Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Blue Cup: An Ode to My Plastic Tumbler

Hey, Blue Cup. How've you been. Yeah, this cupboard sucks. I know. Sorry. I’m taking you out to get a good look at you because, I admit, it’s been a while. Hmm. That’s not your best side. You’re fading a bit, yeah? I want to say you’re that Devil Wears Prada color—cerulean—but you’re actually reminding me of the color of the floor tiles in the shower of my high school gym. A color used only in public schools and prisons.

And you’re feeling rough to the touch. I can trace each dent and scratch on your surface. You dent and scratch easily. What? OK. It’s partly my fault. I know, I know, I’ve thrown you into boxes, sinks, across rooms. Across one particular room at one particular ex-boyfriend. He wasn’t right for us, was he, Blue Cup?

You handled it well. You’re tough, eh? Made of the kind of plastic they used to make suitcase handles out of in the '70s. Let me get a whiff of you. Huh. You still smell like the plastic they’re talking about in The Graduate. Yeah, you were mass-produced. It's true. But that’s OK. I paid very little to take you home, and you’ve done right by me. It’s been 15 years for you and me, Blue Cup.

You’ve still got your figure. You’re as square as they come, Blue Cup. What are you, about seven inches tall? I’m about 5’7”. Do you feel like you’re shrinking? Because that’s the way I feel these days. I’m 33. Jesus. 

I was 18 when we met at a Jewel Osco in Evanston, in the MARKED DOWN MUST GO aisle. After four years at college you spent a month in storage in Kalamazoo and every time I spoke to my mother she told me to get you and everything else in those boxes “OUT OF MY HOUSE, KATHERINE!” so eventually you and the boxes travelled with me to Los Angeles, where I started my new life. We stayed there for four years. During law school I poured a lot of things into you. I’m sorry about that, Blue Cup, but I’m the one who drank all that stuff, remember?

When I got a job in Phoenix you came with me again, crammed into a dark studio apartment. I had to throw a lot of stuff away but I held on to you, Blue Cup. You were still there when I returned to California 12 months later. You, Blue Cup, rode in the front seat with me, on that long drive through the blinding desert. You, me, and the toothbrush.

Until I moved in with Tom, you held a position of honor in my kitchen, on the shelf just above the sink, only an arm’s length away, the first thing I’d reach for in the morning when I needed water.

Tom calls you my sippy cup, which is rude. But, Blue Cup, you do sort of look like the cups that people give their kids as soon as the kids can hold things, the cups no one will cry over when they hit the floor. You fall with the lightest of plunks. I hate to say it, but I don’t even try to catch you before you land anymore.

But looks aren't everything. You are not without other virtues. Let's see. You are very light, which means I can carry you with nothing but my teeth, leaving my hands free to carry 23 other items when I’m getting ready in the morning. You are the working class hero of my cupboards. I guess that’s how we've come to this. If I do the dishes, I put you next to the champagne flutes. But if Tom does the dishes, and he usually does the dishes, he puts you in the cupboard that’s farthest from the sink.

Out of sight, out of mind. I do forget about you for a few weeks when that happens, because I’m too lazy to look inside that farthest cupboard, even for you, Blue Cup. And I’m really sorry about that. Let's have a drink.


Photo via sharynmorrow/flickr.

Katherine Macfarlane is a Teaching Fellow and Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at LSU Law Center in Baton Rouge, La. Her academic writing focuses on civil rights. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Observer, the Huffington Post, and Denizen. She lives with her husband Tom, a very patient and handsome man, in Baton Rouge.

15 Comments / Post A Comment

or Elsa!




Also, you've spurred me to remember my favorite-ever cup, handed down from my grandmother when I was a teenager: a Blue Hill pottery ducks-head black cup in that classic tea-set shape, but it easily holds a pint. I reluctantly retired it to the back of the cupboard years ago when I switched from coffee to espresso, but I have now switched to tea and can use my cup again! OH CUP I MISSED YOU!


@or Elsa! Thank you! Funny how inanimate objects are such good memory triggers.


@96227425@twitter Cup sentimentality! At the tail end of the day my bf and I moved in together, we were exhausted and stressed out, and I opened a packing box to find my 30-yo Bunnikins mug smashed to smithereens by our not-so-careful movers. Cue racking, heartbroken sobs of mourning for my lost childhood. #slightoverreaction


@GoCeilings Totally get it. Still sad about my McDonald's snoopy glass. Thanks for sharing! -Katherine


@GoCeilings @96227425@twitter My partner's favourite Guinness mug broke so I found one on eBay and bought it and now we just pretend it is the original mug. It's a little like when your childhood hamster died and you got a new one: cold as ice, and you will initially protest 'it will never be the same' etc but it works.


Sooo relaxing ahah @n


Now I wish I had a cup!


Strange how we get so sentimental over inanimate objects like this. I hope it's the cup in the picture. If so, it's a cute cup.


My tiny scorpio mug chipped beyond repair today and I am in mourning. So thanks for this! Now wishing tiny scorpio mug were plastic sigh. RIP tiny scorpio mug.


I get attached to mugs beyond all reason. There are certain mugs that make tea taste better, and others that make it taste lousy. This piece actually inspired me to tell my ex that I wanted my favorite mug back! (I visit him occasionally and had been keeping it in his cupboard In Case of Tea.)


ru_ri that makes me smile! You get that mug back!

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

That reminds me: I have to find out what happened to my old Pocahontas cup-with-straw while I was on vacation. I don't use it anymore, but it has Pocahontas on it and it's from Disney World, so I kind of need to keep it.


My cup is the green one in the middle! My mom considered tossing them (I have an orange, a brown, and the green), and when she did I kind of cried a little bit and then took them with me when I moved. The green one is my favorite, and perfect for milk and cookies.


@cocokins They don't have the coaster/covers anymore. So, they're just plain ol' stackable Tupperware cups.


I love it, hold on to it forever. Simple things are the best. -Katherine

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