Dear Marc Summers (host of 1986’s Double Dare),

Thank you for entertaining me through the years with your hosting prowess. I’d like to think your presence on 80’s television made a subconscious, but positive impact on my life.

After reading a chapter of a new book to my nine year old, I decided to show him an episode of Double Dare on YouTube as the book had its characters going through a messy obstacle course which contained an oversized proboscis with slime-filled nostrils, a direct reference to your show.

When Double Dare began in ’86, I was the same age that my son is now. So much has changed in the 35 years since its debut.

  • The kids in the audience wore lots of pastel colors, mock turtlenecks and oversized prescription glasses.
  • The audience, as well as the contestants, all looked as if they had been delivered by a Wonder Bread truck.
  • At one point, contestants were asked to sit “Indian style”. I had to explain to my son that’s what we now call Criss Cross Apple Sauce and why.
  • Even the prizes by today’s account seem very underwhelming. Granted, the digital Franklin Electronic thesaurus dictionary combo would have been a disappointment to win then as well.

You were 35 that first year. The kids in the audience would scream like you were a heart throb on the cover of Tiger Beat. You weren’t. I’m not saying this to draw attention in a negative way or to be a slight. It’s just that you were a 35 year old game show host, not one of the Coreys.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that kids are hard to impress, especially mine. He found the show slow, as opposed to my wife who was screaming at the rerun with the same enthusiasm that I was. 

She said, “Oh, we could definitely be a winning team on Double Dare”,

to which I replied,

“Yes, but I’d rather be the host.”

So that you know, I do carry a lot fo “Marc Summers Energy” around in my day to day life. I have an “on” quality in my Zoom calls, enthusiasm for bad impressions, and have hosting duties on occasion.

The real reason that I’m writing you is not to mention your show from the 80s but to thank you for an interview you did in the 90s on Dateline. I learned that hosting Double Dare had been a dream answered, as you always had specific aspirations of being a game show host, but as someone who was taunted as a “neat freak” it must have been a specific kind of hell to have to go to work every day with the potential of being messy.

Before watching that interview, I had come to terms with my own penchant for neatness,  but never felt very satisfied with what had going on inside my head for over a decade.

Since I was seven years old I would do things that would outwardly appear odd to those seeing them, if they had. In my brain, these habits made perfect sense and were solvable puzzles to which left unattended would produce horrible consequences to my loved ones. Without having ever seen anyone perform the particulars I would: 

  • Turn the light switch off and on several times before leaving a room. 
  • Run the faucet hot and have the stream of running water touch each hand the same number of times before drying them off.
  • I would tap my feet on both sides of my shoes dozens of times before placing each foot in and lacing them, a time consuming effort that made me last in line.

And the ritual that I heard you admit to the interviewer was one that I did as well. You’d straighten the fringe of your rugs obsessively over and over and over. I was 8, 9 and 10 and doing the same things.

Horrors awaited my family if I did not obey these imagined demands. Being a child with a deep sense of justice, guilt, and no filter, I spoke to my parents about it. It made them… worry. At one point I think they even considered calling an exorcist or even worse in the 80s, a therapist. I eventually called these cerebral images tied to actions my “bad thoughts”.

Over the years, the problem became smaller and I had outgrown most of these “bad thoughts” as I attributed their waning to the increase in activities and having less idle time on my hands, but the anxiety had always remained in some form.

But after hearing your interview, I realized that I was not as abnormal and that I was not the only person in the world with this specific anxiety and a need for perfection. My brain was oversensitive to the lack of serotonin it produced and I now had a name for it and it wasn’t “neat freak”, it was Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I wasn’t the only person in the world like this, I was like 1 in every 100 people. This knowledge was a comfort I had not felt before and an understanding of myself that I hadn’t had. 

Your story was freeing to me and having THAT story immediately made any reoccurring OCD mannerisms more manageable. Well, that and my daily anti-anxiety meds.

I still catch myself straightening books and collections with a precision that others would never give time to, but I know there won’t be consequences for the people I care about if I ignore those self imposed conditions and as an added bonus these days, I can now put my shoes on a lot faster.

Why the Trump yard sign

Way after Election Day?

White supremacy