Sunday, 2 April 2006

Not Philip Seymour Hoffman. The other Hoff

I don’t have an office mug. If I took one to work it would only get nicked when I put it in the dishwasher at night and to be honest there would be a lot of pressure involved in picking the right one. Like home clothes days at school, this is one of the few clues my workmates would have to decide who I am. Because of this, I just grab whichever mug is sitting in the cupboard under the industrial sized tins of Nescafe and Milo.

About September last year I was walking back to my desk and Bec (one of the receptionists office admins) exclaimed “Never Give UP!” in a loud, faux enthusiastic cry. Turns out I had chosen a mug with a ‘hilarious’ cartoon of a stork eating a toad and out of the beak, the toad’s arms had stretched down to strangle the stork like a scene from a rather disturbing Aesop’s Fable. See what I mean. You wear the wrong clothes and all of a sudden your classmates think that you’re the kind of guy who thinks acid wash jeans are still in fashion.

I explained that it wasn’t mine and we had a good old laugh about how terrible the picture was. When I had finished the cup of tea, instead of taking it back to the kitchen I threw the stupid thing in the rubbish. I then took it upon myself to slowly cleanse the office of all offensive ceramics. Over about a month I destroyed every motivational, greeting card or punny mug in the kitchen by making a hot drink in the offending piece of pottery and then discarding it in the trash once I had finished. Bec knew I was doing this and even became something of a co-conspirator by bringing to my attention any mugs that may have evaded me.

So when Bec went on holiday to Suva she brought back a piece of tourist crap that might just be the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. Worse than the 3D representation of the Last Supper that I once found during a trip to Bourton-on-the-Water. Worse than one of those little Asian restaurant cats with their motorized paw held in the air rocking back and forth like a door-to-door salesman in purgatory. Worse than the “My Mom/Dad/Swim Coach/Rabbi went to Athens/Birmingham/Des Moines/Gore and all I got was this stupid T-shirt” T-shirts.

But I haven’t thrown it in the bin. I love it and it is currently sitting not three feet away from me on our desk. I grin just looking at it because it is so very terrible. One of our stranger pieces of sociology is that things can become trendy because they are so un-trendy. Look at how one man has gone from cool (Knight Rider), through uncool (Baywatch Nights), to very uncool (singing 'Looking for Freedom' on the Berlin Wall) and back to cooler than he ever was (The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie). No one decided this, its just some weird evolving meme that probably has The Hoff in with a very good chance of becoming the next Governor of California.

I know this phenomenon has been discussed a million times before but like the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, it’s a piece of humanity that amazes me.


Anonymous said...

We have a cup trolley here at work (there are close to 450 people here so it's a big trolley) so there are all manner of kitch mugs around. The caf' ladies do their best to break them every day with the dishwash, many have no handles or huge chips but people continue to use them. People are very territorial about their mug's, some even have their names on theirs and woe betide if it's not there when they need a cuppa! Even worse if it is spied in someone else's mitt at teatime!

G. said...

Don't get me started on the Witch Hunt that exploded when someone found their mug broken in the kitchen. Let's just say that I didn't know that the Finance Team even had a lie detector.

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