About four years ago I set out on a mission to get rid of every ugly coffee mug we own. Well, if they were the right shade of ugly (you know, like ugly-interesting) they could stay. If they were just sheerly ugly-ugly, they had to go, sport. Shut up, this is my logic and you maybe just need to take your opinions and/or household management style over to your OWN voyeurnal that you have carefully cultivated in literary mediocrity for fourteen years day before yesterday*), holla.
So, in short, I fucking failed. Failed!
This is because I have a husband who actually smuggles horrid mugs out of the donation box I’ve packed, lets them ride around in his car for a couple of months until he thinks I won’t notice, and then sneaks the dang things back into my cabinets. Please insert four years’-worth of manic mug-related cycling here.
Let’s address the inevitable FAQs here so that the comments aren’t cluttered with them:
READER: Jett. You’re showing marked restraint. Why don’t you just smash them and have done with it?
READER: Why don’t you just take them to the thrift yourself?
JETT: a) THIS MARRIAGE IS A PARTNERSHIP and I’ve already done the hard part, which consists of bitching and putting some shit into a box and placing said box into my husband’s car, and b) I didn’t bring those fuckers into this joint and I shouldn’t have to wag them out of it.
A couple-three years back I made the very conscious decision to actively seek out mugs I deemed as cool and fold them into our cabinet, so that my eye would be drawn to something besides the annoying mugs and so that I would be More Overjoyed At Mundane Things In General. I think this hunt, too, was triggered by the fact that the Chieftans mug that I’d won in a music store design contest had gone a-wanderin’. People, –so help me God– I love cash, but I loved that mug more that the prize money that accompanied it.
(aside: As I was typing, I remembered how when my insanely cool Chieftans mug disappeared I practically put that thing on the side of a milk carton because I missed it so badly, and then I thought I had let it go and made peace with it except that now I’m mad at Maxim because I know damn well he carted it off somewhere and lost it because that’s what he does with my awesome things that he ‘borrows’ in an ‘I don’t have permission but maybe it will be worth the rage?’ fashion. In fact, I just stopped typing for a minute to glare at him one more time and say, “Maxim. Whatever happened to my fabulous Chieftains mug that you disappeared AND YOU BETTER NOT EVEN PLAY DUMB ABOUT IT BECAUSE I’M WRITING MYSELF INTO A LATHER AGAIN.” The case is still cold. Maxim better do the rest of this day correctly because CHIEFTANS MUG.
The case is still cold, I said.)
Okay. So I started snagging mugs I deem cool. With every one I found, I made a polite-but-firm announcement:
“Family? Family. This is mommy’s new mug and she superfuckingduper likes it, please use one of the other eleventy-gazillion mugs in the cabinet instead of this one. Please. Please?”
And to date, I’ve bought five such irresistible mugs because their design or size charmed me. Also to date, each one of them has come up profoundly broken (bye, handle, you were so useful while we knew ye) or just plain ole chipped. Apparently the hideous mugs envied my affections for the Chosen Mugs, because they ended up mysteriously beaten up with no one –NOT A SINGLE SOUL– in my family having an active knowledge of how these chips and breaks were occurring. The ugly mugs are staging big rumbles when the cabinet doors are closed, is what I’m saying.
That’s not crazy at all, right? I mean, my family would tell me if they’re guilty of destroying my property, right?
There is only one thing I’m really concerned about figuring out, though: Are the Chosen Mugs getting chipped because they are the most-used and loved, or because of the fact that they are mine and mine is the only shit around here that ever gets broken (and not by me, is what I’m saying)? Hmmm, Muffinasses, just hmmmm.
I even bought a control mug with which to perform an experiment. I did the requisite announcement and mild fawning about how much I really dug this Monopoly mug that I’d picked up on thrift for seventy-nine cents. Only, my family didn’t know that I’d only spent seventy-nine cents. I left that part out. My logic is that the less I pay for it, the less of a magnet a coffee mug is going to be. I pulled the mug out of the cabinet once, twice, three times. It was on my fourth reach for it that I saw this:
AH-HA! Also, motherfucker. But mostly AH-HA!
….but not really, I realized, because there is no real way to sort the result into one of the two named categories. But still: These things are mine and these things end up broken.
One day I was out Spejunkin’ (spelunking for junk=Spejunkin’, in case you don’t follow me on Twitter**) and I came across a fifties stoneware mug. It was putty-colored and sported the name ‘George’ across it in this awesome, delft blue vintage script. George’s mug had gotten away from him through death or a change in tastes (kind of the same, really, when you consider that nineteen-eighties coke-loving me thought that black lacquer furniture was the very pinnacle of style and also taste, my hand to God) had ended up at the thrift for thirty-nine cents.
I immediately had a lightbulb moment. I would start collecting vintage mugs with the names of other people on them. There were only two rules to start: 1) Mugs carrying the names of people in my immediate family could not be collected, and 2) I have to find the mugs myself or be along for the ride when they are found; they cannot be purchased for me as a gift. Since then, I have added two more rules: 3) Tackiness is very much desirable but a mug cannot be terrible, horrible, no good or very bad. I know what these things are when I see them but not until then. 4) The mugs, no matter how old, have to be in like-new condition. BONUS POINTS: An obscure/unusual name, for example:
There is a quiet brilliance behind my Collecting Other People’s Mugs project: I will gather these particular things to me because I won’t give a real shit about a mug if it’s actually someone else’s in theory, right? Riiiiiight. You can’t see me, but I am winking both conspiratorially and sarcastically at you and that’s called ‘foreshadowing’.
Plus there is the bonus benefit that I hadn’t anticipated: The name mugs are actually actively repelling my family through a clever combination of being significantly smaller than contemporary mugs and the fact that they have someone else’s name on them, thereby subconsciously casting blame when pulled out of the cabinet. The sad part is that these same exact factors have caused me not use them, as well, but yet I still look every time I go Spejunkin’. Because thirty-nine to fifty-nine cents, usually, that’s why….and sometimes even a quarter. A quarter!
I may also be a little addicted to this goofy-harmless activity, as well.
I’ve found about five so far, but my favorite is this one:
I expect at some point I will fuck up and let someone within these four walls know that it’s my favorite. I am here to tell you, spirited reader, whosoever breaketh ‘Inez’ will be forced to move the fuck out of the house and only visit on Christmas and maybe the nights when I cook too much spaghetti and need to get it gone. If it turns out to be Maxim, then he can visit to satisfy conjugal interests.
Mine, not his. Of course. Are you thick or something?
UPDATE: I was going to include a picture of ‘George’ in this post, since it was the trailblazer in this accidental project. George is absolutely nowhere to be found and the family, upon cursory questioning, has no earthly idea what I’m talking about. But! George is the only name-mug that I announced with a flourish when I brought it home; I gloated over it while explaining my brilliance in this new and challenging (but cheap! oh so cheap!) undertaking.
I AM OFF TO STAGE AN INQUISITION ABOUT THE WHEREABOUTS OF GEORGE.
*some of whose archives are like playing dodgeball with horrible writing as the projectiles, forewarned
**if you don’t, then I totally forgive you, go with God and such