coffee mugs are important. they bear the nectar of the gods, java. actually, i don't really drink all that much coffee; mostly, i drink tea. but i think in office life, coffee exists as a concept as well as a beverage. 'wanna go for coffee?' means 'wanna take a break, go talk about the game, get some air and stretch our legs, and bitch about the latest in the office?' as much as it means 'do you want to procure some caffeine?'. so i'll often say that i can't function without that first cup of coffee, when what i really want is the routine of making that first steaming mug of tea.
anyway, i used to collect coffee mugs. at a few points, i think i probably had more mugs than pots and pans to cook in. that's changed now, but only because i can't satisfactorily use 47 mugs on my own. the sink fills up too quickly that way.
i've hung on to a few for sentimental value - some truly ugly 70s ones from my grandmother's kitchen, one with a woodblock print of Canadian geese in snow that a friend of mine made, a few heavy diner mugs that are satisfyingly clunky, and one that says Uff Da. those all live on the top shelf at home. the ones that i use on a regular basis, 5 or 6 of them, live on the bottom shelf where i can reach them. there are a few handmade ones from various potters, one with the alphabet on it in eye-pleasing script, a green one that i kept when i packed up the ex's stuff, a tin camp-style one with blue clouds and 'every cloud has a silver lining', a peach one that i like the color of, and a blue one. the blue one is important because it replaced another one. i had one in college that had a sketch of beach grass and a little blurb about dune life. i left it in the kitchen. it got broken, and i was heartbroken. Bill #1 (we had two Bills, two Mikes, and two Chrises - Chriss? Chriss'? Chrisi? you get the idea.) got me the blue mug and left it for me with a very sweet note that said he knew he couldn't replace the first mug, and was sorry to see me blue, and hoped this would cheer me up. still does, nearly 15 years later.
and i have a small collection at work, too. one has the history of coffee on an ivory background, another is stoneware, one has moose doing various unspeakable things to each other (always a conversation piece at meetings when people figure it out), and one i picked up in Virginia - it's bell shaped, and has a lovely thumb rest to balance it out.
but the most important one is the Official Dunker's Cup. i'm not making it up. here, take a look:
i've had this mug for nearly as long as the blue one. and it was well loved when i got it. i appropriated it from the house kitchen in school. it spoke to me, and i wanted it. so it left when i did. it does indeed fit an entire donut. yes, i've tried it. and the last pic isn't as clear as i'd like, so here's the subtitle: 'as you go thru life, brother, whatever be your goal - keep your eye on the donut, and not on the hole.'
i used to nuke my coffee, when i drank coffee, to reheat it. then the mug started to ooze black crud thru some of the cracklings in the finish. i don't nuke it anymore. and surprisingly, it hasn't chipped since i got it. all those dings? there from the start.
it is ugly, and beat up, and probably should be condemned by the Board of Health. no one else would dare use it. and i love it.