My sister Diane and I play Bingo twice a year when we help support the West End Rotary Club and the Eldred Township Historical Society at their Longaberger Basket Bingos.
Recently, we heard the call of the Bingo. We talked about going for a fun night of playing regular Bingo but with busy schedules, it was hard to find a night that worked for us both.
Last Thursday we found ourselves free and armed with Bingo chips, crayons, Bingo dabbers, Bingo magnetic wands and lucky charms for a big Bingo night out.
Little did we know we would need more than lucky charms to survive the night.
Diane got there first. Silly me, I didn't talk to her before I went to pay for my boards. Big mistake.
"Would you like the small package or the large package?" a gentleman asked.
Large sounded like "More chances to win" so, I paid for my large package, which included a very big tablet and a smaller tablet. Evidently, they did away with Bingo boards. He handed me a sheet of paper telling me that it explained the games.
Really? I need a sheet to tell me how to play Bingo? So it's not B-15 and O-72 anymore? I chuckled to myself.
Oh Stupid One.
Someone decided that Bingo and Four Corners were just too tame. So Postage Stamp and Floating Postage Stamp, Crazy T, Crazy L have been added to "spice" up the game. Reading words like Washline, Derbies and Pots of Gold sounded like Leprehchaun jockeys doing laundry.
As I sat down across from Diane, I knew something was wrong. I actually saw fear in her eyes.
"What?" I asked
"I think we're in trouble," she said. "I think we should have taken the small package. Have you seen how many games are on one of these sheets?"
I started counting. 1, 2, 5, 10, 15...
"There's 18 games!" I said incredulously. The most we ever played were eight!
Jane Keller, sitting one table over, heard the distress in our voices and offered her encouragement of "You'll be fine."
As the announcer dropped the Bingo balls, we armed ourselves with our dabbers, ready for the unknown.
First number...okay. Second number...allllll right. Third number...THIRD NUMBER? Are you nuts? We were still looking for all the second numbers. Fourth number...still on the second number. Fifth number...just starting on the third. We couldn't dab fast enough! And then we heard a strange noise. It sounded like paper tearing around the room. Sixth number...while we're still on the third number, someone yells Bingo!
Apparently, just like in every other aspect of life, someone must have thought bigger and faster meant better in the world of Bingo.
So where did that leave schmucks like us?
In the dust, my friends, in the Bingo dust.
Diane and I sat in stunned silence until we realized the second game had begun. I think I giggled. We quickly tore off our second sheets and were frantically trying to cover the first number when we realized the announcer was already on the third number.
I definitely know how you get the giggles when overwhelmed and a situation just seems too funny?
"I can't do this!" Diane moaned but had to giggle too.
"Sure we can. It's Bingo for God's sake!" I giggled. But our giggles turned to dismay when we heard that tearing paper sound again.
Another Bingo number and someone called "Bingo!"
"How do they know that?" Diane wondered about the paper tearing.
Linda Kile, a member of the Polk Township Vol. Fire Co. and Bingo volunteer and friend, tried to help us.
"Watch the numbers on the television screen. It will give you a head start," she said.
"I can't," Diane said, "There's not enough time to take my eyes off my sheet!"
We finally figured out that when someone saw their winning number on the screen they raised their hand which signaled to everyone that Bingo was coming and they knew enough to tear off their next sheet to get ready for the next game. We began to really hate that sound.
A few more games and Diane said, "I can't wait for intermission. I really need a break."
"I know. My arm and shoulder hurts so bad from zipping across these games so fast," I said.
Intermission arrived. For the first time in about an hour and a half, we both began to breathe again.
"I need a Coke," I said, totally stressed out.
We talked strategy for the second half and psyched ourselves out for another round of Speed Bingo.
I won one game with two others. Diane won one game with one other person. We're pretty sure we may have won other games but they're forever lost in Bingo Limbo.
When the last number was finally called, Diane looked at me and said defeatedly, "Well, I can't believe it, but they took the fun out of Bingo."
I nodded tiredly. I was so exhausted I didn't know if I could even walk out to the car, feeling like I had just run a marathon. Well, it kind of was. A Bingo marathon.
The next morning, I received a call.
"So, Kunkletown has Bingo on Monday nights. Do you want to see if they do it the old fashioned way?" she said.
"Are you nuts?...Okay."
'Cause when you hear the call of the Bingo, you must answer.