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  • Gerry

I Faced My Worst Fears

... and it happened at Bingo Night. Now I know what you're thinking, "What's the worst thing that could happen at Bingo Night? Isn't it slow paced and full of old people?" Well, let me tell you, it will go down as one of the most traumatic, and yet exciting, experiences of my life. Bear with me on this one.

To tell you the whole story, I believe we need to back up to much earlier in the day. I'll be traveling for a bit and because of our schedules, it was the last day I could actually spent time with my boyfriend before I left. We originally wanted to do Trivia Night at a local bar, but unfortunately that was happening on Tuesdays, not Thursdays. I was telling my mom and her boyfriend about this when I had a brilliant realization.

"What night do you guys have Bingo Night? Thursdays right? It's tonight?" After confirming that Bingo Night is in fact on Thursdays, my mom and her boyfriend jump fully on board with this plan. They're practically convincing me that me and my boyfriend need to do Bingo Night. My mom's boyfriend tries to convince my mom to go with us because he can't go. He tells her to call his daughter, but she can't go either. He tells her that he'll drive my mom to Bingo Night and then drive her back to his house and then take her home that night. But alas, my mom is dead set on not going to Bingo Night alone with us.

Now I'll give you a general idea of how the rest of this conversation played out:

Me: How far away in the location?

Him: From my house?

Me: No, from our house?

Him: About 11 miles.

Me: …and in minutes?

Him: Oh, depends on traffic. Could be 15, could be 45.

Me: And when does it start?

Mom: 6:30pm.

Him: You have to make sure you arrive early if you want the food.

(We continue to have a discussion about what other food options are available in case we don't want Bingo Night Food.)

Me: And we can show up whenever, right? Like we don't need to be there exactly at 6:30? (An important question for me because I am late to everything.)

Him and Mom: Yeah, of course.

Him: You have to go, you'll love it! Half the one is people-watching. All these characters have been playing bingo for decades.

I texted my boyfriend that our options were Bingo Night or Trampoline Gym. However, by the time he responded that we could either, I already had done my make-up and told him I didn't want to risk sweating it off at the Trampoline Gym. I mean, I don't know how ham I'm going at the Trampoline Gym. Clearly I need to show those children who's the boss of backflips. (It's not me, I've never done a backflip on a trampoline in my life. But my hubris tells me I could.)

Anyway, to recap our commute quickly, there are only two important things to note:

  1. It would have never taken us only 15 minutes to get to this location. In fact, to paraphrase my boyfriend's words, maybe we could have... if we went 60mph right from my driveway.

  2. My boyfriend's car seems to have a consistent issue with directions. Every time I have an address for us, it never fits properly in the GPS. Last time, it was not giving me the proper street name so I just chose one that seemed similar to the one I needed... That ended up in us looking for a restaurant in a housing development roughly 15 minutes away. This time we ended up 8 minutes away from our destination... That's character development for the GPS, right?

Anyway, we get to the location at 6:40, but the sign says the Bingo portion of the night doesn't start for another hour. Our options were to eat at this place or to choose another actual restaurant in the area. We discussed our options and decided on an American-style restaurant not too far from us at that moment. Only three exciting things happened from the time dinner started to our arrival at the Bingo Night location, so I'll recap them quickly for you:

  1. He saw a baby doll inside a bag next to us and thought it was a live baby. But of course he couldn't tell me this information because it was the table right next to us. instead, he tries to take a picture inconspicuously to relay this information to me. However, he decides that he still looks too suspicious so he moves his water cup and announces that he's just taking a picture of his water!

  2. In typical cute couple fashion, my boyfriend takes a hidden video of me during dinner. (Something that has kind of become a tradition at this point when we go out to dinner. I think it's pretty cute to be honest.) However, this time he did it so well that I thought he was genuinely just looking at his phone. Me, in typical I'm just going to entertain myself because I grew up as the only child in the house and I've been doing it my whole life, what's one more time? , started looking around the room. I spotted a square-shaped staircase that had a half-wall facing us and turned to him and casually went, "What if I just threw myself off that right now?"...Might have ruined that video, or made it a total masterpiece, honestly up to you to decide.

  3. The location where Bingo was being held seemed to basically not have a parking lot. I called my mom confused about where to park and she gave me this exact answer, "Behind the location is a lot and behind that is another lot." Were we supposed to park in the first lot? In the second lot? The first lot had a Do Not Enter sign. Ultimately we parked on the street.

