Every man, I think, wants renown, wants to be known for his uniqueness, the thing that sets him apart from his mates. The Guinness Book of World Records is filled with people like Mike Carmichael, who’s added 17,994 coats of paint to a baseball, starting in 1977. The baseball, which began approximately baseball sized, now has a circumference or more than 9 feet. If used in a game, according to Carmichael, it would be impossible not to pitch a strike. Likewise, Cherry Yoshitake may like apples and may like holding his head under water, but it was a desire for immortality that led him to bob for 37 apples in one minute. Finally, when Brad Ladner bought his first Batman collectible 30 years ago, he likely did so as girl-repellent. Now, he’s a record holder with a total of 8,226 Batman dolls. (I can hear him from seven states away, “They’re not dolls, they’re ACTION FIGURES! Jeez!” Of course, Brad. They’re figures that prevent you from ever getting any action.)
While Guinness has never approached me for proof of any of them, I lay claim to more than a few world records of my own. In fact, more than a few, quite a lot actually. Enough, in fact, that I may hold the record for number of Mundane World Records© held. For example:
- At the age of seven, I kissed Sheila Draves while talking on a walkie-talkie with Kitty Carlisle. The walkie-talkie was cleverly disguised as a scrap of 2×4, and I don’t believe I ever had even a brief conversation with Sheila again, despite the fact she was my next-door neighbor. For you sticklers, the record includes first kiss and (fictional) encounter with a nearly-fictional celebrity.
- The fastest climbing of a crab-apple tree near the house where I grew up. To my knowledge, no one else ever climbed that tree. If they did, I don’t believe they ever timed themselves. Regardless, the tree has long since been cut down, preventing any further challenges. My record climb? It took the time it takes to sing “Mr. Dunderbeck” twice with all three verses and the chorus in between each.
- I was the first boy in Camp Mi-Te-Na history to be named Most Improved Camper and be fired from the camp as a counselor two years later! The Most Improved award came about because I went from being shy and nervous my first year at camp to loud and obnoxious my second. The firing was the result of bad breaks against me and misunderstandings of my behavior. There is an innocent explanation for why, on my first night off as a counselor, I led three other counselors to hitchhike into Alton Bay (the town, not the water), get big kids to buy us a case of beer, drink it and end up jumping off a ladder-less pier into Lake Winnipesaukee. The coup de firing was being picked up in a police boat and driven back to camp by the cops.
- I am the only boy in the long and glorious history of the Newington Mall Orange Julius to be fired for dropping acid 30 minutes before my shift. More honestly, the complaints brought to mall management were not about interior chemicals but outward behavior. Although I was the only employee working, I refused to wait on anyone, choosing instead to laugh at the idea they would stand on line for sugary orange juice with vanilla milk. By the time my cheeks were sore from laughing and smiling, security had already frog-marched me to the parking lot and watched me drive away. Which brings us to:
- While tripping on acid, I believe I have logged the most miles driving a 1968 Chevy Malibu. While the Malibu was a member of the Chevelle family, and not armored, I can swear to its ability to change size and color while going over 60 mph and to protect the driver from recently-opened holes in the highway and vicious razor-toothed birds swooping from the sky. Also, it can be a portal into heaven when playing an 8-track of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery.”
I realize, looking back at this list, that all my records are self-centered, self-destructive or both. I do wish at least one of them showed me in a positive light. I mean, every man, I think, wants renown for his kindness, wants acclaim for his unique good acts, the things that set him apart from his mates. In many ways, all men deserve that. Except, apparently, me.