|The one pictured above isn't mine.It's one you |
can order from The Pencil Grip.
My work at BNR kept me busy most of the time, but the other co-ops and I often had free time with nothing much to do other than send messages to each other via something new called "Instant Messaging," or play a relatively obscure computer game called "Tetris." Even with instant messaging and Tetris, however, we still got bored. One of the ways we alleviated our boredom was by taking handfuls of rubber bands and wrapping them around each other until they formed a rubber band ball. Most co-ops had a rubber band ball the size of a golf ball on their desks. One guy even had one as big as a baseball.
Well, mine was larger. A lot larger. If I had to guess, my rubber band ball was a good deal larger than a softball. You see, when I obsess, I tend to drench myself in my obsessions. I drown in them. Golf ball and baseball size just didn't work for me. I had to beat everyone, and I had to beat them bad.
When I left BNR, I managed to sneak my rubber band ball home. Since that time, I've never needed to purchase rubber bands again. The ball has gotten noticeably smaller over the years as I've used the rubber bands, and is now a little smaller than a softball.
Now I'm not a superstitious man. I walk under ladders, I cross the paths of black cats, and I live a normal life on Friday the 13th. But for some reason, I have a superstition about the rubber band ball. My fear is that when all the rubber bands have been removed and the ball disappears, my life will end. Boom. Over. Finished. Just like that.
I know, I know. My belief is silly, stupid, and completely false.
And yet, over the years, I've never taken the ball apart to see what would happen. I keep it safe in a top drawer out of my son's reach, where I can use it every now and then when the need arises. I've thought about placing the ball in a safety deposit box at the bank, or adding more rubber bands to it as it gets smaller, but somehow, this goes against the grain of the superstition. I don't think I can defeat it that way. Of course, it's my superstition. I own it, which means I can make whatever rules and corollaries I want. But I don't really want to change the rules. In some perverse way, it's fun having my own private superstition. Besides, this is a game I can play forever, to see if I can outlive the rubber band ball.
By the way, I used six rubber bands this morning to seal some plastic pasta containers.
You see? No fear.
[NOTE: I used to run a fairly successful blog titled The SaltwaterPizza Blog. I recently came across the article above while re-reading that blog, and decided I liked the article enough to repost it here. For the record, I originally wrote Rubber Band Lifeline on April 21, 2004.]