My friend Fred was always ready to accept a dare. On this particular summer evening we were looking for something to entertain ourselves and a milkshake sounded pretty good.
This was after our sophomore year in high school in the summer of 1967. Neither one of us could drive yet, so since Fred lived about eight miles from my house we didn't get to see each other very often during the summer. On this day he managed to get his parents to drop him off at my parents' house so he could spend the night and we could hang out some.
At some point we started rummaging around through some of my parents' old show business props and costumes and ran across an old battered silk top hat. The hat had been smashed, fabric worn and torn, and looking like something that could have belonged to an elegant bum. Fred put the hat on and he looked so utterly ridiculous that a light bulb went off in my head.
I told Fred that I would pay for his milkshake if he would walk with me to the Dairy Dip ice cream stand that was on the highway near our house and wear the top hat. The image of Fred walking down the street with that silly hat struck me as an absolutely hilarious thing that no one would have the nerve to do. Fred didn't hesitate and agreed to do it.
We started walking and I was giddy with excitement. Soon I was giggling like a girl and eventually laughing so hard that I could barely keep on my feet. There wasn't anybody else around so nobody could see Fred, but I was thinking about how funny it was going to be when we got to Dairy Dip.
In reality I suppose none of this would have really been funny to anyone else, but I was greatly amused. Fred was tall and lanky, with black rimmed glasses and a hair line that seemed to be threatening to recede even at his young age. He looked like a sixty year-old trapped in a sixteen year-old's body. And he kept such a serious expression throughout it all.
By the time we reached Dairy Dip, I had mostly regained my composure, although stifled laughter remained pent up inside of me and could erupt into an uncontrollable outburst at any minute. Periodically my body would convulse with throes of silent held in laughter. Fred remained stoic. Nobody else seemed to notice Fred and his hat. I had pictured startled stares, pointing fingers, and delirious hilarity among the Dairy Dip patrons. There was no reaction whatsoever. It was only funny to me.
On the walk back home we savored the cool rich milkshakes. My demeanor was happy, but calmed. It still brought a smile whenever I would glance over at Fred and see him looking as serious as he could be and wearing the funny hat. Perhaps no one else had seen the humor in it, but it sure cracked me up.
Have you ever found something to be enormously funny only to realize that no one else did? What were some of the silly things you dared your friends to do or that you did?