Originally Published: January 8, 2018 6 a.m.
Have you ever thought about becoming a polar bear? Dear Readers, there are seriously deranged people in other parts of the world that seem to think running half naked into freezing lakes or 39 degree oceans is a whole lot of fun. What gives?
Could life be so dismal and cold in those gray, freezing places that otherwise intelligent people want to become “bares?” Hey, there are quite a few folks who like to engage in this “sport” naked. Yikes!!! No clothes plus icy water?
It must be a pretty dull world to have to become “invigorated” by joining the elite ranks of polar bears. There is an entire set of rules that experienced polar bears have to follow, if they want to survive. A man emailed me to say that he joined in the “fun” when he lived in Wisconsin and once a year, during the first snow after Thanksgiving, at high noon, he would make the trek into the freezing Lake Michigan waters with about a thousand other “enthusiasts.” I asked our local polar bear if he suffered from mental issues. He didn’t seem amused.
Oh, back to the “rules” of survival. You must wear something on your feet if you plan to partake of this sport, because your feet can stick to the ice. Ouch. You need a pair of warm boots waiting for you when you’re done splashing around, otherwise your feet may freeze and fall off before you can walk back to your car. You must practice “mind control” and tell yourself that you are doing this ridiculous thing for a good cause. You must employ self-hypnosis so you can convince yourself that the water is really warm.
I don’t get the concept, but psychologists claim that some “thrill-seekers” need to challenge themselves in almost painful ways in order to add zest and excitement to their lives. Why not just go to the dentist and have a tooth pulled without Novocain? Perhaps walking barefoot through a cholla patch could be the desert equivalent of “polar bears.” We could have an annual ritual where thousands of us run barefoot in the Phoenix desert in mid-July. Now that’s something those polar bears couldn’t imagine.
I think that the cold weather in some parts of the world causes some sort of “brain-freeze.” It numbs the senses, dulls the mind, clouds the judgment and causes people to behave in very odd ways. Like ice fishing. Want a good time? Go out on an icy lake in the dead of winter, with a wind-chill factor of 20 below, cut a hole in the ice and sit on a little chair with a thermos of coffee next to you while you throw a line down the hole. Ugh.
Cold weather folks point out that there are very good things about living in dreary, bitter weather. They claim that there are more couples cuddling, more books read, more delicious homemade meals cooked (I have my doubts), and greater appreciation of sunny days. Oh, maybe so . . . but at least we haven’t lost our collective minds. We lucky folks who live in Arizona all know that we can cook, read a book, cuddle with our loved-one and never have to become a “polar bear” to seek a thrill. Want to “bear-all?” Head to the Northeast. Otherwise, please keep your clothes on and avoid cold water. Or be sure you have a thermos with plenty of whiskey ... I mean coffee, to keep the chill away. Stay warm until next week!
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.