When I volunteered for the Thespian Freeze Out it was under the sincere impression that I wasn’t going to be going into the dunk tank. There were lots of people volunteering, and way better targets than me. I had no enemies that I knew of, and most of my friends were broke. What did I have to fear?
Chanse Ward and Eric Wakeman apparently, who, in an act of betrayal the likes of which I have never known, conspired against me to place more money in my jar than had any business being there.
The way the Freeze Out works is this: there’s a bunch of jars laid out on the table behind photos of the participating sacrifices. The three people who raised the most money, as well as the three with the least amount of money in their jars, are condemned to the tank. There was a section devoted to the student victims, and another for the Professors that the Scarlet Masque had magically convinced/ blackmailed into participating. The professors and students involved could be found walking would-be casually by the table in McCain all week long preceding the official list of casualties, keeping their eyes on the numbers and casually thumbing in a dollar here and there to keep themselves out of harms way. I wasn’t worried. My jar wasn’t gaining much attention, not with Chanse Ward’s name on the jar beside mine. In my heart I believed I was safe, and I gleefully imagined the moment I could watch my friends and fellow theatre students descending into an icy water bucket from the vantage point of my toasty warm coat.
Then, tragedy struck. There I was, chilling at home, receiving updates from the Thespian Freeze Out table along with every other frightened student. I was sitting at a cushy $9.12, which put me comfortably within the middle range and safe from the dunk tank. I got the text message, “Haley, you’re safe for now” from Scarlet Masque President Hailee Lenhart-Wees, and even though there was an hour to go before the official names were called, I felt confident that nothing too crazy could happen in those last few minutes. I turned my back from my phone for ten minutes, went and made a sandwich, came back to flop in front of my computer and realized I’d missed like five text messages. My friend Elisabeth had just messaged me “sorry dude” with a picture of my jar and the poster with my name on in proclaiming I’d reached the hundred-dollar mark.
I screamed. It had to be a mistake. Reaching the hundred dollar mark meant wearing a bikini/ a terrible costume/ some combination of the two instead of the slightly less mortifying t-shirt and short combo I’d been counting on come worst case scenario. My hopes of a dry, warm evening disintegrated like smoke in the wind, and I saw my future for what it was, an icy-wet catastrophe. I had to know what had happened, how everything could have flown apart so fast. “Eric Wakeman threw in like sixty dollars,” Elisabeth let me know, “Chanse threw in the last thirty”.
I have never experienced such a betrayal as that, and the mocking messages I received from my once good friend The President only added insult to injury. I begrudgingly applied my waterproof mascara, and planned my revenge.
If you’ve ever been in a dunk tank during the winter, my condolences. If you haven’t, just know that it’s freaking freezing, and there’s nothing more disturbing than watching someone shovel snow into a tank of water while knowing full well that soon you’ll be shoulder deep and bikini clad in said tank. I also had the joy of being the last student to be dunked, so I got to watch and wait while everyone was submerged in the icy depths only to come up screaming and scrambling to get out. My friend Austin Murray went first, and he took it like a champ, but he got the hell out of dodge quick. The beautiful and sweet Kaitlin Heller was graceful as usual, but couldn’t hide her wide-eyed horror at how cold the water really was. Student after student went in, student after student went out, until finally it was my turn. I had on Wonder Woman socks with little capes, a rainbow feather boa, a bikini, and a witch’s hat. The whole look didn’t really come together, but it worked for the occasion. I climbed up into the tank, felt the water with my toes, cried internally, and waited. I didn’t have to wait long.
I should feel lucky. Despite being an active part of the theatre department, this is the first and only year I’ll ever be dunked. Just because the experience took an estimated two years off my life doesn’t mean I shouldn’t appreciate the fact that the department raised more than $500 for our trip to KCACTF. The theatre department’s yearly trip to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Conference is probably my favorite yearly event, so in the end, being nearly froze to death was pretty much worth it. It even might have been fun.
That doesn’t mean I let Eric or Chanse get away with what they had done though, make no mistake. They were both on the receiving end of some very wet, drippy, cold hugs.
It was only fair.
Haley Ganatos is a senior theatre major from Boise