Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nurse The Hate: The Guinness World Record

Most people would not guess that Leo P. Love holds a Guinness World Record.  Well, he used to anyway.  No, it is not for Caught World's Largest Fish.  I tell everyone that was me.  It was for the most consecutive hours of TV watched without a break.  How does one put oneself into position to break the record for the most consecutive hours of TV watched?  Well, that’s easy.  You simply get entered into a contest.  Here’s what happened… 

Someone at a radio station I used to work for called to tell me that they had received no entries on an online contest for a trip to Hawaii to see the NFL Pro Bowl.  This actually happens much more often than you would think as the people that put contests together very rarely consider what entrants will actually go through the trouble to do.  Most contests are created by white collar women in their late twenties sitting around a conference table.  “Wouldn’t it be great if people uploaded videos of themselves singing songs they wrote about our brand of soap?”  They are focused on “wouldn’t it be great if this happened” instead of “how far will someone go to win a gift certificate”.  In most cases, filling out an address is too much to ask.   

In this particular contest, you had to submit an essay of less than 500 words why you were the “best football fan” in the area (whatever that meant).  If your entry was chosen, you would be flown to Denver to compete against eight others to see who could stare at a TV showing football programming the longest without averting your gaze.  Winner would get a five day trip to Hawaii, Pro Bowl tickets, and a bunch of extras like a big screen TV, a recliner, and other perks. 

A contest of this kind had Leo written all over it.  He will do any crazy idea you come up with if he thinks he will have fun while doing it, or the payoff is big enough.  I just had to get him past the regional round and into the contest at Denver.  I immediately got to work writing an essay for Leo.  I told the story about how he and his father used to go to every home game together until his father’s death right before the Browns comeback season of 1999.  He tried to go back to their old seats, wearing his father’s old Browns jacket, but ultimately it was too painful for him to go.  He watches the games at home now.  It’s not the same since his father died, but for those three hours every Sunday, he can sometimes feel the spirit of his father in the room with him watching the games.  Leo bleeds orange and black, just like his father before him.  One day, he’ll return to that stadium.  Maybe when he has a son of his own. 

I was almost in tears as I wrote it up.  The fact that it was all 100% fiction hardly seemed to matter.  Leo had been to a game once, and spent most of the time in the concession area smoking weed.  He couldn’t name two Browns players.  He might not even be able to explain the basic rules of football.  Still, I thought he could win the local contest and go to Denver.  There was no way some regional marketing girl sitting in a cubicle wouldn’t pick this entry as the winner.  The essay was good.  The only thing I didn’t drop in was a sick puppy.  I submitted it right at the Friday 9am deadline.  It couldn’t have been more than two hours later when Leo got the call.  “Congratulations.  You have won the right to go to Denver and prove you are the ultimate football fan.  Clear your schedule for five days.  You leave tomorrow morning at seven.”   

I don’t know too many people that can just hop on a plane and leave everything for five days, but Leo is one of them.  He finished putting in someone’s floor for work, got home really late, threw a few items into a duffel bag, and went to the Airport.  He landed at Denver before lunch. 

The contest was held in a Sports Bar downtown.  Leo was taken there shortly after arrival to the Greater Denver area, placed in a lounge chair, and told that he had to maintain eye contact with the TV at all times.  If you looked around the room, you were out.  If you fell asleep, you were out.  All you could do was watch the TV play endless loops of football highlights, games, and football movies.  Considering he has almost no interest in football, that had to be kind of a drag.  I can only imagine how perplexed the other contestants were when they asked Leo questions about football that he had only vague answers to.  “What’s with the guy from Cleveland?  He thinks Jim Thome is on the Browns."

It was a pretty brutal setup.  They let you go to the bathroom every three hours.  Some people tried to keep going with coffee.  The chance of taking stimulants was erased by them having chaperones follow you into the bathroom.  It would have been impossible for a meth addict to win the contest.  They don’t fuck around with this Guinness World Record stuff.  No doping.  Leo stared on, fixated on winning a trip to Hawaii.

They had a webcam set up, and I remember clicking on the icon and seeing the back of Leo’s head.  I would look at him every couple of hours at work.  One day turned into two.  He soldiered on.  This was where all those impossible overnight drives in the band van really paid off.  You think a guy that drank six beers, played two hours of cowpunk drums, and then loaded out at 2:30am to drive overnight to Ohio from Atlanta can’t stay awake?  Think again smart guy.  He’s been in training for this for years. 

By the time the third day rolled around, five people were still going strong.  The people that were putting the contest on were getting lots of pressure from the sports bar who had previously rented the room to a private party.  They had no idea these guys could go for three days.  For some reason, they also didn’t want a sleep deprived evil leprechaun sitting in a recliner watching football smack dab in the middle of the social event.  Much scrambling ensued from the events team.  In the end, they scored five trips to Hawaii to get all the remaining contestants out of the room.  They had been awake for 70 hours and set a new record.   

Since Leo had stayed awake so much longer than the event team anticipated, he would have to hustle to get to the airport to make his flight.  He returned to his hotel room where his pathetic little overnight bag was sitting untouched on the bed just as he had left it three days earlier.  He grabbed the bag and they threw him in a shuttle to the airport.  Thanks for coming!  The only thing he saw in Denver was the TV in the Sports Bar and whatever landscape rolled by on the way back and forth to the Airport.  Imagine the headspace you would be in after being awake for three days and then shoved into the Denver Airport.  Hell, I saw Leo get on a wrong plane in Berlin and he was well rested.  Leo somehow found his terminal, and floated over to his gate.  With 45 minutes to kill, he did what Leo does.  He went to the bar. 

Things usually work out for Leo.  Maybe it’s because he has such a good heart.  Maybe his deceased super fan father was watching over him from Browns Heaven.  Who knows?  Somehow, he had been upgraded to First Class on the first leg of the flight to Chicago.  Leo is the kind of guy that likes a good deal.  He wasn’t going to let the specter of free food and drinks get in the way of sleep.  No way.  He made friends with the guy sitting next to him, and those guys pounded drinks the entire flight.  He poured himself out of the plane at O’Hare. 

I know by this point I would be a corpse.  You would have to load me on one of those handicapped carts and transported me like cordwood.  I would have been a total mess.  Not Leo.  He was just getting going.  He left the plane, saddled up to the nearest bar, and got back down to it.  By the time he got on his connection, he was good and primed.  Of course, he made friends with the people in his row and they drank their way back to CLE.  As he left the plane, all the crew said “Goodbye Leo!  Congratulations!”. 

If this was me, I would have done whatever I had to do to get back to my bed.  I would have crawled into the covers and hoped for happy dreams of breezes on the coast.  Leo lives comfortably in altered states though, and I think this situation was really in his wheelhouse.  When he landed, he was picked up at the airport by his wife, who told him about a family party at a nearby bar.  Why go home now?  The decision was made to go to the bar and see the family.  Why not?  What’s the difference now?  He stayed and closed the bar down.  He got home sometime around 3am and finally went to bed.  He had been awake for 70 consecutive hours watching football, and then partied his way home.  All told, he was awake for 84 consecutive hours.   

His record has since fallen to some guy that stayed awake 86 hours watching The Simpsons.  Still, for a brief period of time Leo P. Love was a Guinness World Record holder.  He was… The Best In The World.     



At November 8, 2012 at 6:39:00 PM EST , Blogger AZ said...

Leo is still the best in my book. Bummed that mom did not win the raffle for the Pro Bowl trip tho. That would have been another saga worth writing.


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