I knew that biting sting in an instant. To be clear, I liked inflicting that pain way more than I liked receiving it. There’s something magical about those little rubber demons, they tend to make people, especially kids, do things they wouldn’t do without the mountainous temptation. Even as an adult it takes every fiber of my will power to resist the almost irresistible lure of misusing the simple invention.
I can’t remember how old I was when I learned to use – make that misuse, what would become one of my favorite toys as a kid. With big brothers, it’s almost natural to learn the improper way of things. The specific use of the little pain inflictors was irrelevant. It was the gratification and glee of a well timed and aimed shot that reigned supreme.
I’m not sure if it would be considered a blessing or a curse, but the fact that my older brothers had paper routes meant an endless supply of ammunition for our battle that we lovingly referred to as a “Rubber Band Fight.” I can remember having to be wrestled to the ground and stripped of my ammunition by my brothers at different times to end the battle.
On occasion I’d get up with my brothers in the pre-dawn hours to fold the newspapers and wrap them in tight rolls and slip the not so fun rubber band around one end then twist it to double up the rubber band, making the paper hold tight to be able to be tossed like a hand grenade at the darkened driveways.
After loading the bright orange paper route bags and harnessing them around my brother’s handlebars, I’d hop on top for the early morning outing. I’d get to throw a few papers for my trouble, but usually be benched after a few bad tosses… flower beds, roofs… Who says it’s hard to laugh in the early morning hours?
The big payoff was hot chocolate with marshmallows at the bowling alley after the papers were delivered while the sun was still snoring. While I liked the hot chocolate and throwing the papers hard and far, the job the rubber bands were designed to do didn’t bring me nearly as much gratification as using them for ill intent.
It seems to be like that with most things in life; all good things designed and intended for a good and honorable task can be used, or misused to bring about gratification of our flesh that doesn’t bring honor. The list is endless; food, shelter, vehicles, even a pen and paper.
There is evil in this world and it is the easiest thing to do. Our gratification is measured in time and discipline with a proper heart as we navigate the narrow path of righteousness. Every time I pull a rubber band off a set of blueprints, the old habit bids me seek a live target… I have to remind myself of that fact…
With a tired smile of wisdom… and memories…old enough to know better.