We Are the Cham­pi­ons

Reader's Digest (Canada) - - Contents - THOMAS BOLTON FROM READER’S DI­GEST, OC­TO­BER 1975

How I en­cour­aged my kids’ ob­ses­sion with world records.

My daugh­ters’ ob­ses­sion with world records was the per­fect prep for our fam­ily’s own en­tries into the an­nals of his­tory

“KNOW WHO ATE the most ham­burg­ers in one sit­ting?” asked my 11-year-old daugh­ter, Cathy. “It was Robert Matern, at the Uni­ver­sity of Rhode Is­land in 1973. He ate 83.”

She con­tin­ued: “And the world record for hold­ing your breath— that’s 13 min­utes, 42 and a half sec­onds. Robert L. Fos­ter did it while sub­merged in a swim­ming pool in Cal­i­for­nia in 1959.

“Now try this one: do you know what was the old­est do­mes­tic rab­bit ever?”

“No,” I said, hunch­ing lower over my break­fast ce­real. Cathy had got­ten a hold of the Guin­ness Book of World Records and had been grilling me for the past 10 min­utes while I tried to read the paper.

“Eigh­teen years old,” said Cathy. “It was a girl rab­bit. Daddy, you don’t know any­thing.”

Eight-year-old Betsy, tilt­ing back her chair, chimed in, “I wish we could do a world record and get in a book. We’re so or­di­nary.”

“You’ve al­ready got a world record,” Cathy told her. “You hold the world record for ugly.” She and fiveyear-old Mar­cie laughed.

“How about you?” Betsy shot back, bang­ing her chair down for em­pha­sis. “You’ve got the world record for dumb.”

“Hold it,” I said. “Cease­fire. We’re each of us re­mark­able in our own way. Why, this fam­ily prob­a­bly sets records ev­ery day with­out know­ing it.”

“Name one.”

“Well,” I said, “I haven’t been look­ing for world records. But start­ing now, I’ll keep my eyes open.”

“The biggest eye in the world,” said Cathy, “be­longs to the giant squid. Thirty-eight cen­time­tres in di­am­e­ter.”

THE THREE YOUNG­STERS promptly for­got the con­ver­sa­tion. But the no­tion still had a lin­ger­ing ap­peal for me, so I put a small spi­ral note­book on my bu­reau, and each night I recorded ex­actly what I’d ob­served through­out that day in the way of unusual house­hold per­for­mances.

Eigh­teen months later, when the note­book was clogged with facts, fig­ures and dates, I win­nowed out those ac­com­plish­ments that might pos­si­bly have been du­pli­cated else­where. It is con­ceiv­able, for ex­am­ple, that some other child once lost, over a 10-month span, the right shoe of three suc­ces­sive pairs of sneak­ers. But un­til ev­i­dence arises to the con­trary, I re­main con­fi­dent that the rest

of th­ese metic­u­lously ver­i­fied feats rep­re­sent world marks.

Con­sec­u­tive Days Juice Spilled at Break­fast: 17

(Fe­bru­ary 2 to 18, 1975)

As was the case when Joe DiMag­gio set his record of hit­ting in 56 straight base­ball games, there were days when this streak was kept alive only on the last time at bat, so to speak. I re­mem­ber how Betsy, on the 14th, late for school, snatched up a book and sent a flash flood of or­ange juice the length of the ta­ble. An­other time, it was the dog, Su­per­star, erupt­ing onto my lap af­ter a fan­cied bis­cuit, who tipped a glass. The day the streak ended, my wife, Liz, looked at me and whis­pered, “We made it!” and her eyes filled with tears. I sup­pose Mrs. DiMag­gio cried, too, when it was all over.

Most Fre­quent Use of the Word “Gross” in a 12-Minute Tele­phone Con­ver­sa­tion: 48

(April 29, 1975)

This record was es­tab­lished while Cathy was talk­ing with her friend Jody. (She also said “grossingest” twice and “grosso” once, but th­ese vari­ants were not counted.)

Though some­what winded af­ter her ex­trav­a­gant per­for­mance, Cathy was will­ing to an­swer a few ques­tions. What on earth had she been talk­ing about? Some­body in their class. Who? Bruce. Well, what was there about Bruce that caused such over­whelm­ing re­vul­sion? Noth­ing much, re­ally. Mat­ter of fact, Cathy ad­mit­ted, he had kind of a, you know, cute smile. Then she ac­tu­ally liked Bruce? Oh, Daddy, don’t be gross.

Great­est Num­ber of Con­sec­u­tive Days Tele­vi­sion Set On and Not Watched by Any­body: 15

(July 12 to 26, 1975)

Be­fore we all left for our seashore va­ca­tion, I said to Cathy, “You shut off the TV.” Two weeks later, when we came home, we found it go­ing full blast. Cathy ap­peared mildly sur­prised. “I guess I for­got to shut it off,” she ex­plained help­fully.

“Look at it this way, dear,” said Liz. “A lot of house­flies who might have been bored to dis­trac­tion at least got the chance to watch Wal­ter Cronkite.” And that’s the way it was, Satur­day, July 26, 1975.

Short­est Life­span for a Christ­mas Present:

14 sec­onds

(De­cem­ber 25, 1974)

It was a he­li­copter. Betsy shred­ded off the wrap­ping paper and yanked the

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