The Taser sucked because it was five long seconds of bone-shuddering pain, but you know what? The elf costume was somehow worse. The elf costume was three hours in tights, curly shoes and eye makeup. Three hours of pointing and laughing at the mall and the realization that you’re probably ruining Christmas for a hundred kids.

“No, mommy! Don’t make me talk to the creepy elf lady! I don’t need presents for Christmas this year!”

If you really want to punish somebody, dress them up as a effeminate elf and then jolt him with 50,000 volts at the mall. That way, he gets the pain as well as the snickering girls which, let’s face it, hurts just as much as all those shards of electricity.

Dressing up as Uncle Sam on Tax Day wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the ill-timed house fire. Before that, I was just hanging around the Post Office, doing my best Apollo Creed, “I want you!” thing for all those harried people going in to pay their alleged taxes.

Then the scanner squawked. House fire off Webster Street in Lewiston. Fully involved. No time to put on street clothes if you’re a reporter who covers things like house fires. I had to head to the scene, on my motorcycle, dressed in red, white and blue that trailed out behind me like the tail of a kite. Lost the big top hat but later found it at the side of the road. Which is a pretty good tip, when you get right down to it. Keep your valuables in an Uncle Sam hat, people. Apparently, nobody will steal it.

Jumping into the ocean on New Year’s Eve was kind of stupid, but you know? It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. The water is so cold, it bites you like the jaws of a shark (and frankly, I was more worried about sharks than the cold, as I am any time I go into the ocean).

There’s that initial sting and an “OH MY GOD WHAT AM I DOING??” moment and then it’s over. Your body is numb and some parts are a nice shade of blue. Some parts go away altogether and you won’t see them again until spring. And good riddance to them, frankly.

The real pain from a polar bear plunge comes roughly an hour later when your body begins to thaw. You’re sitting quietly, a contemplative block of ice, and privately patting yourself on the back for the heroic feat. Then your skin starts to tingle. Then blue pieces of you start to descend again and they are mad about what you did. The shivering starts and won’t stop, no matter how high you crank the heat. For the rest of the day, you will shiver like a heroin addict going cold turkey and you’ll start to discover bits of seaweed where seaweed does not belong.

But still, not too bad.

Wearing bright orange Crocs in downtown Lewiston was rough because, at the time, nobody wore bright orange Crocs anywhere. Of course, these days, absurd footwear is commonplace. Go to Walmart any time of day and if you don’t see someone wearing bright pink Crocs, I’ll let you cut ahead of me in line.

Back then, wearing blaze orange downtown was quite a feet (don’t correct that, editor. It’s supposed to say “feet.” Get a sense of humor, you block of ice). Hoodlums snarled at me. Old men shook their heads in disgust. Pretty girls driving by actually put their cellphones down just long enough to mock me. Which is hurtful, as I may have stated above.

The Crocs Experiment was pretty ugly, but at least it was over within the hour. Not like that Civil War re-enactment they sent me to. The wool pantaloons. The wool coat, socks and other unmentionables. Everything made of wool and all of it an inch thick. So, you’re out on a blazing hot battlefield dressed like it’s the middle of winter. There’s gunfire everywhere and people are running all over the place shrieking. My job was just to carry messages between the captain and his troops but, just 10 minutes in, I felt like fainting. How the hell did the Civil War last as long as it did with everybody dressed in what is essentially asbestos?

That Reiki treatment they sent me to (they couldn’t legally order me to undergo an exorcism) was kind of spooky because I didn’t know what to expect. I was instructed to lie on a table over which four women hovered, hands floating over my body like clouds. Weird experience. The upside was that I didn’t have to pay for that kind of attention, for once.

They made me be a monster at the Haunted Hayride and it was a humiliating affair. Turns out I’m not very scary, even dressed as a ghoul and jumping out of the bushes. Little kids on the back of wagons yawned when I did my thing. My thing being essentially: “AHHHH! I AM A SCARY MONSTER WHO MIGHT EAT YOU OR SOMETHING! AHHHH! LOOK HOW SCARY I AM! DAMN YOU, GIRLS! STOP THAT GIGGLING!”


And how about that chick makeover they made me get? (I can say “chick makeover” because that’s what the chicks who took me called it.) The cucumbers over the eyes? The leg waxing? Plucked eyebrows and whatever it is that they did to my nails? Horrifying. And the worst part was how long it took. Seriously? You undergo what is essentially the beauty version of a root canal just so your legs shine and your fingernails don’t have any hangy things? Yeesh. Reason number umpteen trillion I’m glad I’m a boy who doesn’t care much what he looks like.

The makeover was brutal, now that I think back on it. Not because it was painful. Mostly because it took a whole day and the hair on my left leg (that’s the one they waxed; the other one was shaved) never grew back just right. My manhood is totally out of balance. I could just cry and eat chocolate all night.

They’ve made me do some ridiculous stuff. I was once used as target practice for paintball enthusiasts, remember that? PING, PING, PING! Had so many nickel-sized bruises across my chest, I looked like a domino tile. Fun, though. And it was really heartwarming how many people volunteered to take shots at me.

I was invited to go to Niagara Falls on Friday to tightrope across Niagara Falls. I was going to do it, too. Piece of cake. But wouldn’t you know it? I’ve got a thing that day and can’t make it. They’re sending some Wallenda fellow in my place. He’ll do fine.

All is not lost, though. On Thursday I’ll be in a dunk tank, which is practically as thrilling as crossing Niagara Falls on a wire. This isn’t something the paper is making me do; I agreed to it all on my own. Never been in a dunk tank. It sounds nice. And it raises something or other for the Lewiston-Auburn Film Thing which is putting together a documentary or something with the Dr. Dreamy Guy. Good stuff. I’ll climb into the tank at the Business to Business show at the Colisee at about 4:30 p.m.

In its way, the dunk tank serves as a culmination of all that other wacky stuff I described above.

I’ll be on display, like that horrible Christmas event where I was dressed as a girl elf. People will shoot at me like they did with the paintballs and I’ll be dropped into water like a small-scale polar bear plunge with, presumably, warmer water. Also, my hideous, waxed leg will be on full display so there may be pointing and laughing. Good times, man.

Being a reporter is fun. Every day, you get to walk in somebody else’s shoes, whether they’re bright orange Crocs, giant clown shoes or high heels, which wasn’t really part of a newspaper assignment, but still.

I’m looking forward to the dunk tank. No electricity pounding through my bones, no plucking, no waxing, no hot, bulky wool. Seriously, what could possibly go wrong?

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can virtually point and giggle at [email protected]

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