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Marilyn Hagerty, Forum News Service, Published February 10 2013

Marilyn Hagerty: Subzero temps drive local man to stick tongue on metal pole

GRAND FORKS - Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe he is too curious. Who knows?

All I know is that Truman Reed stuck his tongue on a metal pole up by the North Side Cafe a week ago Saturday. And it stuck.

Now, he tells me his tongue feels funny. I guess it is healing.

You wonder what possesses a grown, intelligent, retired man in our midst to do a thing like this. And his answer is, “The character Ralphie in ‘A Christmas Story’ has a certain charm about him. With the recent chilly — make that darn cold weather in North Dakota, I wondered if it would be a dare or a double dare for me to become Ralphie for a minute. I would see if my tongue really would stick to a pole.”

Reed sent out messages to his fellow middle school friends with whom he is still in contact. He asked them if would be a double dare. Elaine from Geneva, Ill., responded it would be a double dare or even triple dare.

Reed wondered how he could refuse the challenge.

So the scene was set when he joined in on the weekly 7 a.m. Saturday morning meeting of the Forx Amateur Radio group on Feb. 2 at the cafe on Gateway Drive.

The weather was clear —9 degrees below zero with a wind chill of 38 below. To Reed, it was a perfect day. Active participants were a photographer and witnesses including the waitresses and the local coroner.

Not invited was the Grand Forks Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department or the State Highway Patrol. Conspicuously absent: his family.

The results are shown on a photograph too gross to share with readers. There were censored comments from his son, Truman Thomas Reed. The coroner, Mark Koponen, joked he would one day mark Reed’s death certificate as “stupid.”

And his wife, Mary, who said, “No, no, no,” before the event, said she would edit the photos for a graphic slide show. After all, they have been married since 1975, and she seems to understand. Even though it isn’t always easy.

Once the word was out to friends around the country, the caustic comments came flowing in.

• A friend named Tracey suggested the only participant missing was a psychiatrist.

• Friend Pat asked, “How far along is your dementia?”

• Still another friend Polly suggested, “You should burn the roof of your mouth with hot pizza to take your mind off your tongue for a while.”

• And Bill messaged: “I always thought you were slightly nuts. This proves it!”

Reed, who is retired director of the Chester Fritz Auditorium at UND, clings to his sense of humor. He says he is not worried about his son or grandkids sticking their tongues on metal poles. “They seem to be brighter bulbs than their granddad,” he said. “And my tongue is healing well.”