A sports-illiterate friend of mine once got into betting college football games as a way to supplement his income. He was aided by his gambling savvy brother-in-law who was only slightly more aware of the subtleties of the sport.
Apparently beginners luck shined on my friend. He got off to a fast start and bragged about the reliability of his "inside information." The rest of the story is predictable...after his luck ran dry, he hit hard times. His winnings were soon gone and in an attempt to recreate the "rush," the ensuing losing bets got bigger. Then through his brother-in-law's inside tips, he got the "lock" of the century...Michigan State. My friend over-extended himself in order to get "out" and back into the black with plenty to spare. He made his call and confidently bet on Michigan. The inside information was RIGHT! Michigan State clouted their opponent to my friend's delight. However when he wanted to collect, he learned (the hard way) that he accidentally bet on Michigan not Michigan State...and Michigan wasn't as lucky. Upon telling me this news he said, "How was I supposed to know there's two Michigans."
Similar things, confused as the same often cause problems. My family visited Ocean City, Maryland thirteen times. The redundancy, repetition and re-run of vacations never bothered me but some friends were critical. They'd say its the exact same thing as Ocean City, New Jersey but farther away. The truth is, deep down other than sharing the same name, the towns are not alike. Besides, I've always felt that its what you do, rather than where...that marks the significance of time well spent. To me, it was their loss to have never discovered such a great place for themselves.
It is true that over the years Ocean City Maryland lost some of its luster. When my son Andrew became old enough for amusement parks, we began spending the bulk of our vacations in Virginia with the idea of breaking up the trip home, by stopping overnight in Ocean City.
On one of the earlier trips, (Andrew was still in a car seat), we were driving south on highway-13, on Maryland's eastern shore. It was around noon and 95 degrees in late June as we crossed into Virginia. Almost immediately, on the desolate country road, I had a tire blow-out. Luckily, I was able to control the car. Unfortunately these were the pre-cell phone days and before I joined AAA. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere and because of my bad back , the weather and being dressed SO well, I had no intention of changing a tire.
Surrounded by farmlands with no hint of civilization, I did the only thing a real man would do...I rode the rim. Around the first bend, I found a restaurant. They weren't opened but an employee inside told me that there was a junkyard just ahead in Temperanceville that sold used tires.
Naming a town Temperanceville is like the little girl in my son Andrew's second grade class. The students were asked to cut out a star and write their name and strongest personality traits. These stars were put on a bulletin board and most of the kids filled in the whole star with lurid examples of self-pride. The one exception was that girl who only wrote: mild. Now I knew that girl and although her assessment was accurate, you'd still hope that she saw something a little more exciting in herself.
Its kind of the same thing with Temperanceville. The word temperance loosely means; self-restraint or moderation of appetites or abstinence from liquor. So this town, perhaps with a religious overtone was dedicated to the idea of being a mild place.
WE DIDN'T SEE MUCH OF TEMPERANCEVILLE BUT MY RESEARCHED PHOTOS WERE PICTURESQUE.
A pall of negativity came over me as my car limped into McGuire's Junkyard. The harsh stares for a stranger in town, brought-out the primal New Yorker in me. I became edgier when I realized that our New Jersey license plates sent up a red-flag that further identified us as easy targets. At that point, I even flashed-back to the opening of the "TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE" and figured that getting screwed (financially) by these guys was better than being the main entree at their next barbecue.
I caught eye-contact with a shirt-less and sweaty Adonis operating a forklift. If this head-shaved man didn't have such a threatening scowl on his face, he would have looked like character actor Woody Strode.
WOODY STRODE (1914-1994) APPEARED IN OVER 60 MOVIES, (1941-1994). HE IS MOST KNOWN FOR STARRING AS "SERGEANT RUTLEDGE," IN 1960. BUT BECAUSE OF ATHLETICISM AND GREAT PHYSIQUE, (HE ALSO PLAYED FOOTBALL FOR UCLA ALONG SIDE JACKIE ROBINSON AND PROFESSIONALLY IN THE CANADIAN LEAGUE), STRODE FREQUENTLY WON ROLES IN JUNGLE MOVIES, ON CHAIN-GANGS OR AS A GLADIATOR OR SLAVE...OR...ANY OTHER EXCUSE TO SHOW HIM SHIRTLESS AND SWEATY.
