The first memory I have of the word dare comes from that classic Nickelodeon game show Double Dare. If you are a child of the 80s, you know the one I'm talking about. It was a trivia show for kids. Marc Summers would ask one team a question. They could answer it for prize money, or they could dare the other team to answer for twice the cash. If they didn't know, they could double dare the first team for even more money. But if the first team still didn't know, they had to take the physical challenge. And that was the beauty of the show. 'Cause really, it was an excuse to watch kids my own age get really messy and win prizes for doing it. It was always a dream to get on that show. It never happened.
And of course there's the classic holiday film A Christmas Story. You must know where I'm going with this one. The kids are all standing around the flagpole in the dead of winter. The argument ensues, will a tongue stick to the metal flagpole if it's cold enough? The two friends in the heated debate egg each other on until one triple dog dares the other to lick the pole, just to see if it'll stick. And of course it does. Poor Flick.
I've always wondered how the idea of a dare would hold up in court. This was actually a conversation I had with a friend during lunch one day in high school. I don't remember much about high school, but for some reason this pointless conversation sticks out as clear as if it happened yesterday.
Our cafeteria was sort of a split-level deal. Down in a pit like area were most of the tables. This is where the underclassmen would all sit. Along the sides of the huge room were raised walkways, roughly four feet up from the pit. There was also a senior section located on high ground, but that's not important to the story. Like most schools in America, Patrick Henry had a police officer on campus at all times. He didn't always wear the uniform, but he always had his gun.
On this particular day, as Evan and I ate our crappy cafeteria food, we noticed the resource officer standing with his back against the railing, facing away from the general population. Evan's slightly deviant mind called my attention to the police officer. "I bet it wouldn't be too hard to grab his gun with him standing like that."
I gave Evan a strange look. I was pretty sure he wasn't serious, so I went along with it. "I dare you to go and grab it, then see how many rounds you can squeeze off before they wrestle you to the ground," he said. "You can shoot up if you want, that way you don't hurt anyone."
I didn't take that dare. But the conversation continued. I asked him how he thought that excuse would hold up in court. I could picture a judge asking me what was going through my mind when I grabbed Officer What's-His-Name's gun and just started shooting at the defenseless ceiling tiles. "Well, your honor, it's like this... Evan dared me to do it. And, well, I couldn't just back down from a dare."
At that point, the judge would probably have the DA and my attorney approach the bench, and in hushed tones, he'd look at the prosecutor and say, "The kid has a point." The prosecutor would just close his eyes, let his head hang down, and rub his forehead, knowing that he had no case at this point.
The judge would let the gavel fall with a heavy crash and shout that the case was dismissed.
Well, that's how Evan justified it. Lunch ended not long after. No one grabbed the gun that day, or any other day in my four years at Patrick Henry. Four years of peace. You can't trade that in for anything.