Coin-snatching and pole-sitting to infamy


I was, at one point in life, an avid coin-snatcher.

No, I didn’t rob children of their quarters at the arcade, nor did I break into the machines at the local laundromat. I never “made off” with my classmates’ UNICEF collection the day after Halloween, and I didn’t try to mastermind some kind of daring robbery of a casino’s slot machines.

I used to stack quarters on my forearm and try to snatch them in mid-air.

It sounds silly, right? Just the idea that a human being would sit all by himself and painstakingly stack quarter after quarter onto his forearm, just so he could violently jerk it downward and try to snatch them all before they loudly crashed to the floor is enough to make you softly shake your head and say, “Bless his heart,” right?

Wow, now that I read that over again, I get your point. That’s pretty pathetic on the surface — and probably below the surface, as well. Granted, we didn’t have cable television or the Internet back then, but still. It doesn’t exactly give off the air of a swashbuckling cool guy, does it? Of course, using “swashbuckling cool guy” to describe myself probably eliminated me from getting any of your respect to begin with, and...

But I digress.

My motivation behind trying to master the trick was to one day grace the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records. It was a borderline obsession for me, particularly one summer, and my buddy Jeff and I would pour through the dog-eared pages of my copy of the book, trying to find something that two pre-teen boys could conquer, cementing our legacies into the archives of man’s greatest accomplishments in perpetuity.

We climbed on top of a playground set, armed with comic books and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, with hopes of breaking the record for pole-sitting.

That came up short. 

I attempted to grow out my fingernails, hoping to surpass the Indian gentleman who held the mark at the time, but my mother put an end to that when I was nearing the 1-percent mark.

So, yeah, that also came up short.

However, coin-snatching felt like our ticket to historical immortality. It held real promise for me and Jeff. We were both pretty athletic, so I felt we had the necessary hand-eye coordination for the task at hand, and it was summer, so we had months to perfect our craft before we were to be bogged down again with the demands of school and sports.

We practiced by ourselves. We practiced together. We shared tips we picked up during our mistakes, and celebrated minor victories. 

And we never even got close. To make matters worse, eventually Jeff read the fine print regarding the record and we realized that American quarters weren’t eligible coins. That pretty much put a wrap on our efforts to make the Guinness Book of World Records, and, once it really became “out of sight, out of mind” for me, I just kind of assumed those records were kind of another passing fad — like the Pet Rock or head hair.

And then I saw an article on the UPI site the other day that grabbed my attention. It read, “850 tall people gather in Netherlands for Guinness record.”

For starters, I was intrigued by what constitues a “tall” person. According to the article, Guinness rules require that women be at least 5’9” tall, and men must be a minimum of 6’2” from the ground to the top of the head. Yeah, that felt fair.

The gathering attracted 850 tall people, easily breaking the previous record of 136, set in Australia in 2009. 

And I can’t believe how excited I am that people are still trying to break Guinness records.

I found another article on the site filed just one day earlier that focused on a British man who spun a cushion on his finger for 18 minutes and 14 seconds to break a Guinness record. Dan Spencer, 33, said this has been a long-time coming for him.

“I started doing it when I was about 10 years old when I was watching the telly with my mum,” he told The Argus. “I would sit there and spin a pillow in the front room and it drove her mad.”

His wife, Hayley Spencer, congratulated him on his achievement, which raised money for charity guide dogs, according to the story.

“It was really good seeing him achieve this and it made all those times I was hit in the face with a cushion worthwhile,” she explained.

And... once again, I’m hooked.

Apparently, the Guinness record for popping 200 balloons, one at a time, is 14.77 seconds. Who’s with me?