A grinning man with clean clothes in mirrored sunglasses approached the car. He introduced himself politely as the owner Mark McGuire and added, "Looks like you can use another tire." I decided he was being too nice and I was reminded of an old "MAD MAGAZINE" article in which TV/movie villains are portrayed as being pleasant and urbane...while their intended victim or the lawman going after them is unsophisticated in his crudeness, (try watching the verbal exchange between Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis Professor Moriarty). Plus, this gentleman had the audacity to use his full name as an obvious infringement on baseball's heroic homerun king Mark McGwire.
I tried to avoid coming-off as defensive and grunted, "Yeah." "I have a tire that'll get y'all back on the road but it'll be a few minutes before my people can get to it." I said, "Okay." When we remained in the car McGuire came back and said, ""Y'all'll be more comfortable in my office." "That's okay, we'll just stretch our legs." After about twenty minutes McGuire came by and asked, "I'm sending a kid out for lunch...what can I get for you?" We were so uptight, we feigned sincerity and said, "Thanks, no." The Woody Strode look-alike was taking our lug nuts off when McGuire added, "Y'all sure you don't want to get out of the sun?" When I shrugged he asked, "How about a Mr. Pibb or a Pepsi for your little man?" I smiled and said, "No."
Our shredded tire was removed and a beat-up replacement with a red patch in the side-wall was rolled out. Woody Strode disappeared for a minute and returned with a small version of a sledge hammer. He started wailing away at the rim of my bad tire's wheel. If I thought he looked like Woody Strode before...now as his skin glistened in the sunlight, I was convinced.
McGuire motioned me into his office. He was using an old-fashion adding machine as he mumbled items and prices. I was hoping to get out for fifty but as he kept including more things, I was afraid a hundred was more likely. He sighed, "Thomas-Henry (the Woody Strode look-alike) took ten minutes to bang-out your rim." Then in a lower voice, he said isolated words like; city tax, state tax, tire disposal, new valve and labor. Without speaking, he pulled the old calculator's lever one more time and started to hand write the receipt. He then garbled, "That'll be___dollars and eighty-three cents." I said, "What?" In an appeasing way McGuire said, "You're right, this is no time to quibble over pennies...let's just round it off to an even twenty-six dollars."
After the pleasant shock wore-off, I paid and found Thomas-Henry outside to tip him. As we got back in our car, McGuire asked me to wait and said, "If y'all can do me one favor." I was thinking; here we go as he added, "I'd appreciate it, if you come back this way..." I was guessing that he was going to ask us to bring back the tire so he could re-sell it. Instead he said, "I'd appreciate it if when you drove by...even if I'm not opened or if you don't see me, I'd consider it an honor if you honked...that way I'll know a friend went by.
On our way back to Ocean City Maryland, McGuire's junkyard was closed. I stopped and left his tire next to the office door. While I paused to get back onto highway-13, I even honked.
At Christmas, I found his address on the bill of sale. I wrote him a note in a holiday card. In addition to re-thanking him for his hospitality...I compliented him and his staff for being a refreshing change from the "dog-eat-dog" environment that I'm used to.
A week later, I got a card from him with a calendar advertising his place plus an invitation to his 4th of July pig roast...see I was right about him luring me to a barbecue...but I was wrong about him and the other Mark McGwire. In a classic example of role-reversal...the junkyard Mark McGuire became the eternal hero and the homerun king, disgraced by performance enhancing drugs has now been reduced to being a punchline.
So always get your facts straight before you say or do anything stupid...Temperanceville was mild and it was good...and be careful which Ocean City you go to and most importantly...please remember when wagering, there's more than one Michigan.