Most mornings, I get up a few hours before my wife does, and shortly afterwards I carry out the morning ritual of Making the Coffee, and I dutifully deliver a cup to her bedside, where the sweet strong smell gently awakens her. I’ve been noticing an odd thing, though: we have lots of cups, and a place in the kitchen cupboard where we put them, but on many mornings, the cups are not there. Thus begins another part of the morning ritual, the Quest for Coffee Cups. I tend to find them in the dining room, in the living room, and in our bedroom, strangely always on the table near her side of the bed, and also, they have often collected tea bags in their interiors.
From my observations, I have determined that these ceramic cups undergo a daily migration, and that they wander the house to prey upon teabags. I am pretty sure there’s a complex hidden ecosystem at work here. For instance, I’ve noticed that if I take off my socks in my office and leave them by my slippers, sometime during the day they will mysteriously disappear. My first hypothesis was that the hungry coffee cups were snatching them up, but I’ve never found a cup with a sock in it, suggesting that there may be some other medium-sized predator prowling about the house. I’m eyeing the casserole dish. Or maybe the toaster.
The existence of a hitherto unnoticed food web operating inside my house has me vaguely worried. If I vanish some day, somebody check the guts of the dishwasher, or possibly the cabinet in my office. They’ve been trying too hard to look nonchalant lately, and could be plotting something.