More than a humble vessel, the mug has become an icon of our identity. Merriam-Webster dictionary, after all, defines mug as both a cylindrical drinking cup and the face or mouth of a person. (Think “mug shot.”) When someone hasn’t had his or her morning coffee yet, “mug” as a verb may not even be too much of a stretch.
With the abundance of cheap, user-friendly print services, we can easily emblazon a name, picture, or message on a mug that silently broadcasts what we care about or how we view the world—kind of like a tattoo, but less of a commitment. Whether we’re at home, at work or on Zoom, it can be a conversation starter (or stopper). To a world bent on conformity and isolation, we boldly lift our mug to our lips and declare, “This is who I am.”
Some people have a collection of mugs, swapping them out to evoke a feeling, a memory, a moment. Do I need a laugh or inspiration? Feeling nostalgic or grumpy? Reminded of someone I love? Others use the same mug every day or grab whatever’s clean and close without paying much attention. I have mugs collected as souvenirs on travels, received as gifts, comped from businesses, inherited from loved ones, bought on a whim from a garage sale. Depending on what day it is, I may choose a mug that’s large or small, sturdy or delicate, old or new. It may even go undercover: for those endless on-line meetings, mugs might contain beverages other than coffee or tea and who would know?
I don't use it all the time anymore, but my favorite is a mug my husband gave me the first year we were married. (It’s in the photo above: can you guess which one?)
So now I’m curious. Tell me about yours or send me a picture!