Steve Eaton: Setting world records and facing down Mike Tyson bring meaning to life

Published: Thursday, Sept. 22 2011 5:42 p.m. MDT

I hold several world records.

For example, I hold the record for the longest time anyone has been able to stay in my office without leaving to go to the bathroom — 2:37 minutes — July 9, 2009.

Here’s one that I’m really proud of: the fastest in and out of a Sam’s Club or Costco. You start at the car and stop when you get back to the car. I know this one will sound unbelievable because it can take 45 minutes just to get to the front door of a Costco on a Saturday. but I did it. I wrote it down — 35 minutes — Dec. 26, 2010.

Here's some others:

Most “to do” items checked off a list in one day — 85 — Aug. 10, 2000.

Longest time gone without complaining — 14.5 hours — Dec. 17, 2008 (Beat that record, Rick Perry or Mitt Romney; I dare you).

Most bags passing me by on the carousel at the airport while waiting for my own bag — 201 — Jan. 3, 2009.

Most hymns sung in church in a row without making up new words — three — Sept. 9, 2007.

And my most impressive record to date is: longest time on a diet without cheating — 56 days — ended on Feb. 25, 1989. (Some people think Joe DiMaggio’s record of getting a hit 56 games in a row is more impressive. That’s because they’ve never been me trying to resist a piece of pizza.)

I’m also a great boxer. In fact, I’ve been fighting the immortal Smokin' Joe Frazier today. I invented a game that rewards me with wins in my imaginary boxing world for accomplishing major goals like sticking to a diet, working out or not talking to my halucinations for 12 hours straight. If I achieve 100 percent of my goals, it’s a knockout. If I achieve only 60 percent, I lose by split decision.

I make the goals tougher if I’m facing down a legend like Frazier. (I’ve beaten Mike Tyson now four times. Each time he just works his way back up the rankings, madder than before.) The boxing analogy works for me because sometimes I’m hit by low-blow emails or knocked backwards by voicemail headbutts. In my life, that all becomes part of the game.

In another game I play, wins and losses are based on how I achieve impromptu goals such as trying to eat spaghetti without getting tomato sauce on the back of my head or resisting the temptation to say something inappropriate like the time I actually got to sit next to a world-famous author and motivational speaker just before he was to speak.

“You can do this,” I whispered to him. “You just have to believe in yourself.”

I knew he’d been speaking to large groups, sometimes even to stadiums full of people, practically his whole life, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to offer him a little moral support. Unfortnately, that counted as a loss that day. I knew it was wrong and unnecessary. That would be like begging a Republican presidential candidate to criticize President Obama or encouraging Salt Lake City drivers to take more risks on the freeway.

In another imaginary world, I coach the Utah State University football team and just yesterday we just finished an away football game against Louisiana Tech University that we won 99-46. So that game, which rewards me for memorizing information written on 3-by-5 cards, needs to be tweaked a little bit or I just need to pretend in my world that defensive teams aren’t that important and that scoring 54 points against another team is just normal.

It’s my dad’s fault. He was constantly inventing games and contests based on real life, and he still does. He’d count birds flying by, people with red hair or the number of times someone drops silverware in a restaurant and convert that to a batting average. I started at a young age in church predicting how long speakers would talk.

I know some people will disapprove, but they hold no world records. They have never known what it’s like to stare down Mike Tyson in the ring. They go through an entire day without celebrating in the end zone once. Sure, I feel battered and worn at the end of the day just like you do, but at least I have something to show for it.

So, if you see me walking by very fast, with a very troubled look on my face, as if I’m in pain, know that it's not a bad thing. I’m probably just on my way to unbelievable glory, a new world record and the men’s restroom.

Steve Eaton lives, coaches and fights out of Logan, Utah. He can be reached at Eatonews@gmail.com.

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