Ever wondered what it's like to sit on a dunk tank at a county fair?
I couldn’t help noticing a group had set up a dink tank as a fundraiser at the county fair last weekend.
You know how dunk tanks work: a volunteer sits on a precariously-balanced plank above a metal tank of cold water, protected from the crowd by a net or sheet of plexiglas.
About 20 feet away, people pay a dollar to throw three baseballs (at 33.33 cents apiece for you math-challenged people) at a small target attached to the tank.
If the ball hits the target, the plank tilts, and the volunteer falls into the water and gets wet, to the amusement of all.
Having been one a dunk-tank volunteer before, I have a few observations about the experience:
• If you don’t pinch your nose shut, you can in hale up to three quarts of water every time you go underwater.
• At least once during every volunteer’s session on the plank, someone goads a small child into running up and hitting the target.
The kinder grown-ups at least have the decency to pay a dollar for the privilege of watching their kids do it, however.
• Your butt hits the bottom of the tank.
• The seat has to be set just exactly right. If it’s too millimeters too far one way, pitchers can bounce the ball off the target again and again, and you’ll just sit there.
If the target is set two millimeters too far the other way, the seat will slip and send you into the water while the pitcher is still winding up.
While everyone except you enjoys that, it’s unfair to deprive the universe of the dollar someone should have paid to knock you into the water.
• Volunteers sitting precariously on planks above water are obligated to hurl abuse back at pitchers, to make them feel good about themselves when they finally knock you into the water.
However, after about 25 minutes, you can’t think of any more fresh verbal abuse to mock the pitchers with, and you have to start repeating yourself.
• The tank is filled with ordinary hose water.
Once, when I was on the plank, Karen Seavert of Magic Water strolled by. I asked her to fill the tank with reverse osmosis water for me, but that didn’t happen for some reason.
When I was in the dunk tank at St. Catherine’s fall festival once, I asked the priest to fill the tank with holy water, but that didn’t happen either.
I wasn’t asking for too much, I thought — I just wanted to renew my baptism every time a baseball hit the target. As a bonus, all the people standing near the tank could get baptized again, too.
Picture the scene: the pitcher winds up and yells, “Do you believe?!”
Me, rising out of the tank: “I believe!”