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Smell the Coffee: Those dastardly double dogs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I had a relative with an unusual gift. She was lucky when she needed to be. When she had no other option. On those occasions when she found herself in the most dire of straits, she'd find something to gamble on -- a sporting event, punchboards, bingo, a raffle -- and would unfailingly win. The strangest part is, she would win either the exact amount, or darn near, what she needed. Not a penny more.

You would think that someone with such a gift would abuse it, but she skimped and saved and did without rather than gamble because she said she knew if she abused it, even a little, she would lose the gift altogether.

I liked that about her. Found her judiciousness admirable. And was reminded of her gift recently because of my own situation. What I'm about to share next might not, at first glance, seem to relate to my relative's gift, but bear with me a moment. I'll explain. You see, I have this problem with double-dog dares.

I can't refuse them.

That I have this problem doesn't really match who I am. I'm not now, nor have I ever been, one who enjoys taking risks. I'm quieter than your average person. Have spent much of my life being painfully shy. I'm a state worker, for Pete's sake. If there's a bigger sign of a security-seeker than that, I can't imagine what it would be.

But if someone in my circle throws a double-dog my direction, for some reason I can't fully explain, I get all bunched up inside and just have to do it.

Please note here the distinctly mentioned circle of darers. A stranger can't walk up and issue a two-canine challenge and cause me to feel compelled to comply. It's only those of a certain closeness.

And so it was that, several months into our relationship, Didier lightly proffered a dare, which I declined. He then upped it to double-dog status. Which resulted in my dancing with a group of strangers on a table in a German-themed restaurant to a Black Sabbath cover song that was being played on accordions by men wearing lederhosen.

My boyfriend's glee over this newly discovered propensity of mine was thus exploited in myriad ways, leading to such things as a cinnamon challenge and a column on farts and my wearing University of Kentucky garb into an office densely populated with those who bleed blue and gold.

I'd never given much thought to the double-dog business or why it held sway over me, or even what the words meant. It simply sounded cool and kind of tough and adorably alliterative. But Didier's most recent dare triggered a curiosity about the origins of the double-dog business, and it took less than a minute of research before I discovered the most interesting precept. Something I never knew. Something that upsets me greatly, as it would've changed the tenor of, and my enjoyment of, so many previous dares.

You see, according to the double-dog rules, the person making the dare must, upon completion of the dare, then meet the same requirements of the dare himself. That's the doubling of the dog. A triple-dog is when a third person wants in on the challenge, meaning they too have to complete the same action if the challenge is met.

Surely I'm not the only one who didn't know about this. I mean, think how much funnier that classic scene from "A Christmas Story" would've been if Schwartz, the boy who double-dogged Flick to put his tongue on the flagpole, would've had to follow dare protocol and thus freeze his tongue to the flagpole as well.

This new knowledge is a potential game-changer, one that actually has me looking forward to what he conjures up next. Even so, I hope that he, and my other wickedly creative family members, will consider that relative I mentioned earlier. How she knew if she abused it, she'd lose her gift.

The same applies to my dares. Use it too often, it'll go away.

That said, in order to complete the requirements of his last, one he seemed certain I wouldn't be able to do, I must end with the following words:

Go Big Blue.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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