December 15, 2014
I was just kinda sitting here wondering what to write, almost giving up, staring at my screen, when I mosied on over to Facebook and saw that one of my friends was playing Bingo! And just like that -- you could probably even say "Bingo!" -- I knew that I would run off at the mouth write about that wonderful game.
As a kid at Catlick school, I was subjected to played Bingo twice a year, courtesy of the Ladies' Sodality Society. The good ladies held Bingo Day to raise money for the poor. I vaguely remember having to pay to play; any kids who didn't had to work quietly on school stuff, poor things. Right after lunch, the ladies came around and distributed the cards and markers -- maybe the price was based on the number of cards? -- and then the fun began.
The caller announced the numbers over the PA system, which was set for two-way communication so that the caller could hear Bingo being called. If you won, you handed your card to S'ter*, who called off the numbers to be verified. When handing over your card, you had to be very careful not to drop the card and the markers, for then all was lost. During the games, other Sodality ladies would come around selling chips and candy bars. What a treat!! If you won a game, you got to go to the All-Purpose Room and pick out a prize. Bingo Days were the best!
Fast forward to college. One night my best friends, Brian and Sue, suggested that we go play Bingo at the local Knights of Columbus Hall. So we smoked up a couple doobies and headed up the road. We bought three cards apiece; chump change in the world of high-stakes Bingo. We found some space at a table and sat ourselves down, right in the middle of the Bingo People.
Ah, the Bingo People! These folks -- mostly older, mostly women -- played at least a dozen cards at once. They surrounded themselves with their lucky charms: troll dolls, figurines, statues of saints, you name it.
Anyway, the key to this story is the fact that Brian was almost completely blind. He had lost one eye to cancer when he was a child. Radiation treatment on the other left with 5% vision in the other. So he memorized his cards, so he wouldn't have to bend way over to try to see them. We told him the numbers; he repeated them. We corrected him; he repeated them. It only took a little while, but he got them down pat and we played and played and played.
But while he was committing the numbers to memory, the Bingo Lady sitting a couple seats down from him kept giving him the side-eye. Sue side-eyed her back, but she kept looking over, half curious, half disapproving. Finally, Sue whispered, "Why the hell is that lady staring at us?"
I knew. "Well, as far as she can tell, Brian can see the cards and she's wondering why he keeps reading them out!"
Well, that was that. We couldn't stop giggling for the rest of the evening, especially when Brian won!
*S'ter = Sister, the nun's honorific.