Study Guide

The Art of Fielding Coffee Mugs

By Chad Harbach

Coffee Mugs

Cup of Joe

After exchanging oral favors, Owen and Affenlight rinse their mouths out with coffee. Owen fetches the coffee and always uses the same two mugs: "KISS ME, I'M IRISH for [Owen], IF MOMMA AIN'T HAPPY [AIN'T NO ONE HAPPY] for Affenlight" (32.29). Why Guert Affenlight, who is neither Irish nor a Momma, owns either of these mugs is a mystery. But Owen does like to be kissed, and Guert wants to happy.

Guert's inner life is torn asunder when Owen has the audacity to use a different mug, choosing "DON'T TAKE YOUR ORGANS TO HEAVEN—GOD KNOWS WE NEED THEM HERE" (38.8). He takes this as a sign that their relationship is crumbling, and Owen admits that it is. That's something they need to change. Fixing the relationship is as easy as picking a new mug. But the writing on this particular mug raises the question: what happened to Affenlight's organs after he died? Is this more foreshadowing of his inevitable death?