“Most women complain they cannot take cold baths. Not because of ill health, but because the shock of the cold water is too much for them. I have a way of getting into my cold bath that overcomes the shock . . .I grasp the sides of the tub and lower my body into the water so that the base of my spine touches the water first. Then I lower the upper parts of my body until the water touches the base of my brain, at the same time splashing my chest and throat. Then I let my feet down and am wet all over” Edna Hopper Wallace, “My Secret of Youth and Beauty” (1925)
I’ve been dreading this one all week. My apartment doesn’t have a bathtub, so I had to wait until I was in a hotel to try this one out. A hotel, I might add, in Maine. In January.
When I was a kid, my sister Hilary, our friend Lando and I used to do Polar Bear Jumps at the Hidden Lake girl scout camp in the Adirondacks We’d get up at 6 a.m, sing a Polar Bear song, then jump into a freezing cold mountain lake and swim until our lips turned blue. Maybe three summers worth of that explains why, as I edge up on 30, I still occasionally get carded for R-rated movies.
Matthew, my assistant/writing partner/BFF, helped fill my bathtub my hotel ice and cold water. I followed Edna’s instructions carefully, and ten seconds later was screaming “TAKE THE PICTURE TAKE THE PICTURE TAKE THE PICTURE!!!!!”
I have never been so cold in my entire life. I don’t care what Edna said, easing my body–no matter what part first–into a bathtub filled with ice water cannot be not-shocking. My core temperature immediately dropped to absolute zero. I felt like my flesh was being scraped off with a vegetable peeler. I catapulted out of the tub, grabbed a towel and stood shivering in the elevator until I could get to the hot tub, where I shivered for a good two minutes until my body temperature rose back up to just above freezing.
On the plus side, Matthew did say I had a nice glow in my cheeks. I thanked him through chattering teeth.