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Thousand words about a paper cup

Happy Chappy Nick challenged the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words; asking us to write a thousand words on this picture of a paper cup:

Paper cup

Hamish has in fact written 1,023 words about the picture:

The smooth white hue of the paper cup transitions delicately as your eye travels across her bosom. Fading almost imperceptibly at first, but then with stronger and stronger rigor as the white plunges into shadow on the right side, not unlike the terminator; the part of the moon where day turns to night, casting the dark side of the moon into a permanent lunar night, where nothing stirs and the silent craters sit like praying monks, as they have done for millennia upon millennia.

The lip of the cup pipes around the top, like a matt thin fallen halo. One of the few features to speak of on the cup, perfectly formed and unremarkable at a glance, yet upon closer inspection, sight deviations upon the lip tell us another story. This is not just a machine stamped piece of industrial paper, a cardboard clone standing alone in an army of identical soldiers, the lip reveals an individual truth about this specific cup. A ripple here, a tiny dimple there, noticeable to those who only care to see the cup for what it is. The end product of millions upon millions of events and chance. Some deliberate, some chance, each one in turn knocking the wheels of fate ever so slightly, and giving this cup it’s own unique path down the production chain.

From the tree that grew it’s wood that would eventually be chipped into mulch, to the purity of the water that was mixed with the mulch to make a base level paper paste, to the humidity of the air in which the paper paste dried, to the amount of insects that may have happened to wander across the drying paper and become stuck, to the sharpness of the knife that cut the processed paper, to the brand of bleach used to wash the paper white, to the level of personal hygiene on the hands of the person who touched this cup last…each of these actions in the singular, and together as a unique combination, make this cup not one of millions, but one who looks like millions yet is truly one of a kind. Nowhere on earth can you find a cup that is this exact cup. You can find many like it, but not this cup.

This cup is so unique it probably has a name. After looking at it for a while you realize the cups name is possibly Tim, or Tom or maybe Troy. It definitely feels like a “T” name, and not too long. Tim feels right. You get the impression that Tim likes to have fun with his mates, but is usually within about the first 3 or 4 guys to go home. Maybe it wasn’t always like this, but as he’s got older and realized how precious he is, he has begun to value his worth a bit more and knows that it’s just not safe to be out in the city late at night if you’re a cup, particularly on the weekend. You could quite easily be used to contain any number of drinks. You could be used to hold beer against your will, you could be used to assist in the illicit drinking of cask wine by 17 year olds out the back of the church while their parents think they’re at the local cinemas watching a movie marathon of all the Indiana Jones films (including the last one which I think we can all agree was the weakest by far and went quite a long way to tarnishing the worlds number one action-archaeology franchise).

If you were an unsuspecting cup out late on a Friday night you could easily get filled up to the brim with kava by a group of travelling Irish guys. Who knows where they got the kava from, it’s illegal in Australia, but you don’t have time to ask and they won’t listen to you anyway because they’re playing James Blunt CD’s too loudly. Still, it’s a traditional Fijian drink for responsible adults and these guys and they seem to be having fun. You’re not judging them, you just know this isn’t the way you wanted to go. Now you’re being handed to a girl called Freya who’s swinging in a hammock and taking sips of kava from you whilst leaving splashes of far-too-bright pink lipstick upon your once perfect white lip. As if the kava wasn’t making you sick enough, now you have the rocking of the hammock to deal with, and also Freya is wearing a cloying perfume that you can’t exactly name, but you know it’s marketing campaign uses the image and likeness of either Lady Gaga, Britany Spears, Christina Aguillera or a combination of two of them or all three perhaps. Probably retails for around sixty bucks.

Tim knows this is possible. He knows any of these fates could await him on a Friday or Saturday night, and once used, his weak body will be crushed effortlessly by those who chose to manhandle him and he will maybe be thrown in a bin, or more likely, just be discarded into a forgotten corner of a car park or alley somewhere, never to be thought of again. Remaining exposed to the elements long after whatever drink he once held has passed through the system of the person who tossed him aside. Slowly fading, rotting, being eaten by bugs, perhaps licked briefly by a bull terrier cross poodle cross Alsatian cross wolf cross schnauzer cross border collie whose nose is super sensitive due to all the breeding and who thought it could smell some of the kava. Then once the licking is done, buried under the detritus of mankind and nature combined until the molecules that once made up this prince of a cup eventually have returned to the earth from whence he was first harvested.

This is not merely a drinking vessel to be tossed aside once it’s momentary function has been fulfilled. This, ladies and gentlemen, is small part of life itself in all it’s wonder. It’s not just a cup. It’s Tim god damn it, and he doesn’t deserve to die. Thank you.

14 Oct 13