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November 16, 2006

Rubber Ball

My friend has a rubber ball. It's about the size of a honeydew melon. It's heavier than it looks; it weighs a few pounds. I noticed it very soon after entering his apartment. There was a green tray, the kind you carry food and drinks on, on top of a cardboard box which was under his desk. The ball was in the tray.

I picked it up and asked him where he'd got it from. He told me that he'd made it. I was intrigued.

"How did you make it so round?" I asked him.

"It just ended up like that naturally." He responded.

"Can I bounce it?" I asked and made a motion as if I was about to drop it on the floor.

"Go ahead," he said, "there's no-one living down there at the moment."

I dropped the ball from the height of my thigh and watched it bounce up about a foot from the floor. "Wow." I said in a whisper.

"How long did it take you to make it?" I asked him.

"About five years;" he said, "bit by bit." He picked it up and tossed it from hand to hand while looking at it. He seemed like a proud father. This ball had been slowly crafted by him day-after-day for all those years.

"I went away for a week," he said, "and when I got back it looked like it had grown hair. The rubber had perished and snapped." He seemed slightly confused and distant as he said, "I had to rebuild it."

"You had to remake the whole thing?" I asked.

His response was simply to drop the ball on the floor again.

A woman, whos name I didn't know, joined the conversation. I picked up the ball. "Mungo made this." I said.

She seemed disinterested until she felt the weight of the ball between her palms. "Oh my God!" she said. "How did you make it?" She asked Mungo.

"I just started with two of them tied together." He said. "Then I kept adding them."

"What's your name?" I asked the woman as I offered my hand.

"Jill." She said, taking my hand.

"Hi, this is Duncan." I said.

"It's all perished and snapped in the middle." Said Mungo, finally answering my earlier question.

"I see." I said with realization.

Jill asked, "How much do you recon it cost?"

"That's one rule I've stuck to:" he told her, "I never buy them. I only use ones that happen to come my way."

"That's a good idea," I said, "I can see it becoming an obsession otherwise."

"I think I saw something in the Guinness Book of Records about these things." Said Jill. "The biggest one in the world is like three feet in diameter."

"I think I'm going to start building one with my son." I said. "What a great long-term project."

"It seems like the Royal Mail has been using bigger and bigger rubber-bands for my mail as it's been growing." Said Mungo. "So thoughtful of them."

"Okay, let's get started." I said.

"You are very prolific. Keep writing bro'. Don't ever, ever stop!" — Sean (Denver, Colorado, USA)

"Interesting project. I get couple of those rubber bands a day. I always wondered what to do with them! Now I know. We'll get started. Thanks for the inspiration, Duncan." — Rosita (London, UK)


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