Friday, November 5, 2010

I Dare You to Dare Me

Dare me to do something.

Come on. I dare you to.

Dare me to do something that you really want me to do, like go get the mail. Or pick up the dog poop. Dare me to wash the dishes or fold your laundry. I won't be able to resist.

I've been dared to scale uneven stone churches and perch myself on their verdigris rooftops. Dares have sent me leaping from rocky cliffs into uncertain waters with the promise of stinging skin from the slap of the surface.

 I've taken dares from a cell phone, with the dare-er watching 8 flights above in a hotel window.
"I dare you to set your cell phone down and dance in the middle of the street."
And I danced.
"I dare you to go hug that sign."
And I hugged.
"See that guy approaching on a bike? I dare you to go hug him."

I know no power like that of three little words: I dare you.
All caution is thrown to the wind. An "Oh, yeah? You don't think I will, do you? Do you?" attitude sweeps over me and a fiery compulsion is set in motion. I'll show you whose getting dared to do what.

I stop at all things illegal, that God. Although I did steal Christmas presents from the "bargain basement" of Famous-Barr one year. One a dare. I was twelve. And hearing, "Oh! You shouldn't have! How did you ever afford these cameo earrings or this lovely tie tack or these gold hoops?" was enough to leave a guilty-sour taste in my dare-accepting spot. No more stealing.

But I could still be dared to take part in otherwise questionable behavior. Accepting the dare to take off my shoe and wiggle my toes within eyesight of a known mentally ill homeless man with an obvious foot fetish comes to mind. I was in high school, and dared by a group of classmates while riding on the Bi-State bus three seats over from "Shoe Man." It was risky. It was distasteful. It brought me a level of ick which took days to wear off. But, I did it. Dare accepted.

Being dared + teenage stupidity = dumb situations, but great stories years later. Had Jackass been around when I was a teen, I might have been the gal shooting myself in the buttock with a pellet gun. Or waking my dad up with a pair of cymbals. If I dad been dared, that is.

It occurs to me that I never accepted a dare that wasn't a milli-thought away from something I would have done on my own, anyway. The dare acceptance made the action your fault all of a sudden, not mine. "What? You're mad at me because I threw a drink in your girlfriend's face? But, her friend dared me to!" I had no choice! I was dared!

If you brought me a steaming pile of dog shit in a baggie and dared me to eat it, you better believe I wouldn't. I wouldn't have in my dumb years, and I wouldn't now. Sniff it? Yes. Poke at it with a stick? Perhaps. Put it in someone's mailbox? Not at my age. But there was a time.

Getting older has limited the number of dares I accept. Perhaps, as an adult who hangs around exclusively with other adults, I'm not being asked to take a dare as much. I'm sure my middle school students would like to test the boundaries of my dare-acceptance, but seeing as I pack each class full of intellectually-stimulating discussions of fine literature, there will never be a chance for them to find out just what I will and won't do. Plus, I know the middle school brain: "I dare you to not give us homework!" "I dare you to text my mom and tell her I'm in trouble!" "I dare you to let us go outside!"

Eh. Dares for sissies. You can do better.

Dare me to do something really out there.  Give me a dare that will make my stomach turn.
Dare me to get close.

Dare me to love you.


  1. I don't dare ask what it tells. Something neurotic, no doubt. Oops. I hate when I do that.

  2. That Chicago dare 8 flights up was by far the funniest thing I've ever seen. Your readers deserve to read the entire story...the outcome of that dare.