Dear Dr. Babooner,
I admire people with drive and ingenuity. When I saw that someone invented a gizmo to screw on to the top of a mason jar that will turn it into a travel mug, I thought, “That’s really clever.” So I ordered one online. When I showed it to my husband, he snorted and said “you can’t drink hot things out of a mason jar, it’ll burn your hand.”
He’s right, of course. But the people who came up with this idea are brilliant, anyway. So I insist on using the gizmo to drink extremely hot things out of mason jars, even though we have a cupboard full of unused travel mugs that we got as public radio membership premiums. I do it to honor the spirit of invention and also to stick a heat-blistered finger in my husband’s eye for pooh-poohing such a cool product.
Oh, the things I endure to preserve my dignity.
That got me thinking that I could market something called “The Travail Mug”. Cool, huh?
“The Travail Mug” would be this line of designer insulated mugs, each one bearing witness to a burden you have to bear in silence. You know, like one would read “Mean People Say I’m Stupid” and another would say “Nobody Gets My Brilliant Ideas” or “My Spirit Gets Crushed Every Day.”
I just made those up as random samples of the sort of travail anybody could relate to.
When I mentioned this to my husband, he said the idea was “idiotic”. “First of all, everybody’s got too many travel mugs,” he said. And then he added this – “The whole concept is a thin joke built around a play on words. Where do you think you live? What century? Most Americans don’t know what ‘travail’ means, and they don’t care. Wordplay is a game for people who think they’re smart, and Americans don’t like smartypants. So what if ‘travail’ sounds like ‘travel’? It also sounds French. This idea is guaranteed to fail. Give up now.”
Dr. Babooner, I know he’s right. But why does it bother me so much? Is the idea of selling “Travail Mugs” really so disastrous? And do you think having to live with a grouchy spouse is enough of a travail to print on the new cups? It is definitely the heaviest burden I bear.
I told Lovable Mug that her husband is a bully, but he’s actually doing her a favor by raining so constantly on her parade. If her brainstorm can’t stand up to harsh criticism, it will never succeed in the marketplace of ideas because the history of innovation has been written by people who were told over and over again that their inspired concept was ridiculous. Some of them never lost faith and proved their critics wrong! And a whole bunch of others spent the rest of their lives fruitlessly pushing impractical notions that really were not very well thought out. But that’s not the point! If you don’t love your ideas, who will?
But that’s just one opinion. What do you, think, Dr. Babooner?