The Legend of the Dollar Bet


Dollar Bet:

n. an act of daring another person to do something mildly ridiculous but not illegal, thereby attracting attention and embarrassment to a certain degree. Wagers may not exceed one dollar, though onlookers may sweeten the pot by contributing a dollar of their own to coerce the dare.

n. a tradition in my family.

* * *

It started in the lobby of an Embassy Suites circa February 2001. Someone in my family said, “Trish, I’ll pay you a dollar to ride that glass elevator to the top floor, and you must face the lobby and perform I Am A Promise on repeat until the elevator comes back to the lobby. If you stop the music or the choreography when someone gets on the elevator, you revoke your buck.”

I have a very keen awareness of a memory waiting to be made, I have a pretty high tolerance for playful embarrassment, so I took the bet and the first Dollar Bet was born. Done and Done.

And ever since that day in family history, any time we come together, we each bring a few singles for the sole purpose of Dollar Bets. If you’re brave, you can turn a family vacation into a pretty lucrative opportunity.

There was the time when I graduated from college and we went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner. I told my brother I’d pay him a dollar if, when the waitress asked his order, if he answered her in rhyme. (An extra buck if he could make a reference to his own balls.) (There’s always extra money involved if either of us can make our own mom blush.) He did it. I think he might have earned about ten dollars on that one, as different people at the table upped the anty with their own dollars.  He placed his order, and we all cheered and threw dollars at him.  Then we explained to the waitress that we are: a. weirdos, and b. the most fun she’ll ever have waiting tables.

There was the time when we were waiting the two hours before Fantasmic, a nighttime show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, when he paid me a buck to stand and lead the people around us in a rousing rendition of I’m A Little Teapot. I did it.

In turn, I paid him a buck to lead the stadium in The Wave. He did it. He ran down the stairs to the very front, got the attention of the few hundred people who could see him, and he started The Wave in a stadium of 4,000 people. Momentum took its course on that one, and the whole crowd Waved back and forth five or six times, from one end to another. That was one dollar seriously well spent on my part.

There was the time in Aspen, Colorado when Robb paid me a dollar to loudly cheer and feign a sighting of Charlie Sheen. I did it.IMG_1992

There was the time in the Denver Arts District when my brother-in-law paid me a dollar to climb a statue to smack the rump of a painted-steel pig. I did it.

In Phoenix, when asked what he loves about Tucker, Peter said he loves Tucker’s joy. At which point, Uncle Rob instated the first Dollar Bet of that particular trip. “Tuck, I too have always loved your joy. In fact, I’ll pay you a dollar to let me call you Joy this entire weekend.” My favorite may have been Tucker’s sheepish acknowledgement every time my brother called him by a woman’s name.  His tolerance was sustained only by the promise of a crisp dollar at the end of the vacation. As an added bonus for us all, Tucker slept late and Rob snuck into his bedroom and stole a selfie with Tucker sprawled in the background. He sent it to all of us (in the same house) with the caption, “Joy in the Morning.”

Another night, Tyler laid down his own Dollar Bet: “Uncle Rob, I’ll pay you a dollar to tap dance down the entire aisle of this restaurant, all the way to the restrooms and back.” Of course, my brother did it.

Because that’s how Dollar Bets Work. You just have to do it.

Except this one I haven’t done, because there’s a standing dollar bet waiting for me if only I would reenact Meg Ryan’s diner scene from When Harry Met Sally. I just can’t bring myself to commit to that kind of notoriety, but let’s just say I think I could nail it.

And I think I’d get a few bucks out of it, because that would most assuredly make my mom blush.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. One of my favorite posts ever! My family and your family should be friends 🙂

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