Saturday, July 03, 2004

Just for the record

A degree in Psychology, a few years in a career which attempts to understand and influence consumer behaviour… and yet the question bamboozles me, ‘Why do people behave the way they do?’

There I was, setting my parents teeth on edge by zapping channels furiously when I came across the odd sight.

A woman was standing on a dais, a look of intense concentration on her face, even as her jaw moved up and down like a piston. Then, she opened her mouth and pulled out a glistening, pink gobbet of bubble gum. Crickey, I shuddered, hope it’s not a bubblegum chewing relay. It wasn’t.

She flattened the squelchy blob and covered her nose with it, patting it down securely. Then, she started blowing a bubble through her nose. The compere, who I previously hadn’t noticed, was giddy with excitement, ‘… will Elaine set the record today?! Will she enter the book of records?!...’

I watched gobsmacked as the bubble grew… and grew… and grew. ‘It’s bigger than her head!!!,’ screeched the compere. If it bursts now, she’ll surely need plastic surgery, I thought. And a wig as well. The twin heads – one auburn, one pink – bobbed uncertainly until the attendant recorded the dimensions of the latter. ‘She’s done it! A new record!!’ babbled the now-delirious compere. Elaine beamed and bowed like she’d just been handed the Olympic gold.

Bubblegum Nose Blow?!
I understand the deep driving impulse to be different, to make a name, to grab whatever chance at fame. (Refer my transformation into an Enrique groupie!) But had we run out of record-defying categories already? Had we stretched all the bounds of cycling backwards, eating glass, pulling cars with teeth and baking largest cakes? And how does one come up with an idea like Bubblegum Nose Blow? Does one maintain a training schedule? What happens when a neighbour walks in on your practice session? And seriously, what NEXT?

The answer was revealed after the commercial break.

A couple stood on the dais this time. Uh-oh, I thought. The woman placed a deflated balloon between her lips. When the manic compere gave the signal, the guy clamped his mouth on the woman's nose and blew hard. The limp balloon swelled up. What looked like a revolting mating ritual was in effect the ‘Tandem Balloon Nose Blow’. When the balloon had been stretched to the limit, the attendant with calipers took the measurements. <“46 inches”, hollered the compere. The couple hugged breathlessly, assured of their place in history.

A few years from now, I foresee their son getting into a game of one-upmanship with the neighbour’s kid.

Neighbour’s kid: ‘My dad can hold his breath underwater for 10 minutes.’

Couple’s son (sneering): ‘Is that all? My dad can blow a balloon through my mother’s nose!’

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