Originally posted on http://www.funnypearls.com – funny writing by funny women.
I was out of my league. This wasn’t the Bingo of Mrs. Pappas’ fifth-grade class at Windermere Elementary. Forget playing rows across, down and diagonal, now there were new formats: postage stamp, diamond, all I’s and G’s, six block and X-form. It was a revised Bingo language and I wasn’t fluent.
The caller began. For the next hour, as each number appeared on the screen which he read in his Latin drawl, my heart pounded, my mouth went dry and my palms turned clammy. I scanned my bonus pack of Bingo cards, my stamper poised, ready to stake its claim. My mom calmly whistled to herself and marked her sheets.
I needed my distance glasses to see the screen, but then faced blurry numbers when my eyes returned to the cards. My obsessive compulsive disorder required that I check the screen with my driving glasses, slide them down my nose, peer through my reading glasses held in my left hand to read the game columns, then mark any numbers I was lucky enough to identify, with my turquoise-ink stamper. This wasted valuable time. Why hadn’t I demanded a bifocal prescription from the eye doctor? She hadn’t taken Bingo into account.
How was this relaxing?
As if my personal spiral of anxiety wasn’t enough, here came the “standers,” players one number away from Bingo who were encouraged to stand and show how close they were to the prize. The caller asked, “How do we feel about standers?” I joined my fellow bingo-hopefuls in boo-ing the over-achievers. How could there be so many standers while I struggled finding the numbers on the page?
Mom coached me over lunch. Even if someone called “Bingo,” I had to double-check my numbers with the screen in case I’d miss something. I should not cap my stamper between numbers and I needed to stop humming the Bingo song.
I entered the afternoon round refreshed and with a plan. I wet my stamper in advance. I sat us in the first row. Here I didn’t need my distance glasses and I could read the caller’s lips instead of relying only on his voice. I also wouldn’t be distracted by the standers.
Two games were won by children. They’re allowed to play but may not purchase bingo sheets nor collect the money. I considered filing a complaint about their unfair advantage of sharper eyes, quicker reflexes and superior hand-eye coordination.
We never had Bingo public humiliation in the fifth grade. One man mistakenly called “Bingo”. As punishment for disrupting the flow of play, he had to perform the “chicken dance” before the crowd while we clapped and flapped our “wings”.
The final round was “Snowball Jackpot Bingo” with a cash prize of $1,385. My adrenaline level was so high, I only saw turquoise ink and forgot to mark several numbers. I was my worst enemy! Wasn’t panic, heart pounding, shaking hands and an adrenaline rush what I paid for?
My next cruise I’m bringing secret weapons: bifocals and my children.