Stricter Mug Laws—It’s Not Too Late

Here’s a passage from Catch-22, Joseph Heller’s celebrated, funny novel about World War II:

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

We’ve all heard the term. I thought of it yesterday when the NRA, in the face of President Obama’s desire to enforce stricter gun laws, claimed that more money should be directed toward mental health issues instead. I’ll come back to that.

First you should know that January is National Hot Tea Month. I mention that only because recently I was doing a little post-holiday cleanup when I realized that I had more mugs than I could reasonably store—only one of them at a time filled with hot tea.

There’s a mug with Shakespeare on it, one with Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, several Jackson Brownes, four of a different ilk in vibrant colors with their own infusers, one with a strainer on top through which one drinks the brewing tea, a new hand-painted ceramic mug that holds roughly 55 gallons (I think), and several more of varying sizes, shapes, colors, volumes, and compositions.

I counted twenty-three, including one with the Cheshire Cat on it—the cat disappears and the grin remains when hot water is added. I didn’t count tea kettles, teapots, tea balls, tea cozies, or the insulated containers I fill with tea when I leave the house.

I was tempted to line everything up and take a picture, but then I thought, anyone who knows I collect tea mugs will think I’m crazy and a photo would merely prove it. Or maybe all collectors are crazy. Should I even be allowed to collect mugs, given my mental state?

It’s all well and good for gun collectors to be irresponsible: faulty guns can’t scald you or stain your nice white shirt (at least not with tea), but mugs require more responsible behavior. Thus I shall, from now on, submit to a thorough background check every time I buy another mug, even if I attend a mug show and buy from an unlicensed mug dealer. This way, with all my mugs registered, if one is stolen and used in the commission of a crime, I won’t be responsible, since we all know that mugs don’t kill people…uh…please don’t make me say it.)

Here’s the best part: once you admit you’d have to be crazy to collect mugs, then that disallows you from future purchases. And if you try to claim you’re no longer crazy and want to add mugs to your collection, that would only support the argument that you are indeed still crazy and can’t have any more. Catch-22…sort of.

It may be difficult for responsible mug collectors to convince “responsible” gun collectors to follow suit, but Hot Tea Month seems like a good time to begin.


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