Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What I Remember from the 1977 Guinness Book of World Records


There was some miser, Hetty Green? Meanest woman in the world. She parlayed two scraps of soap into an incalculable fortune; a sum to rival any captain of industry's.

There she was walking across the gunmetal cobblestones of some Manhattan alley. Corseted and severe. Her grim and unforgiving mouth curled by the faintest trace of terror.

What was a miser, in fact? I had no idea.

She seemed to know she was despised. Yet in her pride she could not fathom why.


A man in the shade of a fairground tent hung his head over a paper plate splattered with ropes of spaghetti. He ate more of it in 21 seconds, or something, than any man before him.

His head hung like a penitent's, or like a hajji's, finally arrived. Bowing tremulously to pray.

Beside the plate was a paper cup bearing the Coca-Cola ribbon. I imagined the sweet, cold and dark liquid flowing over my tongue. Soaking my thirsty throat in prickly bubbles.


A tiny man on a massive rock formed like a bridge, somewhere in the West.


The fattest man in the world who had to be buried in a piano case. Three questions nagged me:

What did he do before he died?

Who came to the funeral?

What did they do with the piano?