Saturday, January 7, 2012

Double Dog Dare

One of my favorite holiday movies is Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story. Although it's set in the 1940's, people of all ages find something in that movie they can relate to—a character or scene that reminds them of a person or incident from their own childhood. Unfortunately, for me it's the "double-dog dare" scene. You know which one I mean—the one where Ralphie's friend Flick gets his tongue stuck to the flagpole.

For me, that scene is almost too painful to watch. Like Shep and his alter-ego Ralph, I grew up in northern Indiana. I had friends like Flick and Schwartz. For the most part, they were good friends. However, they did not always have my best interests at heart. I was about Ralphie's age when, one cold winter day, a couple of those friends persuaded me to touch my tongue to a metal post during recess at Lincoln Elementary School.

Remember how Flick reacted when he discovered his tongue was stuck to the pole? How he became a pitiful, sniveling, whiny wimp? Well, that was me. At least my friends didn't abandon me, like Flick's did. They told the teacher, and she got the principal and the school nurse. (Cooler heads prevailed at Lincoln Elementary. It was not considered necessary to call the fire department.) Together, the three of them managed to pry me loose, although a small piece of my tongue remained stuck to the post. Like Flick, I spent the remainder of the day with a piece of gauze tied around the end of my tongue.

I bet half the boys in Indiana have gotten their tongues stuck to a cold piece of metal, and the other half put them up to it. (Girls seldom do anything so stupid.) I could end this story by cautioning all of you boys who might be reading this to never do anything on a dare. I'm sure your parents have told you this, just as my parents told me. However, as your parents, and my parents, and just about everyone else's parents have also said, "Boys will be boys." Besides, sometimes, the best way to learn is from your mistakes.

So whatever stupid thing you're thinking about doing, boys, go ahead and do it. I double-dog dare you.

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