Monday, February 18, 2008


Have you ever been BINGO-ing?

You need to go.

I tell you, there is no better way to spend five dollars and two-and-a-half hours (they just flew by) than with a roomful of old people and their bingo-dabbers. I went last night with a dozen or so friends, and you could tell the regulars were just seething, especially when Dan won the first round. He was the only one of us to win anything, but that detracts nothing from the awesome, soothing/stressful joy of seeking out letter-number combinations and dabbing them.

For me, it was all the fun of competition without any of the bother of trying. For some other people, that's what drove them nuts. You have that same sense of need-to-win but there's nothing you can DO to win. If your card sucks, it sucks, and that's that.

One of the ladies circling the tables was quite adept at dealing with newbies. She'd come over between games and tell us what was going to happen next, what we were expected to do, whether it was a 'special' round (those cards cost an extra 50 cents, but the pots were higher) and how to play. Bingo is hard, people. You're not just getting a line, and then going to see who can get blackout. It'll be, like, any three lines but not counting your free squares, or any blocks of six but they can't overlap, and that's the most stressful part, the taking a second to look around your 9-card square to see if you're even getting close, because you're not sure you'd recognize a 'half-card' when you saw it.

The other most stressful part was the other lady toddling around the tables. She was quite a bit older, and clearly had no experience dealing with non-bingo-savvy guests. She'd come up to my elbow in the middle of the game while I'm frantically searching out all my B-9's and be like 'Do you want a blue card?'

Me: *dab, dab* What's it for?

Her: It's to win a prize.

Me: *dab, dab dab* How do I play?

Her: You have to get it stamped.

Me: *dab* What was that last number? 0-68? do I get it stamped? *dab dab*

Her: By one of the employees.

Me:...Serious? I have no B-4's on any of my cards? Um...I don't follow. The employees stamp it, and then I win a prize? Do I have to get...I-18 or 19? 19? Do I have to get all the employees to stamp it? Is it like a scavenger hunt?

Her: *shocked* No! You get one stamp every time you come.

Me: *dab DAB dab* Oh, it's like a frequent bingo-er card. No thanks, *dab* I don't bingo that often.

Her: Ok. *moves on to Dan beside me* Do you want a blue card?

Dan: What's it for?

Her: It's to win a prize.

So Dan won $30 and the rest of us spent around $7, which is not a bad deal for an evening's entertainment. I can see how the bingo hall draws in so many people, night after night. It's pretty addictive. Luckily, there are pamphlets for the Time Out Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program strategically placed at all the tables. So you can kick yourself out.

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