Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Coffee mugs for the damned

A couple of old men were knocking at the door. I was looking through the lower peephole that had been recently installed in the front door. I thought it was there because I was short. Actually it was there so I could be left home alone and people would feel better about it. I opened the door. It was Saturday and I had no shirt on. They were from a church I had attended a few weeks earlier on a whim. I filled out a visitor card and put in in the offering basket. No money though. I didn't have any cash on me and they hadn't earned it yet. The old men asked if I had been back since the first time. Then they asked why I hadn't. Then they asked if I liked coffee. And if I would take their gift. And if I would come back, or at least think about it. I said No, I was busy, No, I would, I might, I will. I closed the door while they walked back to their station wagon. The coffee mug they gave had old man candy in it. The wrappers made to look like fruit so you would feel better about sticking hard candy in your mouth that tasted like shit. I unwrapped one, put it my mouth, and promptly spit it into the trash can. I did this to every peace of candy. My mouth felt sugary and rotten. Maybe that is what Eve tasted so long ago; maybe that is what they wanted me to think. I put the mug on the proper shelf in the corner cabinet and got something to wash the overwhelming taste of sin out of my mouth. A little later I made some coffee to drink from the church mug.

I moved that coffee mug from house to house to house to apartment to house to apartment to apartment to house for a few years. I used to wrap it in this old t-shirt and toss it into the suitcase full of things I almost forgot. I never saw those men or the inside of their church again. I kept drinking coffee from their mug though. One morning in a kitchen that wasn't mine for very long the handle broke off. It was full of fresh coffee and a sugar cube. I was staring out the window at a yard like one of those robed fathers on Christmas morning in a coffee commercial when the business end of it crashed to the floor. It wasn't Christmas. I wasn't a father. I was naked.