What the heck was I thinking?
That’s what I’m wondering as I sit with a friend on a bench made of ice, surrounded by sculptures made of ice, drinking cocktails from glasses made of ice, in a bar where said ice has no chance of melting because the temperature is 21 degrees.
Despite the scintillating conversation, we are not having fun at Frost Ice Bar, a novelty spot on the Greenway.
Our thinly gloved hands go from numb to stinging to ringing. There is no reliable evidence that our toes still exist. As our lips turn blue, it gets hard to talk, and we are in danger of drooling fire-red libations all over our fur-trimmed, Frost-issued ponchos.
Is the couple whose lips are locked for our entire early evening visit in the throes of passion or just welded together, tongue-to-flagpole style? Hard to say for sure. My fellow shiverer bites a giant chunk off her (now-empty) glass, just to see if she can. So far, this is the highlight of our night.
And yet, all around us in this blue-lit walk-in freezer, a few dozen revelers are swaying and bobbing to the music (possibly in an effort to stave off frostbite). They have handed over their $15 entry fees and their $13 per cocktail, and they are happy.
For some of them, clearly in the midst of a multibar odyssey, this frigid joy is alcohol-enhanced. Others seem unaffected by the chill and the drinks, their fun genuine.
Get me out of this masochist’s paradise. If I want to feel cold, I can do it for free. I’ve been feeling it, for far longer than is acceptable. It seems like years since winter began jabbing its icy fingers between my bones. My skin has taken on a deathly pallor. My shoulders have been hunched for so long I’m a walking apostrophe.
I’m not usually such a wimp. Winter is winter. It gets chilly. But this one has seemed especially rough.
Meteorologist Mark Paquette assures me I am not imagining it.
“You are not imagining it,” says the AccuWeather.com oracle. “It has been much colder than average, not one of the snowiest of all time, but pretty brutal.”
It all started indecently early: Temperatures in the 30s were distressingly frequent in November, when averages were two degrees below normal. The jet stream kept us there, along with the frozen-over Great Lakes and winds from Siberia arriving via the North Pole.
OK that’s plenty now, thanks very much.
Just as I was typing those words, a colleague read Thursday’s forecast aloud. Prepare for ice pellets and snow, says Weather Underground. The high will be 26 degrees.
Ice pellets? Aw, come on!
They won’t keep the lunatics from going to Frost, though. Folks there told me the bar, which opened in September, draws people even in the worst weather. During February vacation, 1,000 people, including children (welcome for mocktails before 4:30 p.m.), visited on a day when the temperature didn’t make it out of the 30s.
What motivates these freaks?
“I like the cold weather for the most part,” said Dwane, a Dorchester man who was celebrating a birthday there Tuesday night. “Whenever something is temporary, you can endure it. We know spring is coming soon.”
Do we, Dwane? Do we really?
“I’m not intimidated,” said Smriti Mishra, who showed up with four colleagues as game as she was. “I didn’t think the winter was that bad.”
Besides, she added, “We’ll leave, and it will seem warmer outside.”
A blanket would work, too.
“I had withdrawal because it was so cold for so long, and today is so warm,” joked Sheryl, from Shrewsbury. (It was in the 40s.)
“We’re used to the cold,” added her friend.
So, how long did they last in there?
“Ten minutes,” she said.
Finally, a little sanity.
Just in time for today’s crazy-making re-freeze.