What the hell does this mug mean?
March 18, 2015 10:30 AM   Subscribe

It says, "Part time virgin... I didn't plan it, but it worked out that way." Images. What is the joke? Is it a joke?

Why is the second part on the bottom? What is a "part time virgin?" I don't understand anything about this mug, what the maker intended for it to mean, or who it's for.
posted by cmoj to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it a hamfisted attempt at a "my husband and I don't have sex anymore" joke?
posted by zug at 10:39 AM on March 18, 2015

The second part is on the bottom because - in theory - it's the punchline of the joke. The idea is that the side of the mug sets up a joke, then you drink from the mug to reveal the punchline to others, kind of like a popsicle stick joke.

If you google 'russ berrie understatements' you can find loads of similar mugs for sale with much more understandable jokes. Not very funny jokes, but they make sense.

I have no earthly idea what the joke here is though.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:41 AM on March 18, 2015

It's a cutesy "naughty" joke about not having someone to do it with all the time. Same reason people say "born again virgin". If you google "Russ Berrie understatements" you can see more examples of this faux-snark greeting card style office space crap.
posted by bleep at 10:42 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

At first I thought it might refer to the owner's desire for but lack of a sex life, or an admission of only a casual sex life when a full time relationship is what the mug bearer wants. Or maybe it's letting you know the coffee drinker is in a sexless marriage? Whatever, TMI, mug.
posted by biddeford at 10:43 AM on March 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

I would not overcomplicate it beyond meaning "Poor me, I don't get laid enough." The punchline is on the bottom so people can see it only when you drink up.
posted by beagle at 10:48 AM on March 18, 2015

Yeah, it's a joke, but a bad one. (As comedian Jimmy Pardo might say: "That's not a joke, it's a sentence.")

But, yeah, I think it means "I used to have sex, but don't anymore because no one wants me."

A (slightly) better version I've heard from at least a couple comedians is "I'm a virgin by choice. Just not my choice."
posted by The Deej at 10:51 AM on March 18, 2015 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Replace the word "virgin" with "celibate" or "abstinent" and it makes a bit more sense. Maybe they thought those words had too many syllables for a mug.
posted by muddgirl at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2015

Response by poster: But why part time and not "born again?" If it's part time, that means it happens sometimes and negates the whole idea of some kind of sexless marriage.

Could it have something to do with part time work? And whether it's about not having sex or being laid off, why would it go on a mug??!? Something about claiming to be a virgin sometimes?

I know I'm overthinking this, but none of this is even close to an explanation that feels satisfying to me. Let's just accept that I'm crazy for letting this drive me crazy.
posted by cmoj at 11:29 AM on March 18, 2015

"Part-time virgin" seems to be jokey in the way that "a little pregnant" is jokey -- it's something seen as being impossible, and so people will claim that's what they are. Looking around online, I see people call themselves that on dating sites now and then, and I assume they either mean that they are in a dry spell between lovers or that they sometimes don't want to be in relationships.

It's an odd phrase, but it has been around for a while. I see versions of it dating back to at least 2001.
posted by maxsparber at 11:47 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you're overthinking this. You know how metafilter always says "cats are weird"? Well, people are stupid.
It's not you, it's just not funny.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:39 PM on March 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

I reckon those particular words are a play on "part time lover"
posted by kreestar at 12:54 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Could it have something to do with part time work? And whether it's about not having sex or being laid off, why would it go on a mug??!? Something about claiming to be a virgin sometimes?

Some people think it's funny for their mugs to have jokes on them. Not just any jokes, but the same kind of jokes in greeting cards. The people writing these things are not exactly comic geniuses and neither are the intended audience.
posted by bleep at 1:01 PM on March 18, 2015

"born again" where I am from (the USA South) has serious connotations about religion, and my beliefs about that religion, that many non-religious people would never put on a cup.

Lame joke? Yes. Very bad joke? yes. Borderline not a joke? Yes. Intended as a joke? Almost certainly.
posted by Jacen at 1:08 PM on March 18, 2015

With the dress and pearls, I think it looks more confessional/shaming than "going through an unwanted dry spell" suggests. I read it as admitting to having sex despite one's purported status as a virgin, which also isn't funny/office-appropriate but at least seems a more natural use of "part-time".
posted by teremala at 1:15 PM on March 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

I know it's unsatisfying, but I'm afraid it really is that stupid a joke. Keep in mind that this is apparently a whole product line, and the guy writing this was probably on a deadline or something. I've definitely heard a kind of narrative where people 'regrow' their virginity after not having sex for a while, so maybe it's supposed to indicate infrequent sex. The alternate version, where the virginity is intentional but it's naughty because it's only 'part time' is also possible. Even setting aside that the punch line is a dud, the delivery is terrible and ambiguous.

Now, I hope it's not too inappropriate to tell a short cautionary tale: When I was a child, as part of my mission to understand grownups, I had a scrapbook of comic strips that were too racy or adult for me to understand. When I saw a not funny comic in the paper, and I'd cut it out and paste it into my scrapbook, and then go back and read it periodically to try to figure out the joke. Until it slowly dawned on me that for the vast majority at least, it wasn't that I didn't get the joke. It's that the joke wasn't funny, due to either a bad punch line or really terrible delivery. And I had put a fair amount of time and effort into curating this collection.

Don't let this happen to you. Get out now, before you find yourself building a display case for your bad joke coffee mug collection.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:12 PM on March 18, 2015 [8 favorites]

I think the writer and audience assume that virgin is the desired/correct state for a young woman, and so the joke isn't that she's not getting any, it's that she's being naughty and having sex sometimes. The "I didn't plan it, it just worked out that way" is like, "Oops, I slipped and fell on his penis, tee hee, totes not my fault".

I agree that it is totally not funny, borderline obscure and not appropriate for work (or anywhere, really).
posted by lollusc at 4:31 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe it's a joke for HR people - "I have sex, but not enough to get benefits."
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:46 PM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

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