The sound of stomping into the kitchen was unmistakable. Growing up back on Flamingo Street, I’d heard our mom do the same many times before, but this was different.
The mom of our granddaughters was mad, really mad, and someone was in big trouble.
“What are y’all doing?” Her voice easily made its way through the floor and to the basement where I was. Pausing the National Geographic’s “Seven Worlds, One Planet,” I tilted an ear towards the ceiling and listened intently.
How could what was going on upstairs possibly be more interesting than the program about Mission golden-eyed tree frogs native only to the Amazon rainforest? Before I could decide, their mom shouted the answer.
“I just left the room for two minutes!”
One of the girls, half pleading and half crying, tried to explain. I was very happy I wasn’t the one getting yelled at. The crying explanation was quickly interrupted.
“What do you mean she double-dog dared you? Why did you think it was a good idea to do such a thing? Clean this mess up now!”
I didn’t know what had just happened or what the double-dog dare had consisted of, but there was one thing I was absolutely sure of. I wasn’t to blame for anything that was now happening, very loudly, above my head. Or was I?
The definition of a double-dog dare is “An intense form of a dare” or “to challenge defiantly.” From the yelling upstairs, the dare had been made. The dare had been accepted. And the dare had gotten both of our granddaughters in a whole heap of trouble. But they aren’t the only ones who have fallen under the spell of the double-dog dare over the years.
For kids playing in backyards, schoolyards, and homes across this country, a double-dog dare is a challenge of epic proportions. It’s a challenge that can’t be ignored for any reason, common sense, or even impending danger.
I’ve written and told many stories of double-dog dares from our time growing up on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo. There wasn’t a week that went by without at least one such challenge being issued. It was a gauntlet thrown down — always picked up by my brothers and me or one of the other kids in the neighborhood. Here are just a few of the double-dog dares from our childhood.
Jumping bikes accounted for more dares, and injuries, than any other activity. How many kids can lie on the street and be jumped over safely without the last in line being hit by the bike causing a crash and two kids seriously injured? The answer is four.
Can you jump over Cripple Creek while riding your bike blindfolded? After twenty-two tries by multiple kids, the answer is no.
If you peddle your bike fast enough down Flamingo with cardboard wings strapped to your back, can you actually take off and fly? The answer is no, but Twin Brother Mark still has the record for how far a winged bicyclist can tumble before crashing into a thorny bush.
But these weren’t the only double-dog dares issued and accepted while we lived on Flamingo. We’re just getting started.
Who can hit the paper wasp nest with a dirt clod and outrun the bazillion angry hornets pouring out? Answer: painfully, no one ever did.
Armed with a bucket full of water balloons, can one person defeat Down the Street Bully Brad with a watery barrage? Answer: no. It just makes him really mad.
Can you sneak out at night, roll a cheerleader’s front yard, and get away with it? Answer: nope. But that dare will have you spending the next two weeks pulling all that toilet paper down out of the trees.
Can you shoot arrows straight up into the air and then run around screaming and yelling with your arms covering your head hoping that will stop a rapidly falling arrow from hitting you? Answer: yes – yes you can. Just ask my brothers or me.
Now, looking back, trying to dodge falling arrows wasn’t the smartest or safest thing we did as kids. I don’t recommend it at all. We were lucky no one got hurt.
A double-dog dare where no one gets hurt is truly a rare occurrence. Which leads us from the street of Flamingo right back upstairs and to two sisters now in some really sticky trouble.
When the girls’ mom left the room, Little One went to the refrigerator, reached for the full bottle of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup, turned to her younger sister and announced, “Bet you won’t double-dog dare me to squeeze this all out.”
Meeting the challenge, Sweet Caroline responded, “I double-dog dare you.” And that’s how, in less than two minutes, an entire bottle of syrup can be squeezed and emptied all over the floor.
Not only are they now the sweetest little girls this side of Atlanta, they both will smell like maple syrup for weeks to come.
When asked why they thought it was a good idea to do such a thing, they both answered, “Big Papa and his brothers double-dog dared each other all the time when they were kids.”
So, how did I find out what actually had happened? Three hours later at bedtime, I went upstairs to kiss the girls goodnight. I asked innocently, “Why does everything up here, and you two, smell like maple syrup?”
Thankfully, I’ve never told the girls any stories about our quadruple-dog dares. Perhaps I will when they get a little older … and their mom is nowhere around.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]