Tonight at dinner, make a suggestion to your parents. Tell them you want to break the world record for the largest ball made of rubber bands. All you'll need is more than a ton of rubber bands (3,300 pounds, to be exact) and the use of the garage for the next eight years.
While your parents might laugh, John Bain's parents didn't seem to mind when he brought home a 40-pound ball of rubber bands (the size of a basketball) and began working on it in the garage.
"We liked to see it grow," said his mom, Margaret Bain.
They didn't mind when 1,000 pounds of donated rubber bands were delivered to their house.
Finally, in 1999, Bain's rubber-band ball broke the 750-pound record set in 1978.
"I have always created something out of something, so they probably thought it was just another project," Bain said.
The project began while Bain was working as a mail clerk at a law firm in Delaware. Every day he would visit the post office and take a handful of rubber bands to add to the ball. (Years later he gave the post office a large supply of rubber bands.)
The ball grew so big that it could no longer sit on Bain's desk.
Soon the ball grew so big that a normal rubber band couldn't fit around it. Bain first tried industrial-sized rubber bands and now he uses the kind of bands you see people use at gyms.
The ball needs a new home. After storing it for years in his parents' garage and later in his apartment, Bain has decided to auction off his record-breaking ball. For the next month it will sit in the front window at Sloans & Kenyon, an auction house in Chevy Chase.
The ball already has begun attracting visitors, including 9-year-old Owen Rego from Washington.
"It was huge! It was a lot bigger than me," Owen said, after helping Bain add another band to the ball, which is about 41/2 feet tall.
Bain says he will miss the ball when it is auctioned off next month, but he has a living room full of reminders. His couch, coffee table and end table are made from rubber bands.
His next world-record-setting ball already is in the works. This one will be made out of bicycle tire tubes that Bain gets from his new job as a bike builder.
-- Amy Orndorff