"Too bad. We
use the snow in our show," Al said. "We rub it over our bodies to get
us going. Having no snow is like having a room without a carpet."
right," said Helene. "Snow's the icing on the cake. It makes you feel
secure. Oh well, that's life."
they made a cake for me out of the snow," said Pablo, walking along beside
me. He's a small man with a round face and a thin, carefully shaped mustache.
He wore a captain's hat, and on the back of his black denim jacket was a
picture of a polar bear set in an arctic scene. Pablo's jacket was covered with
souvenir patches, and he even had a little license plate that said PABLO sewn
on the front. "They cut the cake and I got inside and they covered me up
with snow. I left my feet sticking outside to show that I was all right. If my
feet stopped moving, something would be wrong. I was there for seven minutes
and then I felt someone starting to brush the snow away from my face. I got mad
because I wanted to stay longer. Then I saw it was the queen, so I said O.K.
She had some real cake for me. I got up and ate the cake, and there were more
than 10,000 people singing happy birthday to Pablo. It was a beautiful little
ceremony." He took a quick skip in his gait. "You know, my birthday
isn't really in February," he said.
Some of the Polar
Bears were dancing around, urging passers-by to come to the 2 p.m. swim.
"On paper I'm 58," Pablo went on, "but really I'm 59. I'm most
proud of being a Polar Bear. Polar Bear makes me feel healthy, makes me feel
important. Not my job. My job gives me money to take care of my
the two of you?"
right. She takes care of me, I take care of her."
"How does she
feel about your swimming in cold water?"
"First time I
went in, she prayed. Me too. I climbed inside a wave and kneeled down and
prayed to God. It was quiet in there and I knew God was in there with me and
everything was safe inside."
He stopped and waved to three teen-age girls who had shouted to him. This was
the eighth year that the club had come to Lake George, so they were well known
by the townspeople.
"I like any
place cold," Pablo said, beaming. "When you are in a cold place your
body asks you to move, and when you move you feel good. I was dreaming once we
were going to Russia and it was a paradise of ice. That's right, a paradise of
ice. That's heaven to me." He turned and waved to the girls again.