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Berger’s Burg: Stolen license plates spell headaches for Giants fan

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Everything in football has become so specialized. Now when the Giants travel, they take two priests with them — the defensive chaplain and the offensive chaplain.

Although it happened seven months ago, I still haven’t recovered from the Giants’ shocking playoff loss. Still, I remain a loyal Giants fan. To wit: As a Giants-o-phile, I own everything attached to a “Giants” logo including pennants, calendars and a life-size picture of Lawrence Taylor, the great Giants’ linebacker, which hangs over my nuptial bed.

And on my person are hats, sweatshirts, stadium jackets and “gotkes,” or undershorts. But of all my treasures, the crown jewels are my very own “Giants” automobile license plates.

These license plates have “Giants” lettering embossed on them, adjacent to a miniature Giants helmet. I have had these customized vanity plates since the early 1970s, when the New York State Vanity Plates program first began.

You may have noticed other Giants plates on the roads, but all have a number following “Giants.” My plates are the only ones in the world with just plain “Giants.” Wherever I would ride — in New York, Florida, Colorado or California — people would wave and cars would honk in acknowledgement. But as we all know, sheer joy cannot last forever.

The downside began in 1988. Gloria and I attended a Giants-Cowboys game at Giants Stadium and were returning to our car following the game when we discovered our license plates missing. Did you hear me? Gone! Someone had swiped my cherished license plates.

We reported it to a stadium police officer who matter of factly recorded the information. We had to drive back to Queens without license plates and, would you believe, no one stopped us — not on the parkways, the bridges or in Queens?

The following day, we raced to the Department of Motor Vehicles office to report the theft. They informed us that we would have to wait until the stolen license plates’ registration expired before we could get a replacement. The wait was long and when the expiration date arrived, we were once again proud owners of our Giants plates.

People waved and cars began honking at us again, and we were sitting pretty, that is, until we found a summons in our mailbox. It stated that we had parked illegally in Spring Valley, N.Y., on Yom Kippur Day, and we failed to mail in the fine.

Firstly, I never travel anywhere on Yom Kippur (the holiest day on the Jewish calendar). Secondly, I never park illegally, and thirdly, I hadn’t been to Spring Valley since the day Tiki Barber was born. Was a resident of Spring Valley the “goniff” who stole our plates and used them as his own? We explained the situation to the Spring Valley authorities and the case was dismissed.

A few months later, Gloria and I traveled to hostile Philadelphia for a game. In the event you are unfamiliar with the personality of a typical Eagles’ football fan, let me elucidate. You take three parts Attila the Hun, mix in one part Saddam Hussein and sprinkle in a mix of Leona Helmsley and Martha Stewart and you will then have concocted a prototypical Eagles’ football fan. Their football field is the only one with its own courtroom, and with good reason.

Well, we drove our Giants license plates into this malevolent environment and made sure to park close to the exit for a quick getaway. I won’t tell you what insults were hurled at us because of our Giants license plates (that is a story for another day), but we did win the game. When the game ended, we had to be accompanied by the police as we walked through a jungle of jeering Eagles’ fans to our car. Whoever coined the phrase “I would rather be in Philadelphia” never went there with Giants license plates.

A few months later, we again received a summons from Spring Valley stating that we had passed through an EZ Pass lane without paying, on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Firstly, I never left Queens on the day in question. Secondly, I have an EZ Pass and I would have used it, and thirdly, I haven’t been on the Tappan Zee Bridge since the day Michael Strahan was born. Again, the case was dismissed.

That is not all. Shortly thereafter, Gloria and I decided to vacation in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. We drove to the resort and parked the car for the night. When we returned to it the next day, we found graffiti, the likes of which I had never seen, scrawled all over our car. I guess the Eagles’ fans really don’t like the Giants.

Things went smoothly for a few months until I received a third summons for parking in a fire zone at the Kennedy Mall in Spring Valley. Firstly, on that day I was babysitting for my granddaughter, Keri, in New Jersey. Secondly, I never park in a fire zone, and thirdly, where in the world is the Kennedy Mall? At this point, my dander rose to the boiling point and I swung into action.

I visited the DMV office in College Point to report my dilemma. Next, I telephoned the Spring Valley police to report my dilemma, and then I explained to the courts my dilemma. The case was again dismissed.

But now my son, Jon, pleaded with me to get rid of the plates. I didn’t listen. My brother Milt from California begged me to get rid of the plates. I was tone deaf. But when my 4-year-old granddaughter, Keri, said, “Grandpa, get rid of those plates. I don’t want you to go to jail,” I began to listen.

I agreed to turn in my beloved plates the following day. However, fate stepped in. To add insult to injury, while I was in the Whitestone Library reading “The Psyche of an Auto Thief,” my plates were stolen again.

Like the poor Mexican fisherman in John Steinbeck’s novel, “The Pearl,” who had dragged up the largest pearl ever recorded but threw it back into the sea because of the grief it caused him trying to sell it, I almost did the same.

So I decided to keep my Giants license plates. I would need them to celebrate the Giants’ victory in the next Super Bowl in January. Hmm! I will hang a sign stating that Lawrence Taylor will be guarding my car. I defy any thief to try and steal my plates.

Reach columnist Alex Berger by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 140.

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