Sunday, January 2, 2011
I did the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge yesterday at Tybee Island with several hundred other thrill seeking morons, including my husband James.
People keep asking “so, what was it like, jumping into the freezing Atlantic Ocean?”
“Uhm, it was cold….and wet, very wet…..and cold. Did I mention that it was cold and wet? That is, until my bottom half sort of lapsed into numbness. There was no tingling sensation like biting into a York Peppermint Pattie. No, nothing that positive.”
For those without cable TV or Internet, including my Amish readers, the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge takes place on beaches throughout the world, where a special breed of people go barreling together into a highly frigid body of water to prove that idiocy can be synchronized.
When I say "special breed of people" I’m referring to those who would bang their heads against a brick wall to prove Newton’s Law of Motion, who’d take a gulp of long expired milk, to see if it’s really sour, those who go bungee jumping without first checking the cord length, anyone who’s ever thought they looked stylish wearing a fanny pack….and all French Canadians.
I’ve never been fond of cold water or New Year’s Day, but I’ve been determined to make 2011 the year of getting out and doing something. What? Anything that doesn’t make me question whether I’m wasting my life folding laundry and watching the cardinals fight over birdseed on my back deck.
The problem here is an age old one. That is…MY age, which feels like an old one. Now that I’m comfortable being 36 and have successfully convinced myself that it’s the new 25 by today’s standards, 37 is lurking around the corner. There’s just something about the number 37 that I don’t like. It’s comprised of two odd digit laid out smack dab in “late-thirties land,” which puts me one year closer to vegetating in a Laz e-Boy with my teeth out, watching reruns of Murder She Wrote and exclaiming how good Angela Lansbury looks at 103.
Because of this, I’ve been spending time daydreaming about alluring adventures while vacuuming the floor, convincing myself that there’s more to my life than the carpool schedule posted on my fridge. Like a modern day housewife Don Quixote, I visualize myself carrying out a multi-million dollar jewelry heist, performing motorcycle stunts in a spherical cage, or being a roller derby champion known for laying the smack down on anyone who gets in my way. I just want to feel, you know….like a bad ass.
Since armed robbery can land you in prison and I have particularly poor balance on wheels, I settled for the Polar Bear Plunge. Yes, I know that paying money to run full speed into freezing water is more Jack Ass than Bad Ass, but, hey, you have to start somewhere. Hundreds of people were doing it. Yes, and they were almost all middle aged or older, a fact I’m choosing to ignore, though I think I saw Bob Barker do a cannonball.
The picture of us all hurdling toward the icy water was reminiscent of the wildebeest stampede in the Lion King…..set on a really cold beach. We plunged in. We got soaked. We shrieked. We shivered. And all the men shrank. I’ve never seen such a dramatic “before and after” as the guy in the blue Speedo. Talk about your empty bag!
Some speedily withdrew from the water as soon as the waves hit their thighs. Others lingered neck-deep over conversation and martinis. After about ten minutes, though, the ocean was once again empty as we all plodded off the beach, soggy and trembling.
As James and I made our way back to the car, I said “well, that was sort of anticlimactic. I don’t feel any younger or cooler. Do you?”
“Nah,” he replied. “Colder, but even less cool than before. At least we got these dandy Polar Bear Plunge t-shirts.”
“Yeah, too bad mine’s a 2-XL. It was all they had left. I can’t even wear it to try and impress people.”
Maybe next week I’ll get out my old roller skates and challenge my friend Jennifer and her competitive workout partner Audrey, to some laps around the pond at the hospital. Hopefully, by then, the book I ordered, Become a Bad Ass by Friday, will have come in the mail. I’m not giving up yet.