This week’s Five Minute Writing Prompt (thanks, Kate Moutaung) is “DARE.”
“Double-dog dare you!” was the ultimate childhood challenge from one kid to another as I was growing up. We would dare one another to do something that seemed quite dangerous, something that would get you in BIG trouble if you were caught. The words were thrilling when I was challenged to do something I actually longed to do anyway. Other times, the dare was manipulation, plain and simple.
I wish someone had double-dog dared me to do a cartwheel every day. Maybe I could have learned how. I watched other girls do perfect cartwheels, legs straight and spinning like the spokes in a wheel. My cartwheels were slumped and off-kilter like a flat tire. My desire to perform a perfect cartwheel remained strong, so when I entered college, I took a “gymnastics” class, a kind of “roll around and balance yourself” affair, not Olympic-style performances. Tall and thin, graceless and scared, I started double-dog daring myself to cartwheel across the gym.
When we finally advanced to the cartwheel stage, I confessed that I was too scared to try. My instructor reassured me that I would be fine. The other women cheered me on as we laid a long path of mats on the gym floor. Everyone stood in two lines along the path, my human safety rail. The instructor would be ready to spot my landing. I didn’t hear a single double-dog dare. Instead, I heard a chorus of encouragement and support.
With the most powerful leap I’ve ever made, I catapulted forward and OVER the heads of my safety rail. I smashed flat on my back on the hard gym floor. An ambulance took me away. That was about 40 years ago, but occasionally I double-dog dare myself to give it another try.