The pleasure of a friendly game

I believe there must have been nearly seventy people carefully placed in the American Legion Hall on that Saturday night, all there to participate in a night of Bingo. I sat there with my book and a half of disposable Bingo cards in front of me, my heavily trafficked mind zeroing in on the numbers being called, my bright blue Bingo dauber doing its job with a lack in proficiency, since I was the one in control. 

A rapid hush fell over the room just before someone shouted out that word we were not prepared to hear so soon; “Bingo!” The players, myself included, sat frozen in anticipation as one by one each winning card number was announced to the crowd and the winners were crowned.

Though I did not for one moment diminish the importance or the complication of winning and losing, I marveled at the simple pleasure that ensued with each round. I must add here that many, if not most of the games, sought out rather complicated formations. The postage stamp, six pack, eight around the corner, fishing pole, spool of thread, sputnik, and various other shapes were individually required for an authentic Bingo time after time. Straight or vertical lines were rarely the deciding factor in this game of chance. 

Some competitors surrounded their cards with minuscule stuffed characters, shiny coins, keychains, photographs, pieces of jewelry and other tokens, all for good luck. But make no mistake, my friends — the Bingo games of today are not mundane or silly or boring and the players are champions in their own right. I was enthralled. 

I believe I spent just about $40 that night and though I walked away with an empty pocket, my mind was filled with all sorts of Bingo wisdom. My fellow players filed out onto Sweden Street with half smiles and plans to return next Saturday night, armed with ironclad aspirations of winning. 

It may be some time before I once again join my Bingo comrades for an evening of hope, laughter and socialization, but it is an important line item on my “must do again” list. I also need to start putting together a Bingo bag, complete with a lucky token, snacks, ginger ale, money holder, chewing gum, hand cream, lip gloss, and an extra dauber (I think I will get a pink one this time). 

If you happen to be participating in an evening of Bingo and you see a slightly confused and somewhat bewildered lady sitting at a table with a pink or blue dauber hovering over her Bingo cards, please come by and say hello. I could use some coaching and I welcome a new friend; the most lovely prize of all.

Please remember to be kind to ourselves and each other.

Belinda Ouellette lives in Caribou with her Goldendoodle, Barney. You may email her at belindaouellette9@gmail.com.

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