It’s Monday. My latest hair-brained scheme involves driving from Orlando to Lauderhill, Florida to see the largest rubber band ball in the world. Finally, I can kick off my life-long dream of visiting roadside attractions across this fair country. I want to pack up the rental van and get moving; time’s a-wasting.
Only no one wants to go.
I don’t understand. This trip makes perfect sense to me. We’re in Orlando—if you dare to think relatively, we’re really just a breath from the giant ball. Where is everyone’s spirit of adventure? “Let’s go on Friday.” I say. “We’ll be finished with all the Disney parks by then.”
“I’m not driving 7 hours round trip to see this thing.” GB says.
“Me either,” H says, crossing his arms.
“I want the blue Lego ninja in the gray car,” O says.
Clearly I’m outnumbered.
I try my usual tricks. Pouting. A sprinkle of passive-aggressive silence. A sheet of guilt so thick I can almost snap it against the wind. In the end, I’m drained, and still, no results.
Fine. I give up.
On Wednesday, we drive to Downtown Disney to see the Lego store. Forget that we have one in Columbus; this one is different because it’s huge. We sniff it out like bloodhounds. We think nothing can stop us from finding it.
That is, until we see this:
“Ohhhhhhh,” the boys say.
I gasp, too, then clap my hands like a child. “Who wants to go?”
This time, everyone says yes.
I’ve never done this before, but I’ve wanted to. “Hot Air Balloon Ride” has been on every iteration of the 36×37 list of assignments. I thought April would be ideal for such a ride, but January in the south works, too.
Now, 400 feet above water and ground, it is indescribable.
The boys are brave. There’s not a trace of fear in them. I can’t help but be proud of them, but more than that, I’m really just relieved they’re not screaming in horror.
When we land, O tugs at my hand and pleads, “Let’s go again!”
Later, I find a May 2009 article from The Miami NewTimes online. Here’s the excerpt I read aloud to GB:
The world’s largest rubber band ball stands six feet seven inches tall and has a circumference of 25 feet. It took five years for Joel Waul of Lauderhill to create, weighs more than 9,400 pounds, and contains approximately 720,000 rubber bands. The outer layers consist of multicolored industrial-size bands that weigh several pounds each.
This afternoon, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! will cart it away. Eventually, it might end up in Asia or one of the museum-of-the-weird’s other locations.
If I’d won, if I’d been victorious, if I’d had my way, we would have driven all the way to Lauderhill and found nothing.
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