The new year is just the around the corner, so naturally I was invited to join the Polar Bear Plunge. For you landlubbers who are fortunate enough to be unaware of this torture, the plunge is an annual winter event where otherwise seemingly normal people jump into the frigid ocean waters. Then their brain cells freeze over so that next year, when someone says, “Hey! It’s twenty below! Grab your swimsuit and take the plunge!”, they willingly go along.
I politely declined the invitation to join in this year’s frigid festivities. My idea of a plunge is jumping into a hot Jacuzzi or the tropical waters of the Caribbean. I also have no desire to emulate the polar bear.
No animal lives farther north than the polar bear. They may look cute and cuddly, but polar bears are fierce animals who prowl the Arctic wilderness, searching for seals, their main prey. They will then grab the seals right out of their breathing holes in the ice. Yes, you know those adorable aquarium seals who perform tricks to amaze and entertain us? The polar bears have another nickname for them: Dinner.
Polar bears would be very amused by watching humans take the plunge. For one thing, the bears have thick fur which is actually made out of clear, hollow tubes. Each hollow hair can trap the sun’s infrared heat and keep the bear toasty warm and comfortable. This fur is also oily and water-repellent. The bears can easily shake free of water and any ice that may form after swimming.
So humans wearing Speedos and bikinis call themselves “polar bears” and go plunging into the icy waters. And guess what? They get wet and extremely cold. Go figure.
Meanwhile, the real polar bears, like some sort of Arctic superheroes, are impervious to both the wet and the cold. Maybe the name of the event should be changed to represent a timid animal who can actually get wet and cold. The Puppy Plunge.
Or another idea would be to change the event altogether. One positive aspect of the Polar Bear Plunge is that it is usually held to benefit charities. Now all we need are generous people who want to do something brave in a warm climate to help others.
Hang gliding in Costa Rica. Snorkeling in the Coral Reef. Bungee jumping in Cabo San Lucas. The possibilities are endless, and there are plenty of options that could involve bravery without hypothermia.