We settled at a table smack in front of the letter and number callers at Saturday night’s Wellesley Village Church Bingo game, not taking chances that our fading hearing would cause us to miss any crucial calls. I exchanged banter with one of the emcees at the start, hoping to boost my karma.
I arranged multiple Bingo cards in front of me, upping my chances of victory and scoring any number of fabulous plastic prizes. A treasure trove of yo-yos, flashing rings, and candy were no doubt coming home with us.
Organizers of the event, which raised money to send students on a service trip to New Mexico during April vacation, attempted to soften everyone up early by doling out ice cream sundaes. I gulped mine down early, so as not to be distracted.
I couldn’t afford to be off my game. The ladies at the adjacent table were not messing around with the little beans distributed to the amateurs among us to mark their Bingo cards: these ringers brought custom markers. They weren’t about to fall prey to a table being shaken by some sugar high tot and the beans scattering hither and yon.
The first game of “regular” Bingo came and went before I could fill in a single I, N or G. As a student of the game, I smugly knew not to clear off my card after the first winner yelled Bingo!, and watched as others unwittingly disqualified themselves from being eligible for follow-up wins.
I still failed to achieve 5 squares in a row, but not to worry. I was biding my time anyway for the more sophisticated games, like 4 corners and the X formation. That’s where I knew my experience, preparation, and concentration would give me an edge.
But no. The kid sitting next to me quickly won twice, after nimbly dotting his card with beans in just the right configuration.
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While I was happy for him, and even happier when a sibling got to hit the prize table courtesy of Dad’s victory, I was still left fretting. I was on the verge of getting shut out and wanted to turn the clock back on this Daylight Saving Time eve.
The teen emcees tried to lighten the mood by inviting youngsters to the mic to tell jokes and riddles, such as:
Why do you have to be quiet at church?
Because everyone is asleep
Why was the football stadium so hot?
All the fans left
Yes, these and the other zingers might have been hilarious under other circumstances, but this Bingo game was no laughing matter.
The “plus” formation Bingo game that followed proved to be a minus for me, as again my cards failed to produce a winner. At that point, the number callers announced that we were onto the final game, an all-or-nothing Blackout Bingo where you had to cover the entire card.
Number & letter combos were called, excruciatingly, by the teens. Then they were echoed by the spirited elementary school kids. It was as if they were mocking those of us who’d yet had a chance to strut to the sparkling prize table, which started to take on the look of the Wellesley dump’s give-and-take area late on a Saturday afternoon.
Alas, the emcees ended the night in “everyone’s a winner” mode, and called letters and numbers until all of our cards were filled. “G65”, just 3 numbers from the end, patronizingly filled my card.
I barely had the heart to push through the crowd of kids to secure a prize at the end.
But this isn’t over. We still have a chance at winning Red Sox tickets in the raffle. Winners will be announced at a later date, and I’m feeling lucky.