I double dare you

Hello Monday old friend, so we meet again.

Here’s yesterday’s Sunday Times Column, read it if you dare.


I’ve been thinking a lot about dares. These rogue thoughts were first triggered in February by that guy who was going so fast on his skateboard down Kloof Nek in Cape Town, that he set off a speed camera. And that camera wasn’t the only thing he set off – everyone had an opinion on the subject. People couldn’t get their heads around whether what he’d done was kind of cool, or ridiculously stupid.

The traffic department went for ridiculously stupid and there was much talk of arresting him and sending him to jail without any supper. In the end the charges were dropped, and ultimately he just got off with a slap on the skateboard.

Of course the video went viral and got over a million hits on YouTube. It also sparked a bunch of spoofs and wannabes – with one guy doing the same run wearing nothing but a plastic rhino horn covering his own rhino horn. Skateboarding clothed at 100km an hour, down a steep, high-traffic road could be deemed dangerous, but doing it naked is just plain crazy, even if it is for a good cause.

The word ‘dare’ means ‘to challenge someone to perform an action requiring boldness, especially as proof of courage.’ Although they’re often proof of idiocy too, which seems to be the basis for most dares. As in, are you stupid enough to do this mad thing, simply because I said you probably wouldn’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t.

The Jackass boys have made millions off dares. Their TV series involving boys kneeing each other in the nuts and waxing their cracks even spun off into a bunch of movies. And it was all fun and games, until someone literally got a gaping chest wound.

A teenager in New York City licked a subway handrail for a dollar last year. I saw it on YouTube. And he doesn’t just quickly touch his tongue to it and then run away vomiting; he starts at the top of the flight of stairs and gives it one long lick from the top all the way down.

There are two reasons this is stupid. Firstly, according to scientists, he’d be better off licking a public toilet seat, and secondly, according to me, he’d be better off doing it for at least ten thousand. One dollar’s hardly enough to even cover antibiotics, let alone a tongue transplant.

When there’s money involved, even just a dollar, it’s a whole new ball game. Some call it a bet, some call it prostitution, I call it a dare with motivation.

So, how much would someone have to pay you to do something wild? Imagine there was a briefcase full of cash, and you didn’t even have to give a cent of it to the Guptas, oops I mean the tax man. How much would you need to lick the handrail at your local taxi rank, or run through the street starkers?

And don’t say there’s no amount of money, we all have our price. And realistically, it’s probably slightly less than you think it will be. At first I thought I’d do it for two hundred thousand Rand, but actually I might even consider it for a hundred thou in no-strings-attached cash and a couple bottles of Listerine. Tell me nobody was watching, and I’d do it for ninety thousand.

We all have a different currency. Some of us are happy to do mad things for a bit of recognition, a simple pat on the back from our mates, or a little street cred, while others will do things in exchange for a million hits on YouTube. And for the rest of us, cold hard cash will do very nicely thank you very much. Here’s a perfect example – you’d have to pay me a couple of million at least to date any of my exes, yet out there a bunch of women are doing it for free.

Remember that movie with Demi Moore, where she shagged Robert Redford for a million bucks? A million doesn’t seem like all that much in retrospect, but that was twenty years ago, so we’d have to factor in inflation. And let’s not forget that it was Robert Redford, which is hardly a chore. If the tables were turned, I suspect I might be the one making the payment, not him. But what if it wasn’t anyone famous, how much would a complete stranger have to pay you to have sex with them?

Forget dare, it’s time for truth, what’s your currency? Would you do something crazy for fame or money? Or maybe you’d just do it for the thrill of it. Go on, I double dare you.


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