did. Because Jeremy and Lauren were both interested in plunging, and Jason seemed hip on the idea as well, it was decided that they should all plunge together. I had never before considered participating in such a chilly activity so I only halfheartedly agreed to maybe do it with them.
Lauren found an upcoming local plunge that they could all freeze themselves in, an annual event, known as the Polar Bear Plunge, taking place at noon on New Year’s Day at a pond in Springville. The boys talked big but when it came time to commit they faltered. Lauren, who is obviously tougher than those weaklings, ended up doing it without them.
Although I had been wishy-washy about participating in the plunge last year, this year, after some contemplation, I was ready to jump in-metaphorically and literally. Since Lauren had enjoyed this event so much last year she wanted to do it again and I told her that with or without my husband I was in. Jason, perceiving that the gauntlet had been thrown to him, reluctantly decided to be a participant as well. We also found another friend, Jacob, with enough guts or stupidity to join us.
I must admit that even though I was bound and determined to do the plunge I was a little apprehensive about it. A super cold front settled over Utah a few days before the event and temperatures were only predicted to reach a high of about 17 degrees Fahrenheit on New Year’s Day; this did not help to ease my anxiety. I got myself pretty worked up about it all and the night before the event I had dreams that resembled the last scene in Titanic, minus the door.
The plunge turned out to be a lot less miserable and much more enjoyable than I had envisioned but we did encounter a few unexpected hurdles. We jumpers were mistakenly given a premature countdown so after we all had hurried and stripped down to our swimsuits we had to wait around for a few more minutes in the 12 degree winter air for the real countdown to begin. Brrr! But even though we were standing on the snowy banks of a frigid pond wearing practically nothing but our skimpies we were all smiling and joking around. It’s hard not to smile when you are doing something so ridiculous even if you can’t feel your feet.
When we finally did get the go-ahead to jump into the water Jacob rashly bolted in right on top of some ice and then bolted out again so quickly the rest of us hadn’t even had a chance to get wet yet. His rapid descent into ice infested waters resulted in a number of painful looking cuts on one of his calves. But on the upside, he was too frozen to feel the hurt and didn’t even notice that he was bleeding for a while. Jason, unlike Jacob, took his sweet time getting into the water and then refused to get wet above his bellybutton; that was the limit of his courage. He says it was the coldest water he has ever felt in his life. Lauren and I vowed to be braver than my hubby and we took a big dip simultaneously. I made it up to my shoulders while Lauren was bolder and covered all but the top of her head with the glacial waters.
I anticipated that emerging sopping wet from the pond into the below freezing air would be the worst part of the experience but it actually wasn’t too bad. There was a pleasant fire in a pit near the water’s shore that helped chase the chills away. My toes had the hardest time warming back up; they were painfully frozen for at least half an hour after the plunge. When Jason and I got home we both hopped right into hot showers. It was then that we realized just how cold we actually were; our skin itched and burned as it returned to normal temperatures.
So what does my newfound fame have to do with the experience I just relayed? The plunge was covered by newspapers and, unknown to me at the time, the local news. Although I would estimate that there were probably about 20-30 people at the plunge, a clip of me and Lauren dipping ended up on the nightly news. Additionally, a close-up of me was found in the newspaper the next day. Yup, I’m famous. Don’t be jealous just because you aren’t a masochistic celebrity like me.