B-I-N-G-O spells redneck family fun
It’s an exciting Friday afternoon at the bingo hall on 28 Road, where I’m just two numbers away from the jackpot. Or maybe I’ve already won. Who knows? It’s so hard to concentrate when your 3-year-old is asking to use the potty and your 9-month-old is trying to eat the dauber.
You may question my judgment for organizing a family outing at a bingo parlor, but I say that traditional activities like going to a park offer nothing more than the same old fresh air, laughter and exercise, whereas bingo allows us a chance to expose our kids to new experiences, like second-hand smoke and gambling degeneracy.
We’re here because proceeds from today go to the Roice-Hurst Humane Society. That’s my rationale anyway. Truth is, I’m a sucker for games of chance. I’d still want to play if the proceeds benefited the Free O.J. Simpson Defense Fund.
“You’ll want to buy extra purple cards. They’re for the progressive,” the nice cashier informs me.
“How much is the progressive?” I assume it to be in the $300 to $400 range. Maybe $600 tops.
“It’s ten thousand dollars.”
Clearly I haven’t played bingo in awhile. A $10,000 jackpot? I figured this was sort of like the bingo I played as kid each November in Granby, where the “big winner” received (drum roll please) ... a frozen turkey. My brother won this one year. Believe it or not, this made him somewhat of a celebrity in town.
We sit in the back. Our neighbors look like they live here. They have snacks, personal screens and well-worn daubers. Many possess a very disturbing good luck charm. Somewhere in the pantheon of lucky symbols, the horseshoe and rabbit’s foot made way for the patron saint of bingo players — the troll.
But the large guy next to me doesn’t have one. He’s rough-looking, with dirty clothes and tattoos — not the kind of man to tote around tiny, pink-haired dolls.
He also doesn’t appear to be a frequent visitor to the dentist.
And he is the nicest guy you will ever meet.
Seeing us dauber-less, he offers us an extra. He coos to our baby. And to us obvious noobs, helpful advice is dispensed. It’s a nice gesture, but unnecessary. I mean sure, I’m new to bingo and all, but I do have a degree from CU. I think I can grasp the concept of the “Big X.”
After a few fruitless games there’s an intermission. Apparently all this strenuous dauber dabbing requires a rest period. After a major purchase at the snack bar (ice water: 50 cents), I look over to see my wife. She’s breastfeeding our son. At a bingo hall. The only thing that could make this scene more redneck is if she had a cigarette dangling from her lips and a Dale Earnhardt tattoo.
The games resume and a few more losers later it’s showtime: the $10,000 progressive.
We don’t win of course. At least I don’t think we did. We sort of lost track there for awhile. One of the younger members of our family thought it’d be fun to take the dauber and mark ALL the spots, whether or not the numbers were actually called.
The eventual winner shouts “Bingo!” and this is followed by an odd sound: applause. People go pat him on the back, genuinely happy for him.
I’m ticked off. Ten K could go a long way in my house. We could go to Disneyland. Roofers could lay new shingles. We could buy diapers. For a month.
It turns out the winner can barely speak English, so I’m hoping there’s some kind of citizenship issue that disqualifies him and gets the game going again. Unfortunately he’s legit, yet this congratulatory spirit enveloping the hall is inspirational. The bingo players are good people.
Still, as I leave, my jealousy is unwavering. Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money.
Do you know how many frozen turkeys that could buy?