In December of 1992 I was standing in “Wake Up Little Susue,” a DC knickknack store, shopping for Christmas presents; I picked up a small blue mug decorated with stars and comets. The owner of the store cruised past, looked at the mug, slowed down not a whit and brayed out IT’S TIN, IT’S FROM FRANCE. This was typical; if she was in the store, you knew it. Everyone got the drive-by descriptions; when she made a phone call, everyone heard the tales of woe and tsuris. I bought the mug, and when my wife opened the gift I said IT’S TIN, IT’S FROM FRANCE. She was confused. I told her the story, and the phrase lodged in our shared marital database.

Many mugs have come and gone since then, but that one always remained, mostly because it had a story. You can’t throw out mugs that have tales. Some mugs I keep because coffee just plain tastes better in them - one ceramic diner-style mug I bought 15 years ago remains my favorite, because even the brackish bottom-of-the-pot swill tastes smooth when it slides from its thick round rim. An International House of Pancakes mug I bought at Fishs Eddie in New York also imparts a certain character to the coffee - it's a narrow cup, and it makes the coffee step up to the plate and swing hard. The big-mouthed mugs with the 40s orange-crate art (“Up and Atom” features a fighting rabbit; “Straight Shooter” shows a grim cowboy firing his six shooter) cool too quickly, and the second half of the cup is always tepid and disinterested. But they look great, and I cannot part with them.

We never use the DC mug - there’s always one or two favorite mugs left, and it’s sat in the back of four different cupboards for over a decade. Tonight, however, its time finally came. All the mugs were in the dishwasher. Gnat was having her hot chocolate. My wife got down the blue mug, filled it with milk, and put it in the microwave.

Metal in the microwave? No. "What are you doing?" I asked.

She stopped - click click click. “It’s TIN!” she said.

“ITS FROM FRANCE!” I replied.

And that’s what being married is all about.

Well, this is the nightmare scenario. Five hours 45 minutes of sleep. Spent all day with Gnat, and I mean all day: she barely napped. Took her to the playdate in the afternoon, came home, made supper, and counted the minutes until my wife got back and I could nap - she had a court date today, and that often means she gets home early. But she just called, and she’ll be at least an hour and a half late. None of this would matter except that I have to write a column tonight, which requires a certain amount of energy. And I have none. Plus, I’m getting a cold.

In other words, Frankie Says NO BLEAT today. To repay you for your patronage, here’s a link to this week’s addition. As part of the incessant incremental upgrades, this one is a long-over due addition to the Bureau of Corporate Allegory. Hah! Thought I’d given up on that one, eh?

The link will take you to the new pages. More tomorrow.

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