Mugs are a lot like babies. They make messes at inopportune moments, they can be attractive only to the owner, they start to smell if you don’t wash them, and you have to handle them with care. Even though a water bottle might be significantly easier to tote around, some brave Hillsdale students defy the odds and define their style with ceramic mugs.
Mugs make a distinctive visual statement.
“Carrying a mug instead of a paper to-go cup is like wearing clothes of your choice to class instead of a mandated uniform,” junior Ellen Freisen said. “[It] detracts from the convenience of your morning routine, but more than makes up for it in potential originality.”
Junior Katarina Bradford agreed.
“There is nothing like sipping dark, German Dallmyr coffee in a cup from Germany while delighting in German class,” she said. “It’s all about the aesthetic.”
Some people carry the same mug consistently, but for others this can be a struggle. Senior Ryan Asher has been through quite a few since the beginning of junior year. The green computer programming mug, a ’70s relic, met its demise in the solitude of a Dow Science bathroom, an incident its bemused owner deemed “humiliating.” More impressive was the untimely end of his second mug.
“I used a mug that had famous first lines of novels on it. That was a big hit on campus, given intellectual interests at Hillsdale,” Asher said. “I dropped that one in the colonnade in the middle of a class exchange, right outside the library. It shattered into a million pieces; there were lots of ‘oohs and aahs’ from students on the way to class. That was much more fulfilling than breaking a mug all alone in the Dow Science bathroom.”
It might be worth asking Asher how his current mug, emblazoned with the Colorado state flag, is faring.
For Bradford, using the right mug is imperative to proper appreciation of the drink held within.
“I am very particular about my mugs having thin rims — it retains the flavor of the beverage better.”
Disdaining teacups, Freisen generally prefers black or green tea, “but coffee always makes an appearance when I start writing term papers.”
Her current mug of choice?
“I got a squirrel mug this Christmas that says ‘bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,’ which isn’t quite as inspiring as the beatitudes, but the squirrel is honestly a lot cuter than Blessed Pier Giorgio, so I might throw that into the rotation.”
Mugs are remarkable way to catch a tiny glimpse into someone’s soul. Does the person carry their mug around daily or only every so often? Now look at the designs. Consider the shape and size. Pick up on the hues and intricacy of the pattern. Take note of pictures and quotations ringing the outside.
“I like to switch up the mugs depending on what I am drinking and what mood I am in,” Bradford said. “I have to admit that sometimes my daily mug choice depends on the outfit that I am wearing… yes, I might coordinate my mug to my outfit. It is one of the many factors that goes into choosing my daily mug.”
Watch for her favorite one, porcelain painted with strawberries, and ask her about its German ancestry.
Bradford also has tragic, mug-shattering tales, courtesy of long cross-country flights, so this leaves senior Dani Ruedisueli standing with a nearly perfect record of intact mugs — but only nearly perfect.
“During my freshman year I had my mug hooked onto my backpack,” Ruedisueli said. “As I was walking up from MacIntyre I slipped on the icy crosswalk in the middle of the road. I fell on my side and my bag slammed the ground. My cup survived, but it now has a decent sized chip on the bottom edge.”
Ruedisueli commented on the weird stares people give her religious-themed mug, but what matters more to her is the sense of hominess so small an object can bring to the hectic days of college.
Carrying a mug demands thoughtfulness and carefulness. This doesn’t mean everyone who carries a mug will be careful and thoughtful, but it shows they care about and enjoy what they are drinking. They have taken the time to plan out their day (pro tip: coffee is a dollar or less at AJs and Jitters if you BYOM).
Asher takes pride in his dexterity while holding a mug: “I’ve learned how to walk quickly to class with a full mug of coffee, holding books in one hand, and I can still open doors. I’m proud of that accomplishment. The little things add up.”
Transporting a full mug requires self-awareness, and like Freisen said earlier, it gives one a chance to make a statement. But even more than originality or uniqueness, a mug it is a silent, welcoming invitation to conversation, and those holding them have an interest in the people and the world around them.
“My Penguin Christmas mug received much attention in Dr. Stephens’ Ancient Philosophy class last semester,” Bradford said. “When I started bringing Benny to class last December, he received a lot of compliments. He’s a keeper.”