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Dare Me?Ho, Ho, Ho Indeed!

By Sarah Buckley
STAFF COLUMNIST

This episode’s dare, completed in the midst of finals week, was very straightforward: go to a mall and strip for Santa. The idea came from an online forum, and initially I wasn’t too keen on it. But then people started posting comments calling me out, telling me I’m chicken, saying that my face looks like Abe Lincoln’s. Well if there’s one thing I can’t take, it’s being called chicken. I grabbed three friends, (including “B,” who was featured in one of my earlier columns) and made the two-hour journey to Burlington Mall.

Waiting in line, I began to face second and, at times, third thoughts. Looking around at all the kids, I was overcome with a sense of what-the-hell-am-I-doing. I’m very awkward around young children, but I do think they’re special and magical behind all the snot and the fact that they poop right into their pants. The family in front of me had this little girl with her hair up in pigtails, and she was so cute I just wanted to pick her up and pet her on the back of her head and feed her a leaf. As I said, I’m bad with kids.

As the line grew shorter, I turned to my friends for moral support, and that’s when I realized it’s a poor idea to rely on your right-wing Christian pal (B) to tell you that it’s ok to party like it’s 1999 in front of Santa. His lone piece of consolation was, “Well it’s not in my position to tell you whether or not you’re going to Hell. But God is watching.” While my other friends were busy arguing religion with B, I was left alone to face the task ahead.

By the time we got to the front, we had been discussing the issue for half an hour, and the parents on either side of us had gotten some wind of what was to happen. Ironically enough, it was the father in front of me who really came through to give me the support I needed. “Heck, that’s pretty funny,” he chimed, “so my family and I are gonna stay and watch. You better follow through.”

As B was getting his picture taken with Santa, I started chatting up the camera woman.

Me: Yeah, I’m going to be taking a pretty racy picture with your man Santa.

Her: So I hear, but why would you want to do that?

Me: I owe it to my fans.

Her: How do you have fans? Who are you?

Me: I’m Sarah, and I’m very famous. You know, I have my own Web site.

Her: I’m calling security.

I shooed B off of Santa’s lap and sat down next to the fat guy in red, but the camera woman was standing to the side speaking animatedly into the phone. I was getting scared.

“What seems to be the trouble?”

It was Santa. He was talking to me. I looked up at him, into his warm and trusting eyes, and I told him everything.

“Ho, ho, ho. You know how I’d deal with a situation like that?”

“How, Santa? How would you do it?”

“My dear, you can’t go through this asking permission from everyone along the way. At some point, you just have to take your own initiative and do what you came here to do.”

For a split second, my world flashed before my eyes — the father with his family urging me on, my multitudinous fans waiting expectantly, the camera woman hanging up the phone, the families waiting … And I think about these kids — how will they be affected? Will this ruin Christmas forever? Will the six-month-old child waiting behind me remember this day in infamy? Will (s)he lose all faith in fat men dressed in red? And then I see my friends waiting with the camera, and I think about what Santa told me, and I realize that he’s right: at some point I have to stop dissecting the situation or I’ll never be able to go through with this or any other venture. And for the first time, my mind is clear.

The next few seconds come as a blur: one moment I was paralyzed and then next I was topless (bra on!) on Santa’s lap, legs kicked in the air, grinning like an idiot. And then I remember one of my friends grabbing me, throwing on my coat, and the four of us running out into the cold, winter air. What just happened? Did I just do that? I turned the camera on and took a close look at the picture. Yes, it’s perfectly scandalous and all that good stuff, but what cracks me up the most is the expression on Santa’s face. You can see it for yourself at http://www.mit.edu/~sabuckle.

So there you have it. I went through with the ordeal, and I’m still not sure if it was the “right” thing to do. But then I remember B with his fire and brimstone, and I realize that none of the morality matters: a Jew like me is going to be spending her afterlife in the eternal sauna no matter what.

And as always, send in dares. This week, I’m looking for more serious entries that will allow me to showcase the fact that I can write good columns without undressing in public. Direct your modest proposals to sabuckle@mit.edu.