My weekend visit to Benjamin Hanby's house left me with some time to kill.
This might not have been the case had Ben not sadly died of tuberculosis at the age of 33. Although I tried to imagine how much more stuff he might have been able to accumulate and leave behind for me to gawk at had he lived twice or even three times as long, I'm afraid my mind simply wasn't up to the task. I'm going to blame the unseasonably cold weather for that.
Whatever the actual cause of my inability may have been, the fact remains that my appetite for Very Old Things had merely been teased, not satisfied, so I headed over to one of my favorite antique shops. It wasn't very far away, and I knew that if it somehow failed to completely fulfill my desire to be reminded that there really are things in this world older than I am, I might at least catch an invigorating glimpse of the cat that lived there.
According to a newspaper article that had once been written about this cat (apparently on a slow news day when Bush was making the world a worse place at only half his usual pace), his name was Stinky.
According to a photo that accompanied this story, Stinky likes to sleep atop the vintage jewelry that's stored in one of the shop cases, so that's where I first looked for him when I got there.
The rascal snuck up on me from behind while I was thus occupied.
I don't know why or how this Maine coon cat got the name Stinky. I've never noticed a stench emanating from the pampered animal's hide during my visits, but I admit that I've never bent down and sniffed him, either. I'm not even sure that public cat sniffing is legal in my state. Better to be safe than fined and jailed, I always say.
Turns out that Stinky really hadn't intentionally snuck up on me. The shop's owner had merely directed the beam of a laser pointer in my general direction and Stinky had followed it. My own cat had merely looked at me with a contemptuous "You have GOT to be kidding!" expression whenever I'd tried to play such games with him, but Stinky was mesmerized. Had the shop owner directed the beam of his laser pointer at the moon, Stinky would undoubtedly now be clawing around in the dust of the Sea of Tranquility or its equivalent.
Despite such excitement, I managed to slowly make my way through the shop in search of the two or three specific things I look for whenever I'm in a place that sells antiques. (I'd tell you what they are, but then you'd just go out there and look for them as well, driving up the price. Well, consider your evil plans foiled!)
It's a fairly big shop, recently made even bigger by what I hope was a legal expansion into the shop next door, but... nothing really grabbed my interest (Stinky excepted) until I happened upon a few cups with a strange little inner rim.
Here's a photo I found online of the sort of thing I'm talking about:
I had no idea what they might be used for, having never seen anything like them. A sippy cup was perhaps the closest thing I'd ever seen, but it didn't seem too likely to me that elegant Victorian women would have spent good money on fine porcelain versions of sippy cups for themselves or even their most spoiled children.
Fortunately, my Significant Other was soon by my side, providing enlightenment.
"That's a mustache cup. Haven't you ever seen a mustache cup? I first saw them a long, long time ago! I know *all* about them. That makes ME smarter than you - and a better person, too! Hahahahahahahahaha!!!"
Or words to that effect.
According to S.O., mustache cups were used by men with mustaches. The little inner rim allegedly helped keep their mustaches out of their drinks (and vice versa) at a time when men apparently weren't willing to go thirsty just so they could sport a bit of dry facial hair above their upper lips.
It all seemed pretty surreal to me. Which is to say that it seemed both weird and unexpected. Nothing in my many years on this planet had prepared me for the moment I first laid eyes on a mustache cup.
What might I not come across next? Beard bowls that have little inner rims to keep men's beards out of their soup? Breast plates that have shields to keep the breasts of well-endowed women out of their spaghetti?
Honestly, every day is an adventure.
And I suspect that I'll be resting up from my Saturday adventures for the next week.