In October, I saw an exhibit of Rene Magritte’s work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It was a lovely and thought-provoking show, and as is my wont I bought a mug. (Note to family: yes, I know we are swimming in mugs and need another one like a hole in the proverbial head. However, I will point out that I seem to have lost my favorite mug, the one I bought at the Edward Munch exhibit, so I am simply maintaining mug equilibrium.)

There were two options: a drab mug with the famous pipe-not-a-pipe on it. The other, white with painted clouds on it, was far prettier, so I bought it. I was vaguely dissatisfied: the mug had Magritte’s impossibly puffy clouds on it, but that was it. No rock suspended in air, no broken sunset, no landscape with the street in darkness and the sky bright. (These are – he made eight versions of this picture – my favorites of all of Magritte’s paintings.)

And the mug was flimsy. The walls were thin – thin enough I didn’t take it to work for fear it would get broken. I couldn’t understand how such an august institution as SFMOMA would sell something this …. Weak.

The other day, the Rocket Scientist strolled into the kitchen where I was making a cup of coffee in my new mug. “It’s a teacup,” he said.

“What?!” “No really, it’s china. Look at it.”

I held the cup up to the light. Like good teacups, the mug was delicate enough that I could see my fingers through the walls. I looked at the bottom. It was, indeed, china.

“Oh, cool,” I thought.  “It’s not a teacup – the shape is wrong. It’s not a mug – the material is wrong.  Maybe a teamug? It’s weird. It’s almost surr….. Oh.  Never mind.”

Need I say that this is now my favorite mug?


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