Mayor Emanuel, you've just successfully bullied the most popular guy in show business into jumping into frigid Lake Michigan, how do you feel?
"We made him an offer he couldn't refuse," Rahm said, chuckling demurely, knowing full well that he used his infamous power of persuasion to lure "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon to town for the Special Olympics' Polar Plunge.
It all started last week when the TV funnyman told a reporter our mayor had an open invitation to be a guest at — heck, even host — the "Tonight Show" and added, "I'm scared of that guy."
In typical Rahm fashion, the mayor seized this opportunity to do a little arm-twisting — the relentless tactics typically deployed to score campaign donations and lure big business to town when he smells fear in the air — to help raise more cash for Special Olympics.
"Look, he made this comment," Rahm told me. "I thought, 'Let's go at this.'"
So, the mayor took to Twitter: "THX for the invite @jimmyfallon. You should toughen up for the big leagues. Do the Chicago Polar Plunge with me and I'll join @FallonTonight."
And then, behind the scenes, the mayor called his brother, Hollywood super agent Ari Emanuel, to get Fallon's phone number.
Rahm called Fallon and told him about the bet he lost with Chicago kids: If they read more than 2 million books over the summer, the mayor promised to do the Polar Plunge.
"He started laughing," Rahm said. "He was saying, 'Well, I don't know, I don't know. Blah, blah blah.' And a few hours later he put out his first tweet about it."
That's when the mayor knew he had 'em.
"It's a little persuasion, smart marketing and persistence," the mayor said. "Everybody got on Twitter, Facebook and made big social media thing of it building an audience and persuading him. … I bought him a wet suit."
During their phone chat, Fallon told the mayor that Chicago provided the biggest audience for his debut on "The Tonight Show."
"I said, 'Well, come on home to your mother's arms,' " Rahm said, laughing a winner's laugh. "And here we are ready to rock out in the water."
On Monday, Fallon made it official on Twitter: "Okay @RahmEmanuel I'm in. Lake Michigan will have a New York fish this weekend. #SwimmyFallon."
The fact that Fallon caved to Rahm's social media pressure wasn't a surprise to James "Skinny" Sheahan, who heads up fundraising for Special Olympics and knows all about the mayor's persuasive ways.
"Look, I don't blame Jimmy Fallon. This is Chicago. It's the way it is. The mayor speaks, you better do what he says, or else," Sheahan said. "And it's thanks to Rahm Emanuel. He did it on his own. And it's amazing that Jimmy Fallon, given how big he is right now, is coming to Chicago for the kids is amazing.
"It's going to be a wonderful event, and really, really cold. … So I just wanna tell Jimmy it's best to have a couple cocktails and then just jump right in."
And Skinny wants you to know that all it takes to be part of the Polar Plunge — also known as the "Rahm and Jimmy Show" — is to register at SOChicago.org.
This could be a once-in-a-lifetime event, Mayor Emanuel said.
"Look, next year if I'm going to have to jump in the water, we're going to raise the number of books that need to be read to 2.5 million," the mayor said. "I'm never gonna let the kids do that to me again."
And if Rahm's Readers pull that off, you probably can bet there's a long list of celebrities wondering, "Who's next?"