Thursday, August 4, 2011

I set a world record

Never Done: I set a world record

Dan Rollman is a very cool guy who founded RecordSetter, a social platform for world records, built on a belief that everyone can be the world's best at something. When an article about Madhu Kaza's bedtime story art project, Here Is Where We Meet, appeared in Brooklyn Based and featured an interview with me (because Madhu had come to my house and read to me) and mentioned my Never Done year, Dan got in touch with me and suggested I should set a world record. Of course, I immediately knew he was right.

His idea is that it's hard to set the record in something that lots of people have tried to set the record in, but if you make your endeavor specific and quantifiable enough, you can probably corner the market on it. Since Dan reached out to me, I've been thinking about records to set and records to break. I've had big schemes and little ones. I've thought about records to set with large groups of friends, and all by myself. I've thought of records that mean something, and some that are just silly. I was pretty sure that my first one would mean something. And then I got home, extra tired, at the end of a long day in which two of my four meetings canceled, but I didn't find out about one til I was already there, and the other one was the geographical bridge meeting between the remaining two, and without it, I had to travel from the flower district to the Upper West Side and back to Flatiron and back to the UWS in the space of 2 hours. It's not like I was harnessing and mounting my own camel or anything -- just taking the subway and reading Bossypants. But anyhow, I got tired, and when I got home I hadn't done a Never Done activity yet. I mean, I had done plenty, but they were boring, and I'm trying hard not to be repetitive and boring. So as I lay on the couch after dinner, whining about how I hadn't done a Never Done activity yet, Josh brainstormed. I passed on a couple ideas, but then he suggested the hula hoop.

Great. Now, what to do with the hula hoop? Records must be quantifiable, breakable, and include indisputable media evidence. Ideas I rejected but that I knew I could do: most hula hoop rotations while drinking tea out of a dainty teacup; most hula hoop rotations while mending some torn shorts; most hula hoop rotations while listening to a particular song. Ooh, that one got me closer. I Googled "Hula Hoop song" and got a couple strange ones before I got Teresa Brewer's 1958 classic. I liked that, but it didn't seem like I would be doing enough. That's when Josh came up with the idea of my playing the ukelele and singing it at the same time as hooping. Genius. I spent about 1.5 minutes learning the refrain, and practiced the ukelele-hooping-singing combo once, and out came the iPhone.

The rest, as they say, is indisputable media evidence. Except that it's not. Once I was done, I realized how incredibly easy this record is going to be to break, and I toyed with the idea of doing it again -- singing much slower or hooping much faster. But then, and this is the ethical part of the exercise, I realized it would be much more fun for me if someone WOULD attempt to break my record. Why set a bar so high that everyone is intimidated? Why not set it at a place which inspires people to take out their ukeleles and swivel? And so I left it at 23 rotations, and invite any of you with a healthy competitive streak to beat me. Just watch out -- I might come right back after you.

So then I filled in my online form and uploaded my video. Once I did, I received this note in the mail:

Dear Jenny, Thanks for submitting your World Record attempt. Nice one! To ensure the quality of the submissions we post, we verify every feat that comes in. Due to the volume we're currently receiving, this process can sometimes take a few days. Thanks for your patience. Once your submission goes live, I’ll send you an email with a link to your feat. Thanks a ton for getting involved with our project. You'll be hearing again from me soon.

And just a few hours later, they did get back to me, and here is the link to my official world-record-setting hula hooping.

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