Blue Cup: An Ode to My Plastic Tumbler

by Katherine Macfarlane

Hey, Blue Cup. How’ve you been. Yeah, this cupboard sucks. I know. Sorry. I’m taking you out to get a good look at you because, I admit, it’s been a while. Hmm. That’s not your best side. You’re fading a bit, yeah? I want to say you’re that Devil Wears Prada color — cerulean — but you’re actually reminding me of the color of the floor tiles in the shower of my high school gym. A color used only in public schools and prisons.

And you’re feeling rough to the touch. I can trace each dent and scratch on your surface. You dent and scratch easily. What? OK. It’s partly my fault. I know, I know, I’ve thrown you into boxes, sinks, across rooms. Across one particular room at one particular ex-boyfriend. He wasn’t right for us, was he, Blue Cup?

You handled it well. You’re tough, eh? Made of the kind of plastic they used to make suitcase handles out of in the ’70s. Let me get a whiff of you. Huh. You still smell like the plastic they’re talking about in The Graduate. Yeah, you were mass-produced. It’s true. But that’s OK. I paid very little to take you home, and you’ve done right by me. It’s been 15 years for you and me, Blue Cup.

You’ve still got your figure. You’re as square as they come, Blue Cup. What are you, about seven inches tall? I’m about 5’7”. Do you feel like you’re shrinking? Because that’s the way I feel these days. I’m 33. Jesus.

I was 18 when we met at a Jewel Osco in Evanston, in the MARKED DOWN MUST GO aisle. After four years at college you spent a month in storage in Kalamazoo and every time I spoke to my mother she told me to get you and everything else in those boxes “OUT OF MY HOUSE, KATHERINE!” so eventually you and the boxes travelled with me to Los Angeles, where I started my new life. We stayed there for four years. During law school I poured a lot of things into you. I’m sorry about that, Blue Cup, but I’m the one who drank all that stuff, remember?

When I got a job in Phoenix you came with me again, crammed into a dark studio apartment. I had to throw a lot of stuff away but I held on to you, Blue Cup. You were still there when I returned to California 12 months later. You, Blue Cup, rode in the front seat with me, on that long drive through the blinding desert. You, me, and the toothbrush.

Until I moved in with Tom, you held a position of honor in my kitchen, on the shelf just above the sink, only an arm’s length away, the first thing I’d reach for in the morning when I needed water.

Tom calls you my sippy cup, which is rude. But, Blue Cup, you do sort of look like the cups that people give their kids as soon as the kids can hold things, the cups no one will cry over when they hit the floor. You fall with the lightest of plunks. I hate to say it, but I don’t even try to catch you before you land anymore.

But looks aren’t everything. You are not without other virtues. Let’s see. You are very light, which means I can carry you with nothing but my teeth, leaving my hands free to carry 23 other items when I’m getting ready in the morning. You are the working class hero of my cupboards. I guess that’s how we’ve come to this. If I do the dishes, I put you next to the champagne flutes. But if Tom does the dishes, and he usually does the dishes, he puts you in the cupboard that’s farthest from the sink.

Out of sight, out of mind. I do forget about you for a few weeks when that happens, because I’m too lazy to look inside that farthest cupboard, even for you, Blue Cup. And I’m really sorry about that. Let’s have a drink.

Photo via sharynmorrow/flickr.

Katherine Macfarlane is a Teaching Fellow and Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at LSU Law Center in Baton Rouge, La. Her academic writing focuses on civil rights. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Observer, the Huffington Post, and Denizen. She lives with her husband Tom, a very patient and handsome man, in Baton Rouge.