The Slutty Eye: Big Gulp

Disturbing thrift-store coffee mugs.

What makes a thrift-store coffee mug truly great? A friend once found an official Xanax mug at Value Village with the words "For depression-induced anxiety" on a field of intensely ugly purple and red scribbles. This scores high for hilarity, randomness, and social history, with bonus points for a lingering sense of evil, but is missing a certain essential non-sequitur quality. One of my own favorites is a an oversized mug (perfect for hot toddies) that says "I Internet Shopping." There's someone's idea of a joke there, but what could it possibly be? The puzzle deepens with this mug's gold pinstriping and rings of decorative bumpy things, denoting collegiate fanciness and prestige. The stupidity of this mug is endlessly endearing. To be truly great, however, a mug must challenge boundaries in more radical ways. Like the kind that aren't mugs at all, but rather hollowed-out heads with handles. To drink your coffee from a hole in the top of Baby Frankenstein's skull is to approach the perfect vintage-store-mug experience. But the most indisputably great specimen I've ever seen has the face of a clown bursting through its surface, with the clown's protruding legs forming the handle (picking it up requires pressing your thumb against the clown's upturned crotch). This is more than a mug, it's an assault on the imagination. You can't use it without picturing the sickly twisted torso of the miniature clown immersed in your coffee.

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