When my younger son told me that the prize for selling at least one item in his school’s fundraiser was a Rubik’s Cube eraser, I wasn’t too excited. I’m not excited by school fundraisers to begin with, though I do take the brochures to work and leave them in the breakroom for my co-workers to browse through. (Throughout the fall months, there is a steady succession of fundraiser brochures for different schools and community groups, often including multiples of the same fundraiser because our department has a lot of parents of school-age kids.)
My son gets a lot of erasers in goodie bags at holidays, and I couldn’t see much reason to be excited about another one. They are bright and colorful and sometimes cute, in every imaginable shape and theme: Christmas trees, smileys, rainbows, basketballs… just take a look at an Oriental Trading catalog to find dozens more. But I’d never seen a Rubik’s Cube eraser. I wondered if it was supposed to go on the end of a pencil or not.
When the fundraiser items arrived today, I found a colorful rubber cube, but it didn’t look a bit like a Rubik’s Cube. And the packing list just called it a “Cube Eraser.” But he was thrilled with it, and promptly asked me to unwrap it so he could take it apart. Take it apart? How do you take an eraser apart? I thought it was just going to look like a puzzle, not actually be one.
He handed me the six pieces, and I realized that it was in fact a puzzle, but unrelated to Rubik’s famous puzzle except for being in the shape of a cube. So I started putting it back together for him, taking advantage of the letters debossed on each side (debossing is the opposite of embossing – the letters are indented instead of raised). But after putting together A, B, C, and D, I found that E and F didn’t fit. I rearranged the first four, and the openings left were very close to E and F – but not quite right.
I began to see why one might confuse it with a Rubik’s Cube. I’m sure there are nearly as many ways to put together the first four sides as there are with a Rubik’s Cube (which can be arranged in approximately 43 quintillion ways), but there are enough to keep one puzzling for quite some time. You get tantalizingly close, but not quite there. Pretty soon you’re back at the beginning, trying to remember if you tried this particular arrangement before.
I looked online to find a picture of the Cube Eraser to include here. And with this picture in front of me, I was able to put the cube back together (though it still took a couple tries to orient the pieces correctly).
I also started wondering if maybe the word Cube in the name had a double meaning – a puzzle for workers in cubicles to play with when they’re tired of whatever work they’re supposed to be doing. One could argue that it was there to use as an eraser, since it is in fact an eraser – or more precisely, six erasers. Though where I work, I can’t think of any use it would have, since virtually all our work is done on the computer, and when a co-worker looked through the office supplies yesterday for a pencil, there were none. (We do use pens and highlighters.)
I have no idea where you can get one, since the one place I found it online says it’s out of stock. But if you happen to have a child doing a fundraiser at school, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get one of these too.