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 – 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. 6, 2017
Perhaps you're in the mood for eating some midnight sushi or buying a Rolex. Or maybe you want to gamble on the sinking of the Titanic. Las Vegas is your place for weirdness. Here's just a sampling.
Published Jan. 17, 2017
I don't entirely know what we're watching here, but I know it's funny and extremely inappropriate.
Published Jan. 12, 2017
I'm very concerned about the problem of "fake news" and what it means for journalists, politicians and the media-consuming public. But, really, this isn't a new concern of mine. For many years, I've battled with the concept that the internet is always right.
Published Jan. 9, 2017
On Dec. 8, Larry Hansen was injured in a horrendous and freak accident by a presumed drunk driver. While working on his car in his Okauchee garage. Five surgeries and 42 pints of blood later, Hansen has lost a leg, has a broken back and faces more surgeries.
Published Dec. 20, 2016
Last week, I was bragging about the airfare deal of a century: a $66 round-trip ticket from Milwaukee to Ft. Myers. Yesterday, I was eating my words, since my flight home was delayed from Saturday to Monday, then cancelled completely on Monday, with no reasonable option on how to get home.
Published Dec. 8, 2016
Every few years, we remind you about Chief, the hard-rocking Milwaukee band that you should check out. Why? Not because frontman Chris Tischler compares Chief to Van Halen and Judas Priest, although that's a pretty good reason to give them a listen, since they're excellent musicians.
Published Dec. 5, 2016
I wasn't really in the market for a new TV, but like so many others, I got suckered into buying a huge one on Black Friday. I was lured by the low, low prices, but also the idea of having a super-sharp 65-inch television that would be ready for 4K.
Published Nov. 30, 2016
Margaret Gintoft knew there was a chance she'd run into a Clinton after jogging near her daughter's home in Chappaqua, N.Y. Last Sunday, Gintoft and her family were hiking in Rockefeller State Park when she saw the former president and former Secretary of State.
Published Nov. 28, 2016
With almost everything available on-demand online, cable and satellite TV are pretty archaic. Today, AT&T acknowledged this by unveiling DIRECTV Now, a streaming service that will go head-to-head with cable (and its own soon-to-be-discontinued U-Verse), for $35 a month.
Published Nov. 16, 2016
Even though Cedarburg is so close to Milwaukee, when you're in its little downtown, you feel far away. And, while plenty of Milwaukeeans visit the Stagecoach Inn Bed & Breakfast for a staycation, this charming old hotel attracts plenty of people from out of town, too.