You may be thinking that a mug would be a great gift for me. Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it. I’ll mail it back to you, in tiny little shards, baked into brownies. I’ll even put “100% Organic fair trade certified double plus good nature USA #1“ on the card, so that when your mouth starts hemorrhaging you’ll wonder if just maybe I forgot to make them gluten free.
Unfortunately, well meaning materialists get me mugs all the time. I have a wide variety of interests, but for some reason drinking warm liquid is the only thing that comes their mind when shopping for me. It’s never my love of cats, or prodigious skill at Agricola. No, it’s the fact that I am a human being, and cannot survive without water. Real original.
I’m not going to say I have “too many” mugs, because that implies a certain comfort with the situation, like having “too many” pets, or “too many” things to do. You don’t get rid of the extra animals, just complain about it from time to time. My situation is much more dire. I am drowning in mugs. Victimized by mugs. Drawn and quartered by mugs.
As an analogy consider this scene: four horses are arranged in a square, each with a different mug on top. Attached to each horse is a rope, which is attached to one of my limbs. A bored looking guard says “get on with it” and the horses all race off in different directions, ripping my limbs apart in a spray of viscera.
This medieval execution crosses my mind every morning when I open my cupboard to see a wall of ceramics. It’s not because I’m “torn” about which one of the hundred I should use, although that would be an apt analogy. No, its because I envy the guy getting ripped apart – he doesn’t have to deal with so many stupid mugs.
The Price of Personalization
You might be standing there in the airport gift shop, facing a wall of cheap glassware, thinking “Julian may have ten thousand mugs, but does he have one with his name on it?” You clever bastard. Everybody else has gotten me a mug with Tom Hanks’ name on it, but you cracked the code. A mug with my own name, what a remarkable find. I will treasure it forever.
One fatal flaw in your plan: I have at least three dozen mugs with my name on them, and these are the ones that are spelled correctly. There is a whole other box in the attic of mugs with only slight misspellings. I classify these as “traceable”, meaning “traceable by the police if I were to throw them at someone”. The more grievous spelling errors get returned to the sender, by me, through a window.
The real problem with personalized mugs is that everyone knows who they belong too, so I can’t give them away. I have to throw them out the car window on my way home, and hope that they shatter when they hit the ground. My greatest mug related fear is that a suspicious adopt-a-highway volunteer shows up at my door one day with a shard of glass that has my name on it. Then, after pretending to inspect the shard, I have to use it to buy his silence. Forever.
Not Worth a Thousand Words
After the brilliant idea of getting me a mug with my name on it comes the next one: a mug with my picture. Yes, modern technology is truly wonderful. Forget self driving cars, stem cell therapy, or Netflix, we can put pictures of ourselves on cups. Amazing.
“Does Julian have a mug with his picture on it?” ponders the hopeful gift giver. How about this for an answer: I’m staring at one right now. This is not a rhetorical or metaphorical statement, I am literally looking down at my own beautiful face emblazoned on a mug full of green tea. Yes, despite my disdain for these ceramic oppressors, I am forced to use them on occasion.
And before you ask, it’s a high quality picture, with my whole family in it. The light is perfect, and nobody’s scowling or blinking. Your plan to root through your cracked iphone to find a low quality photo of me with my eyes closed is futile.
And what I mean by “futile” is that I will treasure your thoughtful gift forever. It will go right under Grandma’s ashes on the mantle. That’s right, under her ashes, and the 50 pound iron urn I keep them in. Granny always did love breaking useless crap.
Obviously, since you don’t have any good photos of me, your next gambit is to make a “collage”. You’re going to put two dozen crappy photos onto the mug and hope that the whole is better than the pieces. Well here’s a bit of news: that mug will end up in pieces, on the side of the road, after I throw it at your car.
I Can Haz Mug?
And now the optimistic gift giver has reached the bottom of the proverbial mug barrel: mugs with pictures of cats on them. I’ll admit, cat pictures are a weakness of mine. Here’s the problem: I don’t care about your cats, only mine. You don’t have any good pictures of my cats. Where as I have two drawers filled with hard drives filled with photos of my two beloved felines, Fluffer and Smother.
Before you upload that blurry out of focus shot of me and Fluffer to Shutterfly, ask yourself this: could Julian have done better? Does Julian routinely take better pictures of his own cats, every day? In the event of a disaster, would Julian give CPR to both of his cats before me? The answer to all of those questions is yes, so don’t even think about it.
A Real Gift Idea
You’re probably wondering, “if I can’t put Julian’s name or a picture on the mug, what should I put on there?” Nothing. Don’t put anything on the outside. Put everything on the inside. Everything in this case being the greatest gift of all: cash money.
The only mug’s I will accept are those with one or more hundred dollar bills in them. Not pictures mind you, actual money. Greenbacks. Benjamins. Cold hard cash.
Upon receiving such mugs the proceeds will be donated to my favorite charity: “Julian’s Booze and Gambling Fund”. The mugs themselves will be “donated” to adopt-a-highway, through an open window, on my way to the casino.