I’m taking the ‘plunge’

We all have our flaws and weaknesses.
Every individual on the planet has them—those wonderful little quirks in our personalities that provide us with the character that makes us interesting.
Some people are absent-minded, some are chronically late, and others have a penchant for stating the obvious. Still others lack any semblance of tact.
The list is endless.
My own wonderful little personality hiccup is a tendency to let my mouth get ahead of my brain.
I think this trait is the single biggest reason I went into print media. The great thing about written words is that they always can be deleted before anyone else has a chance to read them.
It’s a luxury not afforded my colleagues in radio or television.
When I first told friends I was going back to school to become a journalist, several of them encouraged me to go the broadcast route so that I might one day become a play-by-play announcer.
They reasoned I had a pretty solid handle on a diverse number of sports and, therefore, might be interesting to listen to.
I thought about it briefly and quickly came to the conclusion that everything would be fine until something crazy happened—for example, a player spit in another player’s face, a fan got a little too unruly at a game, or an athlete said something tremendously stupid.
I had visions of me saying something equally silly in the heat of the moment before my brain could catch up to my mouth. The prospect of being fired and remembered as the crazy announcer who let his mouth run a little too freely didn’t appeal.
No, it was definitely going to be print journalism for me.
But while I’ve managed to limit the damage my free-wheeling mouth can do in my professional life, it remains a problem in my personal life.
The most recent example occurred two weeks ago at La Place Rendez-Vous. I was enjoying some wings with friends when the conversation swung around to the upcoming “Polar Plunge” into Rainy Lake on New Year’s Day.
Intrigued, I asked what the event entailed and was informed that a group of hearty souls were collecting pledges in support of the Voyageur Lions Club of Fort Frances.
Without thinking, I blurted out that it sounded like fun and that I would like to give it a try some time. I then went back to munching on my wings.
I’d completely forgotten about the conversation the next day until my friend, Jayne’s TLC hairstylist Shari Humphrey, arrived on my doorstep clutching a pledge sheet for me. It seems the lovely and talented Ms. Humphrey had taken me at my word and signed me up for the event.
I explained to Shari that unless she could somehow warm Rainy Lake to something approximating the temperature of the waters found in the Caribbean, I wasn’t jumping.
She just nodded, left the forms on the table, and departed.
I thought I’d won the battle.
Imagine my surprise when, a week-and-a-half later, a “Polar Plunge” press release—containing none other than my name—crossed my desk. Apparently underneath Shari’s lovely smile lies the stubbornness of a mule.
I was defeated. And worse yet, I was faced with some problems.
Strangely, the most pressing problem that came to mind centered around what I was going to wear.
Times publisher Jim Cumming mentioned that less is more when it comes to the “Polar Plunge.” He explained the science of hypothermia to me and mentioned that the less clothes I wore, the easier it would be to warm up again after I got out.
There are a couple of problems with this line of thought:
1. I am fat and hairy
I’m told this is a family event and I don’t want to make any children cry. I also don’t want to be mistaken for a sasquatch and get shot at by a hunter looking for the ultimate wall-hanging.
2. The bar is set too high
The very attractive Jenni Condon represented the Times at the “Polar Plunge” last Jan. 1 and jumped in a bikini. I feel like a lowly minor league pitcher trying to outduel a Hall of Famer on the mound.
It’s not going to happen.
I think the smart thing to do is to try and find some funny costume and jump in that. I think everyone would be happiest that way.
If anyone has any fun ideas as to what I can dress up as, please e-mail me at the address below.
Also, I’ve been diligently collecting pledges for the event. If anyone would like to donate a few bucks, it’d be greatly appreciated. I have a sheet at the Times that can be filled out, or I can be reached by phone or e-mail.
Hopefully by this Monday, I’ll be able to hand over a good chunk of change.
Until then, I’m going to prepare for the event by filling the tub at home with ice and sitting in it while listening to Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly.”
Nothing like listening to crappy 1980s guitar rock when you’re freezing to death.
acruickshank@fortfrances.com

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