Before R takes the plunge, he spends a few minutes in his car with the heat blasting getting psyched. Any technique that could help him face the shock of diving into the frigid ocean waters in January is worth trying, R reasons, and so he tries to get “centered”. He’s never done anything like this before and is wired to out right reject people, ideas or trends that are fruity. After all, R’s Dad and Granddad, both proud members of the Coney Island Polar Bears, would down a few shots of whisky or rye depending on the year and jump right in. But a guy he meet at last night’s New Year’s Eve bash down at McDonalds, the pub on the corner with the stink piss side door, you know the one, wouldn’t let up about it. R even took notes, cuz the truth is he has come to dread the New Year’s Day swims. He takes out the slip of paper and follows the instructions to the letter. He pictures a hot summer day where the purple flowers, the ones with the pretty yellow insides are in full bloom. He pictures honeybees diving in and out of each cup. The warm sun on his face. Sweat forms around the folds of his neck and runs down the side of an icy cold beer. His phone sounds an alarm. He jolts awake, thinking maybe I fell asleep. In his arctic wet suit (an accommodation both Dad and Granddad would have laughed at) R faces the water. Behind him is the cheering crowd of friends. With the image of the purple flower (what was its name?) radiating heat, he jumps in and screams with the shock of it. Poppies. That is his first thought as he bubbles up for air knowing that the worst is behind him. Afterwards, after sensation has returned to his cheeks and toes, he feels OK. Relieved for sure. But also confused, wondering what exactly was this new “centering” technique supposed to do for him? The extreme cold wasn’t any warmer, that’s for sure.