A commons cup is the term used primarily at Reed College to refer to the non-disposable plastic cups provided by the institutional food service. They are clear plastic, hold 10 ounces of liquid, and have a faux-shower-glass texture.

There are several remarkable things about commons cups. The first is that they are relatively easy to carry off and return later; depositing them in the wash a day or two after you borrow them lets campus have an adequate supply of cups for dorm activities. They are also used as a form of communication; by writing jokes in permanent marker, one can leave lousy jokes about required classes sitting around the dining commons.

The best feature of a commons cup, though, is the three stabilizing 'prongs' or plastic extrusions inside the cup around the bottom. These are there to make sure it doesn't fall apart under strain; in reality, they function as wonderful guidelines for mixing drinks at parties.

Here is a diagram of a commons cup:

  ____________
 |____________|
 |.`.`.`.`.`.`|
 |'.'.'.'.'.'.|
 |.'.'.'.'.'.'|
 |`.`.`.`.`.`.|
 |.`.`.`.`.`.`|
 |'.'.'.'.'.'.|
 |.'.'.'.'.'.'|
 |`.`.`.`.`.`.|
 |.`.`.`.`.`.`|
 |'.#.'|'.'#'.|
 |.'#'.|.'.#.'| (stabilizers)
 |`.#.`|`.`#`.|
 |.`#`.|.`.#.`| (Note: Not to scale)
 --------------

A cup that has been around a while might look like this:

  ____________
 |__CUP OF____|
 |.MY`LOVE.IS`|
 |'.LIKE'A'.'.|
 |PENTACOSTAL'|
 |`.SERMON`.`.|
 |.`.`.`.`.`.`|
 |'It.comes.'.|
 |.'in.'many.'|
 |`.`.tongues.|
 |.`.`.`.`.`.`|
 |'.#.'|'.'#'.|
 |.'#'.|.'.#.'|
 |`.#.`|`.`#`.|
 |.`#`.|.`.#.`|
 --------------

Several easy party drinks are quickly measured using the three prongs at the base. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Screwdriver:
  • White Russian:
    • Fill 1/3 up prongs with kahlua.
    • Fill to top of prongs with vodka.
    • Fill the rest of the way with milk. Stir.
  • Irish Russian.
    • Fill 1/3 up prongs with kahlua.
    • Fill to 2/3 up prongs with vodka.
    • Fill to top of prongs with Irish Cream. Stir.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow
    • Fill to top of prongs with Captain Morgan's Parrot Bay (coconut) rum.(Normally I don't do product advertisements, but this works the best.)
    • Fill the rest of the way with vanilla Pepsi or Coke.

    These cups are likely common to many colleges, so with these ideas and a little ingenuity, many delightful parties can be started(and finished) with commons cups. Just remember, drink one full commons cup of water with each mixed drink, or you'll be sorry the next morning.

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