Now, I have never stepped foot in this building prior to this moment in my entire life and neither had my boyfriend. So, we walked up to the first door, he looked inside, confirmed that there was in fact Bingo, and we walked inside. Our exact arrival time was 7:50, only 10 minutes late... But it's Bingo, who cares if you're late to Bingo? Another round starts every 10 minutes anyway. Well, we walk into a room where people are, in fact, playing Bingo... but that's all we see. Everyone pauses for a second and looks at us. The caller calls the number he just pulled while looking at us. The players all dab the number, then continue to look at us. There's no one selling tickets, just people 50+ playing Bingo and the Bingo number caller. That's all we see. We stand there for a few minutes, being eyed-up by these people as they continue their game of Bingo while we stand there clearly out of place. My boyfriend tells me they're all starring at us, which yes, I also had noticed. I try taking a step forward to see the entire room, but there is literally no one selling Bingo Boards. We stand there frozen, my anxiety rising. Together we agree that we'll only stay for a few rounds and then we'll leave since we are definitely out of place right now.

My boyfriend, bless his soul because I could never, asks the woman next to us where she got tickets. She points down the corridor to the left of the caller (the further corridor, of course) and says that she got here not too long ago and it was fine. My boyfriend, graciously, let's me go first as we need to walk in front of all these older people who are definitely so pissed off on the inside that these two 20-something hooligans just interrupted their weekly Bingo night.

Anyway, this man from the front helps us to try and find the people selling the tickets, but of course they aren't where they used to be, so now he needs to lead us through the kitchen to the first corridor. There we find a door to the office. He knocks on the door twice and then enters the room. He announces to the room filled with about six people, and just as many dogs, that we came late and need Bingo tickets. Among the people in there, only two women decide to help us. One of them, however, was thrown into an absolute frenzy over the fact that we were late for Bingo Night. She started practically yelling at us, scolding about the fact that the game had already started and to hurry to buy our tickets. She must have repeated frantically "the game already started" about ten times. I wish I was exaggerating.

Now, I think it's important to break here for a moment and put this out on the record. I've played Bingo before, a new game starts every like ten minutes? I did not at all understand why this woman was so upset over the fact that the game started. It would just restart in like five minutes, wouldn't it? It's not like there's a penalty for not playing the first round or two of Bingo.

After saying that me and my boyfriend were only taking one flip-book of Bingo cards each (which, by the way was split into eight sheets of different colored paper with each sheet containing twelve bingo cards each), the woman held up a small red solo card and asked how many we wanted. Again, are these not all the same boards? I do not understand what the difference is between all of these cards. I even stated that this was our first time when we walked in. I replied, "One for both of us?" as I looked to my equally-as-confused boyfriend for reassurance that it was the right answer. "Are you sure? This is where you really make your money," this woman replies. Really make my money? Ma'am this is Bingo Night? How much money could one possibly make? We took one card each. Luckily my mom reminded me just before we got off the phone that we needed to buy daubers. I asked the room where to buy them and they told me that we buy them at the concession stand. Great, another pitstop.

We walk to the concession stand and the woman asks what colors we want. At this point, I am so anxious and embarrassed that I couldn't help but mentally think, Are we for real? Does it REALLY matter? My boyfriend got green and I got purple. He asked me where I wanted to sit, and I chose as far back as we could possibly go. I wanted to avoid as many eyes for the rest of the night as I possibly could. I was thoroughly embarrassed. We wait until the next round of Bingo to start while we organize our items.

As the game ends and the next one begins, my boyfriend and I get ourselves read to play. Surely the colors on our Bingo cards don't mean anything, right? I have never played a Bingo game where it mattered what colored card I had. However, I notice that ours are green, but the woman in front of us has orange. I turn to my boyfriend and tell him, but he assures me we can probably just use the green. I look around behind us and whisper to him that I think something is wrong because everyone has orange cards.

