Every day, I drink my coffee at work out of the same mug. It's not fancy; just a plain white mug with teal writing that says, "COIN CASTLE â€“ SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ" and a line-art drawing of some kids playing skee ball.
The reason this is significant is because I recently realized that this mug has just turned 20 years old. I keep it as a daily reminder that there are, in fact, no shortcuts in life.
At the end of the summer of 1992, my future college roommate and high school partner in crime and I took a trip to the Jersey Shore, one final hurrah before entering our freshman year. Bryan and I did the stuff that 18-year-olds do at the beach; gawk at girls, wander around the boardwalk ... and gamble.
Of course, we didn't have the opportunity to gamble at a real casino, but we did stumble across an arcade called Coin Castle somewhere on the boardwalk. They had video poker, slot machines and skee balls games that dispensed tickets one could redeem for fabulous prizes.
Behind the counter, we saw TVs, VCRs, lava lamps and other luxury items that we immediately imagined winning and stocking our dorm with. We would have the most pimpin' early '90s dorm room at Thurston Hall at George Washington University. We set down our French fries and got to work.
Bryan and I won all weekend. Hitting jackpots left and right, high fiving with every full house in video poker, we probably spent $200 of money that we had saved up from our menial summer job, literally digging ditches at Bryan's parents' house. At the end of the weekend, we brought an overflowing bucket full of tickets to the counter.
"We'll take the TV, VCR and pool table," we probably said in unison, while a bemused employee pulled out a calculator.
"You can have two mugs, some spider rings and a super ball," he replied.
We were crestfallen, swept up in the excitement of a get-rich quick scheme. Our thousands of tickets were worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $5.
But I took my mug to college, and when I learned how to drink coffee, it became my go-to receptacle. It went with me to my first and second jobs, then followed me to OnMilwaukee.com, where it sits at my desk today.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published Feb. 3, 2016
I didn't even see the first "Making a Murderer" piece our columnist Jessica McBride submitted to us over the holidays last month. I only took notice when our site traffic jumped through the roof the Monday after New Year' Eve. It was time to publish our first OnMilwaukee book. "Rush To Judgment" came together in what I assume is a record time.
Published Jan. 26, 2016
Just kidding. Do read this. But we're not kidding about Unplugged Week. Sometimes you need to turn off that the phone, computer, tablet or TV for a little while. It's OK, and it's healthy.
Published Jan. 18, 2016
Back in October, in the middle of the night, I bought a Jawbone UP2 activity tracker for about $80. That fitness tracker purchase turned out to be a really wise Ambient buy: among other things I learned, it led me down the path to learning I suffer from moderate sleep apnea.
Published Jan. 11, 2016
OnMilwaukee columnist/reporter Jessica McBride will appear on Headline News' "Nancy Grace" show Wednesday night at 7 p.m., and ABC's "Nightline" as early as Tuesday at 11:35 p.m., to discuss recent developments in the "Making a Murderer" case.
Published Jan. 5, 2016
Peter Linton-Smith was a general assignment reporter for FOX-6 Milwaukee from 1999-2007, and with a heavy emphasis on state courts, he covered the Steven Avery murder trial extensively.
Published Dec. 31, 2015
I had to wait until the final day of 2015 to write this recap, because I had a feeling that the movie I saw yesterday ("Star Wars") would be on this list. Sure enough, it was. So here goes another highly subjective look back into the year that was.
Published Dec. 22, 2015
I went to Vegas with a plan, and that plan was to have no plan. I came here to get away from work, not to do more of it, like I usually do on "vacation." But that wasn't in the cards, for three reasons.
Published Dec. 17, 2015
Not everything sucked when we were kids. I know this because my daughter plays with a bunch of the toys my parents saved from my childhood. As the new "Star Wars" opens this weekend, I'm reminded that we grew up in the golden age of action figures. Before video games and technology turned them into something else.
Published Dec. 8, 2015
If the RNC finds itself in a position supporting the certifiably insane Donald Trump, it may spell the end of the Grand Old Party as we know it. The decisions it makes over the next six months will have ramifications to the conservative cause for years to come.
Published Nov. 25, 2015
Any time we see "Ryan Braun" trending on Twitter, we need to take a second look. Today, it's because he's in Milwaukee to take donations for the Hunger Task Force, but there are some new unsubstantiated trade rumors swirling around social media, too.