The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

Here’s a question for you: How many coffee cups should one household have? Or need. Or possess?

As S. and I combine households, that question about the proper number of cups has arisen. I guess then so has the word “household,” which is one of those odd words that we take for granted, but upon further examination shows its uniqueness.

Household. Webster says it refers to those people and things that are in a house, and as a word has been around just about forever, having roots in ancient languages everywhere.

So–the cup question. At the moment, it appears that we have somewhere around 60 cups, a cup being any drinking vessel with a handle.

As things have been progressing here with the mingling of two households, S. and I have often just surrendered and taken stuff down to the end of our long rural driveway and put a “free” sign on it.

That got rid of about 20 cups.

Leaving us trying to scrape by with 40.

Oh come on!

Some of S.’s cups–her being more of an artist–are pretty unique. Handmade. Picked up at art fairs and such. I just got back from a trip to the bathroom where I see a rather decorative hand-crafted cup molded upon the back of a small pig. (Which just upped the cup ante to 41, although how one would drink out of a cup on the back of a hog escapes me.)

Others are more normally formed of clay and such and are squatter, irregular in shape, but still quite useable. Although it turns out that by choice, I’d like my cups to be whiter. It seems to me that one should be able to see down in there, at whatever liquid one has put into that cup. There’s a safety thing here, you know.

Back when I had the hardware store, someone rented a rug cleaning machine. (Actually it was a man.) He was moving out of his place and wanted to clean up a bit. In the process, anyway, a friend was helping him. The question of how to solve the proper amount of cleaning detergent to put into the machine was solved by a decision that a coffee cup held about the right amount.

So a cupfull was poured. Yes, you can see how this was going to end. He forgot what was in the cup. Thought it was coffee. And before he could stop himself, he had swallowed a bunch of it. (There may have been some drinking of other more alcoholic beverages, one might suspect.)

He explained to me that he shouldn’t have to pay for the rug machine, having spent his money instead having his stomach pumped at the local hospital. How this was my fault escaped me at the time, but I compromised and thought that maybe I’d forgive the detergent and just collect for the machine.

See? You should be able to see into your drinking container. You never know.

Now the question appears: What is the difference between a mug and a cup? In my counting, if it has a handle, it’s a cup.

Add eight more to the count, including two beer mugs that have some kind of liquid in them so you keep them in the freezer, very cold, and get them out to chill your beverage down to lip-numbing, ice-cream-headachey levels.

So now we’re up to 41 plus 8 plus 2. Wow! Even after taking a couple of dozen down to the end of the driveway, we’re going to break the 50 number. Exclamation point! Exclamation point!

As a somewhat peripheral comment here, the UPS guy the other day kind of complained that there were so many vehicles backed up down there on the highway in front of the “free” sign that he had to sit and wait several minutes before he could drive in. Blame the cups, I told him. “Everyone should have at least 50 cups,” I told him.

And it’s not just cups. It’s towels. Sheets. Wash cloths. Chairs. Old light bulbs. Bent nails. Unique clothes pins. Broken pencils. Ballpoint pens that haven’t written a word in several years.

Remember– you’re just not making it to average on this.

I think Mr. UPS stopped on the way out, grabbed some stuff to get his numbers up.