"Okay, for our next game we're playing Round Robin, Inner Circle." We're playing what?! Now, again, I've played Bingo before. I know the regular Bingo line, four corners, and X. What does Round Robin Inner Circle mean?! At this point I am practically spiraling with confusion. I turn to the man behind us who has about sixty bingo cards in front of him and politely ask him if the colors of the boards mean anything. He tells me I should have an orange board and I assure him that we don't. I tell him we have a white board (because in my mind maybe the ink in the printer was running out and we were the only ones that were printed in white boards instead of orange.) "You don't have an orange board??," this man announces. Overhearing this, the woman next to him yells out, "They don't have an orange board!" In an almost domino-style effect suddenly our half of the 50+ year old's in this room are practically rioting over the fact that we didn't receive an orange board and how they need to stop the game because we showed up with enough time to have the right to play the orange board. "Oh my god, it got worse," both me and my boyfriend say to each other. One woman graciously goes up to the front to announce to the caller that we don't have our boards, like they couldn't have noticed at that point, and then goes to the back to get them for us. A woman from the front of the room, seemingly to protect us, says, "They probably thought it started at 8pm. It starts at 7:40." Without even skipping a beat, my boyfriend agrees that we thought it started at 8pm. It is still unclear whether my face gave away that fact that we, in fact, did not think it started at 8pm. I guess in a way to entertain the crowd while they've all been disrupted by us, again, the man behind us goes, "They're on date night! Come on, you remember date night!" With perfect timing, the woman who went to get our boards arrives at us and responds how she remembers date night, but maybe my boyfriend could remind her husband who seems to have forgotten the concept. I turn again to the Bingo-Guru behind us and ask him to describe what the pattern we're looking for, which incase you're wondering is when you're only trying to get the numbers around the Free Space. I then ask him if we're playing all of the boards on the sheet of paper at once (because remember, there are twelve on each sheet of paper). He responds positively and reassures me that if he can handle five sheets (sixty bingo cards), that I can handle my one sheet (twelve bingo cards).

Almost seemingly as quickly as the uproar started, it died back down and they all continued with the Orange-sheet game of Bingo. I shove my face into my boyfriend's arm practically dying of embarrassment from this entire situation. We mutually agree that we cannot leave early at this point, not after all of this. We salvage our pride and try to play the game without another issue... and we were pretty successful in all honesty. There was a brief moment where we thought one of us was going to get a Bingo and we had a mini panic-attack trying to figure out who would announce it because both of us were too shy to speak at that point. Our resolution was more-so just agreeing that no one would announce it and we would just lose. Luckily it didn't come to that because my prayers were answered and someone else won that round.

During the next round, the green round, our anxiety had calmed down. Our Bingo Train was trucking along quite smoothly. We still were too afraid to say Bingo, but the Bingo-Guru behind us had told us he would shout it for us should we need him to. I told my boyfriend that I felt safe now with this group of oldsters. Within minutes, I felt weirdly protected by them. That was, until my boyfriend sneezed. In a cult-like fashion every single person in that room said "Bless you" in perfect unison with absolutely no expression in their voice. Just completely monotone. We made eye-contact again and I was convinced we were mutually experiencing a fever-dream.

Before the intermission, we played a 50/50 card. These apparently on the cards that the woman was trying to sell me on, telling me that these are the cards where you make your big bucks. She wasn't wrong. It happens twice throughout the night and the first time around, the jackpot for Bingo was about $250. Our design to create was a champagne glass. I'll insert a picture for you of what that looks like, because I certainly didn't know. Luckily, they outline it for you on the board to make it easy to understand. About half way through, this woman goes, "Bingo gone wild!" As I'm sure you can imagine, my boyfriend and I had no clue what this was about. The man goes over to her card, reads of the numbers, and the caller says, "That's a good Bingo Gone Wild." I assume the game is over, so I put my card to the side. Turns out it was not because the caller continues to say numbers. As I write this post, I still have no clue what that meant.

For the rest of the night our experience was relatively normal. That is, if your normal includes this audio from seemingly the great beyond saying "Bingo!" and then quacking while no one else seems to acknowledge this nor does it count as an actual Bingo, going to the bathroom during intermission and having three women complain about the bathrooms which seemed pretty nice to me, a woman reiterating to me an hour after arrival how next time we need to make sure we arrive by 7:40, the man walking around for the second 50/50 and asking if we want tickets but when I say yes he walks away, the Bingo-Guru behind us having extremely bizarre conversations, and the oldsters stringing together profanities when Bingo is finally called by someone which is followed up by all of them needing to share what numbers they had been waiting for for forever. By the time Bingo Night was over, which was 10:30 by the way, my boyfriend and I agreed that we had a bizarre experience that no one would probably believe... and that we're now a Bingo couple. You'll find us back at there ready for our second round of Unnecessarily Competitive Bingo and hopefully with just as many stories (but less anxiety because we'll arrive on time).


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