Every summer we look into our kitchen cabinet and ask ourselves, “What is the deal with all the mugs?”
And every winter we respond, “Oh, right. That’s the deal.”
I like mugs. They are probably my favorite type of cup, and one of the many reasons I know for a fact that I am no longer young and interesting is that I have a favorite kind of cup but I am okay with that since I was never exactly the life of the party even when I was young. I like mugs. What can I say.
Someday I may just build a little cubby thing and display them. Not sure where, really, and given my carpentry skills this may just be an invitation to disaster. But perhaps. We’ll see.
For a while when I was a kid it became a thing in my family to give each other mugs at Christmas. This was back in the 1970s. I liked it as a thing, but it didn’t last long. There are only so many mugs people need, really.
One of the first things I got from my undergraduate institution was a Campbell’s Soup mug. It came in the Standard New Freshman Box (male version), along with a stick of deodorant, a couple of condoms, a few pamphlets on mental wellness and the perils of drugs and alcohol, and a Kurt Vonnegut novel. And, as I recall, a can of actual Campbell’s soup. I don’t know if they still do this sort of thing anymore – certainly none of my current students have ever heard of Kurt Vonnegut, let alone read any of his novels. This is a question I do actually ask them when I teach my class on the atomic bomb, shortly before waving around a copy of Slaughterhouse Five and launching into a description of the firebombing of Dresden. I think it would be a shame to let that tradition die out. The New Freshman Box thing, I mean. Not the firebombing.
I still have that mug.
I have mugs from my mother’s former place of employment – several of them in fact. One of them is cobalt blue and says “Title Person” on it, and there are precious few of us left who get that joke anymore.
I have mugs from several of my own places of employment, some of which technically no longer exist.
One of the things I did to treat myself when I was hired as a full-time adjunct five or six years ago was splurge on a Doctor Who mug. I’ve got a couple of them now, as well as a Game of Thrones mug with my favorite bit from the series on it (“And what do we say to the god of death?”) I’ve got a mug with a map of Klatch on it.
In our cabinet there are mugs from Sweden, painstakingly carried across the ocean in our carry-on bags. Mugs that we got as wedding gifts. A mug from the bed and breakfast Kim and I got engaged in. Several mugs with the Philadelphia Flyers logo on them, and one with the Sons of Ben logo – perhaps the coolest sports-related logo around. I’ve got one with a Lincoln quote (“Folks who have no vices have very few virtues”) that I picked up at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield. There are a couple given to me by my children, purchased at those little pop-up Christmas Gift Shops that spread stuff out in a big room in the elementary school so the kids can buy things for their parents. Another with the Bill of Rights on it where your rights disappear before your eyes every time it gets into hot water, sort of like living under a GOP administration. A Phillies World Series mug. At least one random mug that was left behind somewhere and claimed by us rather than tossed. And so on.
A lot of mugs, in other words.
In the summer this seems like overkill. You can get by with maybe two mugs total in the summer, since there are only so many hot beverages one is likely to consume when it is cooler inside your body than outside of it.
But in the winter – which we seem to have entered here even though it is still more than a month before the solstice proper – it is amazing how many mugs you can go through. Tea. Coffee. Cocoa. Repeat. Instant muffins. Lauren would make homemade mac-n-cheese in them. They are the perfect kitchen implement.
The cabinet empties out. The dishwasher and the sink fill up. We start to run low on mugs in a way that seemed impossible when we were wearing short sleeves and cranking up the air conditioning. But winter is made for staying inside with a warm beverage and a good book, and if the book is too often work-related the tea is still warm.
We have a lot of mugs. I suspect this will not stop me from adding to the collection.
As vices go it’s relatively harmless.