There I sat, dabber clinched in a my right hand, one eye on my meagre collection of three cards, one eye on the game program and my ears attuned to the caller. A dab of sweat on my forehead testified that this was more than a contest, more than a diversion, this was BINGO.
I can't say that I play bingo a lot. I can count the number of times I have done this on one hand. Usually I only go because my mother wants someone to go with. Normally I decline, but occasionally I give in to the temptation and go.
This most recent occasion was partly to celebrate my vacation, and partly because they refused to hear my refusals. I think they asked me more than ten times. I said NO nine of those times, and they claimed they understood. Then they asked me again. I can't blame them, I made the decision to go. They tried to tempt me with visions of winning back the money I spent on my vacation--but I never thought that realistic, BINGO is a game of luck after all.
Taking a look at my family, you would think that BINGO is hereditary. My grandmother, as legend has it, could still play 24 or more cards of BINGO despite being somewhat diminished by Alzheimer's. She couldn't remember who you were, but she could play and win at BINGO. My mother is also a formidable player who seems to be able to play more than 24 cards--she has to watch mine after all.
Once I did venture to playing 12 cards, but I nearly had a nervous fit. I could barely keep up with the dabbing, let alone figure out if I got the "magic square" or "mystery X" or the "postage stamp" (if you fail to recognize any of these, then you probably aren't a BINGO player) I vowed that night to never play BINGO again. However, who can say no to their mother.
My most recent BINGO outing pitted me against a small group of two handed BINGO dabbing enthusiasts. I hazard to guess that, as a man in his forties, I was probably the second or third youngest person in the room, without counting the bingo caller, who I was too busy to get a look at. Thankfully for me, smoking is no longer allowed at BINGO. I imagine that there was a time when the haze of smoke was so thick that you really had to be on top of your cards.
In the old days BINGO players had to lug around a bag of chips that rattled and clinked like poker chips, as well as lucky troll dolls. I didn't see to many of those, but again, I was too busy concentrating to look very hard.
In the end, I didn't win anything, and three cards weren't too many. I probably could have handled six. but certainly no more. I would vow to never go again, but I am sure my mother will ask me the next time she visits, and reluctantly I will go with her.