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From a Would-Be Penguin's Perspective, the Plunge Is a Blast

All that freezing is for a good cause.

I hadn’t slept much. The fan was set directly in front of me for the night — for training purposes.

My shower was a very cold one — for practice.

In our home 58 is the new 68 — as in degrees — which was helpful in my preparation as well.

The Boy had slept at a friend’s house so Wife and I had to leave a little early to pick him up. We learned shortly after he entered the car that he had not practiced the art of showering — cold or hot. But The Boy is a boy as is any other 13- or 14-year-old boy on the weekend. And just to prove he was serious, he skipped brushing his teeth as well.

Beneath his sweats were his shorts and MudHogs football jersey … because when you are plunging you need to represent.

His first words as he pulled the car door shut were, “Should I go in all the way?”

To which Mom answered, “Heck, yeah. I want you coming back up with a fish between your teeth!”

Of course it was all very funny to Mom/Wife (she gets two names) because she wasn’t on her way to plunge at all. She was going there as the holder of the clothes.

Before moving on I should mention what all the plunging is about in case you are confusing it with a major toilet issue (which brings us back to The Boy and his various smells, but in the spirit of good taste I’ll proceed with the real reason for freezin’).

The held at (and other locations around the state) that mainly benefits athletes of Special Olympics.

The Farmington Valley MudHogs have been involved as an organization for the past three years under the leadership of Coach Tony Sposato. More (or less) on Coach Tony later.

So by raising money you are entitled to take a brief swim with the rest of your crazy friends.

But the parade was first. I got to hold the pole with the helmet-covered basketball and football jersey on top. Wonder Woman was in front of me. She always looked much … uh … taller on TV but was just as beautiful in real life.

Most of the participants were down to their plunging clothes, although I was still in my jacket and gloves. What!? The pole was really cold.

Oh, did I mention how windy it was? It didn’t matter if the temperature was making its way toward the 30s.

Now back to Coach Tony. Apparently he’d given the honor of choosing his plunging apparel to the member of the team that raised the most money. While I don’t know who that person was, I’m going to guess it was one of the moms or someone who liked to see a very well built, middle-aged football coach in a Speedo. Yes, Coach Tony has been doing his sit-ups and skipping the Doritos.

I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d spent much of the past week in front of Mrs. Sposato asking, “Do I look fat in this? Do I look fat in this? No, really, tell me the truth. Do I look fat in this?

Yup! Coach Tony led his team on a cold and very windy day in a very small bathing suit. The effect it had on me was almost immediate. Our next stop of the day was to The Y to renew my membership so I can wear one next year.

So the parade was over and the teams were called one by one to run into the icy water, pray that it didn’t cause any permanent damage, and then sprint back to the heated dressing room (a bunch of tarps with hot air being blown inside) to change.

Our team ran toward the shore. I was walking really fast behind them. They all plunged. I stopped just before my insulated hiking shoes met the water.

Ha! You didn’t really think I was going in, did you? My iPad would have gotten wet and I would have lost half of the notes I took to write this column. And besides, it was really cold out there. You should have seen the pile of ice that had to be chopped away earlier in the morning.

The Boy went in though — didn’t catch a fish in his teeth — and it is debatable whether his head went under or just got wet from all of the splashing.

I’ll tell you what though … now I see the need for those gloves that allow you to type on a touch screen. My fingertips were frozen!

I suspect Coach Tony was having issues with frozen body parts of his own. He ran a victory lap through the adoring crowd and headed into the tarp room to enjoy some blowing hot air.

It’s guys like Coaches Tony, Frank (who called his swim “very nice and refreshing”), Chris, and Justin (among others) who help to teach the kids that grownups and coaches like to be crazy sometimes, too, and it’s fun to be silly and raise money for others.

What I’ll take away from it is something I saw in Coach Tony and other dads of various shapes and sizes (as well as the Special Olympic athletes themselves) who posed for cameras and landed shirtless in the frigid flaps of the lake: Feel comfortable in your own skin — it’s the only skin you have (even if it’s blue and in a stage of pre-frostbite).

Christina DeFranco February 03, 2012 at 01:58 PM
very nice ending...the "be comfortable in your own skin"... very nice piece Ron!!! loved it.... and yes, Coach Tony was clearly on the same "awards season diet" all the celebs are on this time of year! I'm starting mine on Monday!!!! (after the patriots win:) )
Ron Goralski February 03, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I see a typo in your comment Christina. The next-to-the-last word should be GIANTS.
Eileen McCaffrey Frattali February 04, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Great article and GREAT cause!! I personally would opt to be the "holder of clothes", I mean come on, you need us otherwise the clothes would get dirty and wet :))
Ron Goralski February 04, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Or at least the holder of the iPad. Now if only I had the special gloves.

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