Taking the Plunge

Something came over me last Friday and I texted my friend Tom.

He’s been starting off the year with the Lake George Polar Plunge for more than a decade and he’s been after me to join him for a while. I’d never quite managed to pull it together, but this year would be different.

So — why start during a cold snap that’s made the past few weeks downright miserable? Some things can’t be explained, and this is one of them.

It was quite a sight as people started gathering on the beach: they were a mix of young and old, men and women all dressed more for an ice fishing shanty than a day at the beach. There a lot of energy in the air , very much like what you feel before a road race. But this was no 5K. As we stood on the shore watching the volunteers slide big sheets of ice away from the waterfront, some of the plungers started to wonder if they’s started 2018 by making a very bad decision.

Too late.

I didn’t expect a walk in the park; a quick glance at my Google search history will reveal various combinations of the terms “cold,” “freezing water,” “shock,” “hypothermia” and “heart attacks.”

As the mintues ticked down, the clothes started coming off. Soon I was standing in my bathing suit, water shoes, gloves and a knit cap. There were jokes that my body hair would keep me warm. If only.

When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. When my time came I stormed into the water and went out as far as the safety crew in their cold water suits . It wasn’t terribly deep, so I crouched a bit to bring the water up to my chin. At first it wasn’t so bad — hell, the water was 30 degrees warmer than the air — but it didn’t take long for a weird combination of numbness and burning to begin taking hold of my legs. Time to get out.

Once in dry clothes I felt pretty great, deeply refreshed and oddly renewed.
I thought my friend Tom was pulling my leg when he went on about cleansing away the old year and prparing for the one to come, but he wasn’t kidding. And my penis didn’t break off, so that’s also a big plus.


This whole Bluetooth earpiece thing is sort of freaking me out. The problem? I’m having a trouble figuring out who’s nuts and who is not.

Wait, I’m sorry, sorry; “nuts” is a term that’s politically incorrect these days — in fact, I once knew a news anchor who would change my copy when I used that word. For example, I would never get away with writing, “People are going nuts for the new Trader Joe’s.” Similarly, “crazy” was also forbidden from promo scripts. And “wackadoodle” would have been completely off limits.

Anyway, part of the problem is that I work in downtown Albany, where it’s not at all unusual to encounter people who are actually talking to themselves. When you have that many folks talking to themselves because they can’t help it mixed in with another large group of people who think it’s cool to have a loud conversation over their Bluetooth earpiece, chaos ensues.

For example, the other day there was a guy at the corner of State and Pearl going on loudly about Price Chopper Advantage cards.

“Price Chopper! Advantage Card. Gas savings!”

I have no idea if I was listening to one half of a phone conversation or someone ranting about saving money on gas. I guess it could have been both.