Mug Shot


My home’s mug collection got a little out of control.

Girlfriend and I grew tired of juggling them around in our overstuffed cabinet. As long as a few of them were in use at any given time, the allocated space was barely manageable; but whenever the full complement of awkward, handled ceramics needed storage, we were forced to renegotiate their pileup through creative stacking methodology. It was an ongoing battle, and finally, we decided to let some of them go. It was time for a trip to Goodwill.

Glasses and tumblers have it easy. Practically on par with red Solos, they are the economy class of the cup family, easily stacking into snug little towers, tucking away into their designated nook. And if one breaks? Oh, well, it’s on to the next one. Glasses can shatter, tumblers can tumble. The narrow vessels can come and go with little emotional loss.

Not so with mugs.

Mugs have a sentimental attachment that, save Grandma’s tea set, no other dishware can claim. Mugs are unique works of art, individually selected with care and consideration, whether they find their way into your home by your own deliberation or that of a friend’s. They make great gifts, after all. Father’s Day mugs, Mother’s Day mugs, Birthday mugs… Christmas Morning mugs often arrive in pairs, but their redundancy makes them no less special, being almost immediately bestowed with hot cocoa.

Mugs can be ordained with famous paintings, swirly flower patterns, or warm color palettes. They can be circumnavigated with inspirational quotes, bad dad jokes, or clever phrases involving coffee and anger management.

Mugs have personality.

So when it came to selecting a few from our own collection for banishment, it felt like nothing short of killing babies.

“We can’t get rid of that one, my mom gave it to me!”

“Um, I got you that one for your Birthday, remember?”

“But we bought that one together, when we were in Malibu…”

“Yeah, I know we only use them once a year, but… I mean… Christmas!”

The reasoning got more desperate, the donation pile smaller. I reclaimed the pale blue one with the marred lip because Pop gave it to me, agreeing to bring it the next time I visited him. Girlfriend reclaimed the mug that lost its tea filter, claiming the tea filter from a different mug could also fit into it. We collectively reclaimed the Christmas couplet, reasoning that we could store them with the decorations in the hall closet until December. The final few mugs that remained in the donation box looked like runts of the litter, abandoned rather than discarded, utter failures of the heart.

I closed the box, paid my respects, and drove them to Goodwill.

As I worked through my grief, I found consolation, as I so often do, by recalling the final moments of Toy Story 3. Our mugs will be okay. Their journey isn’t over. They will find new forever homes, and when they encounter future purge sessions, they will most likely be spared.

“But we got those from the thrift store, to christen our first apartment!”

The odds are in their favor.

Farewell, mugs. I will miss you.

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