It’s 7:17pm. The countdown on my screen reads 8 hours, 42 minutes, 27 seconds. In another tab, I’m uploading photos as fast as I can, keeping an eye on the tally in the corner as it jumps up by several hundred at a time. It’s ticked past 85, 000 and has 8 hours, 42 minutes to reach 100,000. That will be 4:07am on August 19th, exactly seven days after countdown began.
In other news, I’m covered in bruises and have paint in my hair and both ears (thanks bro), there’s a croissant tangled up with a tie in my bed and my brother is crying for a DNA test to prove we aren’t related. But that’s just an average day for your standard GISHWHESEAN
What the devil, you might ask, is a GISHWHESEAN? What planet is it from? What does it look like? What does it even do?
Well first of all, what in the name of the angels might be more appropriate. A GISHWHESEAN is someone who understands the connection between a stormtrooper folding washing and 4 ducks in a movie theatre. They can give the exact definition of ‘abnosome’ and can tell you about the magnificent creature known as the Wooster. To be a GISHWHESEAN is to be a homo sapien and to date, they’re only found on Earth. Often they appear incredibly similar to other homo sapiens, though usually with a more edible taste in clothing. Who doesn’t love toast underwear?
What do they do, now that’s the question worth a trip to Vancouver. There are a lot of answers. They do insane things. They make art. They murder normalcy. They don’t sleep. They commit random acts of kindness. They worship their Overlord.
In essence, a GISHWHESEAN is a human being with one vital difference. They are a participant in the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen. Also known as GISHWHES. There are thousands of them, scattered across the planet, divided into teams of 15 and attempting to create and achieve as many items as they can from The List. In seven days. With over 100 items on the list each year, this is a seemingly impossible task. How on earth is one supposed to make a dress out of watermelon rind while selling an e-book to Jeff Bezos? In addition to helping break the Guinness World Record for “Largest online photo album of hugs” no less!
6.9 billion. According to the GISHWHES website, that is the approximate number of people in the world. Coincidentally it also happens to be the number of potential allies you have. The secret to success (aside from being creative and having fun) is networking. Maybe your cousin’s baby sitter’s penpal can speak in Shakespearean. Perfect! That’s Item 2 (Order your favourite fast food. Place your order in Shakespearean verse) ticked off. Grab your co-worker’s 4 year old, gel up their hair kind of crazy, then record them explaining Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Easy.
The slogan for GISHWHES is ‘Death to Normalcy’. GISHWHESEANS take this slogan with both hands and do one better. They prove that crazy does work. Certainly your gym will let you attend a spin class in full SCUBA gear. Yes, a nun will go down a waterslide in her habit if you ask nicely. Most importantly, it is possible to break a world record in a week. The point to GISHWHES is art. It may be insane, it may be hard, it may cause extreme cases of sleep deprivation. But GISHWHESEANS make their unconventional art, improving the world one item at a time.
Improve the world, I hear you ask. What does Oscar winners and stormtroopers have to do with improving the world?
Welcome to the flip side of the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen. Amidst the crazy, impossible items are the items that change peoples’ lives, one random act of kindness at a time. Do a stealth act of kindness for someone at work. Bring a homeless person their favourite food. Crazy isn’t just the end of normal, it helps change the world. Why else would you find Mrs McIndoe taking a photo of public service workers (a police officer or two, a fireman, a paramedic and a teacher) eating pie with someone (aka me) wearing a croissant? In 2012, Item 1 was to help “shatter the Guinness World Record for the ‘Most Pledges to Commit a Random Act of Kindness.’” The 2013 generation of GISHWHESEANS are trying to get 100,000 photos of people hugging before the week is up. To participate in GISHWHES is not just to unleash the crazy but to uncover the kindness as well.
So who runs this culmination of watermelon and toast into a record smashing hunt? You’d think they’d have to be utterly mad. And you would be dead on, one hundred percent right. Meet Misha Collins, aka the Overlord. An actor in his spare time, he’s best known for his role as Castiel, an angel on the CW show Supernatural. Since 2011, Misha along with an undisclosed number of staff and “volunteers” have run the hunt. Each year they up the ante, attempting to break more world records than the year before while spreading the kindness and raising money for the charity Random Acts. As you can probably guess from the name, Random Acts is about encouraging acts of kindness and yes; Misha did have something to do with starting it.
It’s 3:35am. The countdown will read something like 32 minutes. I can’t see it because one of my teammates, a lovely Melbournite who I have dubbed Sarah-who-is-Sam, has informed me that it is actually in my best interests to have a shower and go to bed. That’s okay. We hit 100,000 hugs somewhere around 2am. So to all those bemused people who had to handle the excited babble of a GISHWHESEAN asking for a hug with the sign ‘GISHWHES wuvs Hugs’, thank you. You helped us smash the previous record of 64,069 by about 40,000. Well done. And to all the others, if you lent a typewriter or a quoit set or your dogs. If you explained the inevitable return of the telegraph or let me dress you up in kale camouflage. If you took photos or posed for photos or let me commandeer your birthday for photos. Do you realize what this means? You’ve been a part of a global quest to make art. You’ve helped get to Overlord a step closer to conquering the world with kindness. And you’ve helped this GISHWHESEAN both prove and discover that crazy works. From myself and on behalf of Team ThepurgLovesthumpersomigosLovesCroissantLovesTheTWCALovesJustice League, thank you.
 Incidentally, the term ‘standard GISHWHESEAN’ is an oxymoron. There’s no such thing.
 The answer is probably Stephanie Cocking.
 You can break 3 if you try hard enough.
 You may also have heard me mention him once or twice. Or a million times.
 It also means that when I say toast makes really bad underwear, you should trust me.