I Double Dog Dare You
James L. Cowles
Copyright 2022 by James L. Cowles
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
wrong with my shirt, dummy?"
look at you, man. Let's get some other opinions. Hey guys, look at
him, will ya? His mommy pegged his shirt for him, and Jimmy's trying
to show off his muscles. I betcha you don't even weigh seventy-five
pounds; where is your muscle, anyway, Jimmy, you runt? Go on, flex it
for us, tough guy. Come on, let's see it!"
young men, twelve years of age, are in Mr. Strong's Homeroom class,
and Mr. Strong has stepped out for a minute. He does that every day
at this time, and the whole class snickers when he says he'll be back
in a minute, "And I had better not catch any of you out of your
seats!" We all know that Miss Johnson is in the classroom right
next door and that she comes out in the hallway at the designated
time. No one has seen what they do; we're all too scared of Mr.
Strong to sneak a peek. He has a tough guy image and no one wants to
cause him to lose his temper. There are rumors from the past, of guys
who refused to follow the rules. It's said that one of 'em has failed
3 years in a row, and he's fifteen, still in Manley Junior High. No
one would want that kind of punishment, so when Mr. Strong says
something, we listen.
you had better shut your mouth, man, or you will see how much muscle
I have. Everybody here knows you are just a rich kid, whose parents
can't afford to send you to that private school any longer. So, here
you are, smart mouthing a guy from a tough neighborhood. You've
probably never been in a real fight in your life, pal. You are just a
blowhard. Yeah, that's what everybody calls you; a damn blowhard."
yeah?" We'll see who is tough. I'm gonna kick your ass, smart
then come on Mr. Louie Cheatum. Tough man, Cheatum, huh? Let's see
your muscle, man. It's all hidden under that sloppy shirt your mommy
ironed for you."
if you don't shut your mouth, I'm gonna shut it for you!"
you and whose Army, buster? Ouch! You hit me, you Cheatum, dumb,
dumb. Here's a little something you can tell your mommy about. Slap!
you SOB, you. Put 'em up. Come on over here in the open, Louie."
We'll see how tough you are. Puck, puck, puck! You dumb chicken!"
fight was really underway, now, with both of us slugging with our
eyes closed. Louie caught me a good one, right on my temple, and I
felt kinda dizzy, but I kept swinging until I landed a glancing blow
on his lip. It wasn't a solid hit, but his lip started bleeding. That
scared me, and for a minute, we both stopped and everyone, including
me, was trying to find something Louie could use to stop the
bleeding. I didn't want to fight anymore, but he had gotten even
angrier, and he hit me right in the jaw, just as Mr. Strong returned
to the classroom.
both of you come up front, please. Now, what is going on, here?"
and I looked at each other and, simultaneously, shrugged our
shoulders. Neither of us knew what to say because we didn't want to
repeat what we had said to each other. We rather suddenly realized
how embarrassing that would be, to actually tell an adult what we had
said to each other. We also realized that we were in deep doo-doo.
You see, Mr. Strong was the tough guy, not us. It was the
nineteen-fifties, way before teachers had stopped punishing kids. We
knew we were about to experience the wrath of Mr. Strong and his
paddle, which he had rightly named, "Thunder."
gentlemen, please assume the position, both hands on my desk, please.
Okay, class, you are about to see what happens when you disobey me.
Fighting is not permissible on school grounds, especially in my
classroom. Each of these young men is about to receive three licks
from, "Thunder." Now, for your edification, here's Thunder.
He resides in the middle, side drawer of my desk. Who wishes to be
first? Mr. Coles? Mr. Cheatum? Make up your mind now. Both of you are
going to get it anyway. I tell you what, let's flip a coin. Jimmy,
you'll be "heads," Louie, you'll be "tails."
looky here! Step up now, Mr. Coles."
has been, many, many years since Junior High, and the great lesson
both Louie and I learned that day. As I write this, I feel my rear
end burning a little bit. It definitely burned the rest of the day,
that fateful day. A funny thing happened, too. Louie and I became the
best of friends, immediately after we both experienced the wrath of
"Thunder." I used to see Louie quite often and each time we
would laugh about Mr. Strong and Thunder. It was truly a dis-ASS-her
(or, "him") that day, and isn't it funny that it took a
disaster for us to become such good friends? It even made us more
popular around the school. We had survived the wrath of Thunder, and
we did it together.
could explain why we humans come together after a real disaster, or
soldiers do not want to leave their wounded friends behind after a
firefight. Respect. We learned respect for each other that fateful
day. I haven't seen Louie in several years and I sure hope he's okay.
Both of us have become senior, seniors, which means, we are old. It
reminds me that regardless of age, you are never too old to learn.
When I was young, I couldn't imagine reaching this age. By now, I
should know everything there is to know, but the truth is, we know so
little about almost everything.
gonna dream about you tonight, Louie!
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
list and biography for James
Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher