The good news is Ocean City is the eighth most popular summer destination in the United States this year, according to TripAdvisor.
The bad news, from the same source, is Ocean City is the eighth most popular summer destination in the United States this year.
I say that because the good or bad of being eighth is a matter of context and perspective.
Discovering the eighth-best cure for polio, for instance, is not likely to result in a writeup in the Scientific American or even qualify the discoverer for lovely parting gifts from the Nobel Prize committee.
On the other hand, if someone were to win the eighth biggest Powerball jackpot ever, that someone is not going to say, “What? You expect me to settle for eighth?”
So, in one respect, this is excellent news. Ocean City is in the top 10 as Orlando, which has Mickey Mouse, and Las Vegas, which offers package deals on the Seven Deadly Sins.
Ocean City, meanwhile, has no famous rodents, and, sin-wise, it offers only the trial edition of the Seven So-So Sins.
Besides most of our visitors probably think Gluttony, which ranks fifth on the list of the deadly seven, just ahead of Wrath and Sloth, is a small town in England.
The other locations ahead of us are Myrtle Beach, where it’s much warmer sooner, followed by tropical Maui, home of the Maui Wowie strain of an illegal substance.
New York City, at number five, has more than one performing arts center, six is winterless Key West, and at seven is New Orleans, which has 26 — yes, 26! — Popeye’s restaurants.
And yet, we are in the eighth spot, even though we aren’t tropical, offer only a few moderate sins, have a performing arts auditorium somewhat smaller than the Lincoln Center, and just one Popeye’s, although this Popeye’s does have me to propel its sales volume ever skyward.
But again, being able to boast about being the eighth best anything is all in how you look at it.
Suppose, for instance, you were the reason the parents in the 1970s TV sitcom declared, “Eight Is Enough.” Unless you’re in the fourth grade and are late for school because you’re driving the bus, it isn’t likely that you’ll walk into class and proclaim, “Guess what? I’m my parents’ eighth favorite. Yay!
Conversely, we topped San Diego and Virginia Beach and that says quite a bit, considering San Diego is right next door to crazy Tijuana, while we’re right next door to Crazy Selbyville.
Meanwhile, Virginia Beach is just 133 miles down the coast, give or take the length of an aircraft carrier or two, and we beat them fair and square.
As was said by the eighth husband of the glamorous but meagerly talented actress Zsa Zsa Gabor (see 1984’s “Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tilly” for reference) on the occasion of her ninth wedding, “I feel like a winning college basket team in March: I’ve made it to the Elite Eight and am looking better all the time.”