Top 10 Moments in Sitting
February 28, 2011 | Lists
Sitting on one’s arse for a living is no longer the sole domain of philosophers and drumstick-gnawing kings. More people than ever are doing jobs that involve minimal physical effort – hell, even the sweatshop workers stitching up a chain store’s fall line get chairs these days. This isn’t all positive, however, as a slothful lifestyle will kill you faster than taking “what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger” to heart. Willing your body to gelatin with a sedentary lifestyle will shave years off your life and if you smoke while sitting down, the strain of jumping up in shock at just how unhealthy that is might kill you, so we won’t elaborate.
While sitting around all day has been responsible for the early delivery of many couch potatoes to the bone yard, some major accomplishments have been made while folks were seated. Some of the great declarations were signed and some of the great poker hands dealt while people were sitting, and in the spiritual realm yogic fliers have proven that dragging yourself across a hardwood floor isn’t just for pets with worms.
Sitting also brings moments of great clarity: enlightenment through meditation, a brilliant idea on the crapper or remembering that key bit of evidence guaranteed to exonerate you right before the warden throws the switch for the electric chair. Here we’re focusing on 10 feats involving sitting that— like missionary sex with a devout Christian—could not have occurred in any other position.
10) Stadium Sitting World Record:
We have been known to occupy more than one seat at a concert – in succession, not due to chronic obesity. Grabbing a cheap nosebleed seat next to a guy who’d suffer cardiac arrest during an impromptu bass solo if he sat any closer – is a great means to scan for vacant spots, which can be had once stadium security is busy shaking a teenager upside down for his stash. Briton Terry Twining set a world record for changing seats by touching down on 40,040 of them in a Belgian soccer stadium over a 48-hour hemorrhoid-inducing episode to raise money for a charity. As oddly impressive a feat as this was, it should be noted that the stadium was empty of all flare-setting opposing fan-stomping hooligans at the time, otherwise we would’ve given him the top slot on this list.
Although we get as much exercise as the right to vote in a fascist state, our native land of Canada has produced many fine athletes. Among our ranks is a champion of a competitive sport for which chronic unemployment would be considered an ideal training regimen: watching TV. Torontonian Suresh Joachim watched TV for 69 hours and 48 minutes on “Live with Regis and Kelly”— ‘on’ Regis and Kelly, not ‘of’, which would’ve no doubt required a Quaker’s commitment to curbing violent impulses. During this retinal pummeling feat, he was given 15 minute breaks every eight hours to apply eye drops, vacate his bowels and pray for another writers’ strike. (Associated Press September 2005)
8) Most People in One Chair:
We were horrified when we heard that 722 school kids set a world record for the most people sitting in one chair, imagining the 488 or so who would have been crushed in such an undertaking. As it happens they took turns sitting on the chair, breaking the record in less than 90 seconds. Skeptics might point out that this exploit could be bested any time with a shopping mall Santa, a stopwatch and Ritalin withdrawal. (Community Free Press Missouri September 2007)
7) Collapsing Toilets Research Wins Prize:
Like the real Nobel Prize, the ‘Ig Nobels’ honor scientific experiments, however they’re for “those that cannot, or should not, be reproduced”, like, we imagine, genetically engineering a chicken that can peck out the notes to the Battle Hymn of the Republic on its cage. In 2000, the Ig Nobel for Public Health was awarded to Scottish researchers who studied injuries sustained from collapsing toilets. What they found was that far from pre-bout sumo wrestlers stopping by for a bowel movement, most of these incidents were because the pulverized porcelain was old. The doctors suggested caution for those with older commodes and offered advice that would apply just as well in the bush: “An obvious way of using a toilet without fear of collapse is…not to sit down, but to adopt a hovering stance.”
In 2003 “endurance artist” David Blaine subsisted solely on water for 44 days, sitting inside a Plexiglas case above the Thames (which would’ve been far more enjoyable if this stunt incorporated elements of the state-fair dunk tank) wowing the few onlookers who weren’t preoccupied hurling anything they could get their hands on at him. Blaine showed that there aren’t many benefits to such extreme asceticism unless you’re impressing the gods or a ballet teacher.
5) Saint Simeon Stylites, a Pillar of the Community:
Long before David Blaine hoisted himself aloft, this Syrian ‘Pillar Saint’ spent 37 years atop a pillar with a heavy iron collar around his neck to show his devotion and expedite beatification paperwork. People apparently climbed up the pillar daily to bring him food and ask his advice, which was no doubt quite insightful coming from a lunatic who had spent the past three decades 15 meters above civilization.
4) Snakes in a Tub:
Stretching out in the bath with a good book or a good person (the type not prone to reaching for electronics at the height of an in-tub argument) is one of the luxuries of life available to regular folks. All you need is some bubbly, glasses, and the ability to rouse yourself if you’re alone and pass out drunk. That’s on the more pleasant side of the spectrum of bathing for reasons other than strictly cleanliness or doing the dishes in a small apartment. Then we have Jackie Bibby, the aptly named Texas Snake Man, who, cowboy hat topping his dome, sat in a bathtub with 87 snakes for 45 minutes. Either of us would have taken the challenge had the tub been filled with water that the snakes had been held under for a few days, but the tub was dry and they were all alive and poisonous. Bibby wasn’t bitten – despite his name going so well with the past tense of that verb.
Tattooing, like invasive surgery, is not something you would want to rush, lest your back ends up resembling what Jackson Pollock might have cleaned up off the floor. The current record for most tattoos given by someone in a 24-hour period is for a star, appropriately needled under the dermis in the Lone Star state 726 times (luckily, to 726 different people). We say “current”, as this is an accomplishment many are trying to best. Just imagine how silly you’d feel if you got one of these record-setting etchings, just in time for an artist less sensitive to caffeine-induced tremors to come along and top it. (Guinness Book of Records 2009)
2) Record Lawn Mower Ride:
The responsibility of having to regularly mow a lawn is enough to make anyone, even those who don’t break into hives at the mere sight of anything green and outdoors, want to permanently live in an apartment. The sound of some inconsiderate prick starting up his lawnmower bright and early on a Saturday morning while you’re trying to sleep off what initially put you face down in said lawn the night before is enough to justify voluntary manslaughter. Many lawnmowers are pieces of junk that take numerous pulls and countless expletives to start, while others, like the ones you sit on, provide a leisurely few hours of inhaling fumes before your freehold resembles a putting green. Why anyone would want to sit on one of these for longer than it would take to polish off a few beers and let a gust of wind take care of the rest is beyond us, though not one Gary Hatter, who started in Maine, in May 2000 and passed through all 48 continuous US states as well as Canada and Mexico in a 23,487.5 km record setting riding mower journey. (Guinness Records 2009)
Thankfully, it’s unusual to be subjected to a lengthy recital on the piano, especially if you steer clear of hotel bars, where a chanteuse draped over one might momentarily divert attention away from coercing a guest who isn’t your wife upstairs. Unless the fruit of your loins is up there letting you judge whether the money spent on piano lessons could have been better spent on classes for the tone deaf, it’s unlikely that you’d ever have to endure two hours of different versions of “Chopsticks”, to the point you’d want to stick a couple in your ears. A 28-hour piano recital sounds like something reserved for a cocktail lounge in one of the more sinful circles of Dante’s hell, but that’s just how long a Canadian pianist went, with a 300-piece repertoire. (ABC News May 2009)