April 24, 2009

Me versus Bingo: a Ten-Rounder

Or, "I'll Get By With a Little Help from my Blue Jackets"

Or, "How I Survived the Crushing Boredom of Bingo and Lived to Tell the Tale"

It was impossible, or as the French say, impossible! (That works better audibly.)

The clock said 7:15pm, but that couldn't be right. I'd been in the ring for less than an hour but it felt like four. Bingo already had me on the ropes. I was out of shape, under-trained but suitably wary because I knew Bingo had the reputation of being the greatest prize fighter of my generation. My goal was to go all ten rounds. To go for a decision.

The game-changer, or rather match-changer, came when the correct channel for game 4 of the NHL playoffs starring the over-matched Blue Jackets was found. Even better, there were two places to watch: out in "the field" where a new television (as if in a special act of creation) had been installed and, of course, in the small office where the tickets and money were doled and counted. Suddenly I was enthralled not by my own slugfest with bingo boredom but with the slugfest on the ice. The Blue Jackets, i.e. Rocky Balboa, were playing Apollo Creed and the Detroit Red Wings. I could empathize.

[Queue music: Gonna Fly Now!]

The Blue Jackets, like your bingo instant winner seller and like Balboa in Rocky I, were quickly brought low. By the time the correct channel on the satellite dish was found, the Jackets were down 3-1, which was almost quicker than I could yell, "Popeye!", the name of the new lottery game.

But new life came to the Columbus team. Two goals were scored and the game was tied. Since bingo was slow tonight and we were overstaffed, it allowed for plenty of hockey and the action was not foreordained. We were actually getting to see a game.

The Red Wings, like Apollo Creed, were outraged by the Jackets response. "We just made them mad," someone said. The two unanswered goals were answered and the score was 5-3 Red Wings.

My symbiotic relationship with the game was such that I was ready to quit, to hang up my figurative bingo gloves. "We're overstaffed today," I thought, "I could go home." But I didn't want to, not on this, my last Bingo until August at the earliest and perhaps the last one period. This was a case of serious bingo burnout but I wanted to go all ten rounds with Bingo one last time in part because I'd bailed last month at 8:15 and felt unsatisfied, as if it had knocked me out. A TKO, for sure, as I'd not been given much advance notice to sub that time, but a knockout is a knockout.

Thoughts of going home vanished when the Blue Jackets quickly scored a 4th goal. They weren't going down without a fight. A loss would finish their season; they had nothing to lose, just as I had nothing to lose in going all ten rounds and playing it out, leaving nothing on the ice - I mean bingo - rink.

Then, as miraculous as it sounds, a 5th Blue Jacket goal. Tie game. And so it went for awhile as both teams slugged it out. The minutes of the third period ticked down. Five minutes. Four. Three. Two--- uh oh. A ticky-tacky penalty. Someone didn't get off the ice quickly enough. Too many skaters on the ice. A penalty play.

With 44 seconds left in the game, in a heartbreaker not dissimilar in kind and effect than the Frozen Four final, the Detroit Red Wings scored.

But the men in blue had gone the distance, and their loss at least partially rested on the judgment of an umpire who wouldn't let the teams play in the waning minutes. I celebrated with pizza and pop saying, "Ain't gonna be no rematch."

* * *

At the end of each Morning Joe, the premiere political talk show in America though hosted on the Darth Vader of networks (MSNBC), the participants stand up and say what they've learned.

So I'll talk about what I learned from bingo last night. Co-worker C. (name withheld for reasons that will soon become clear) is one of five children who drove their good Catholic mother certifiable. Which, incidentally, is the role of children.

C. made clear that her mother is the gentlest, kindest soul in Christendom who prays constantly, etc, but who, back in the day, would call her offspring "f-cking a--hole bastards". To this day C. and her other siblings refer to each other as FABs. Amusingly, her father would responsd with "don't call them bastards!". The poor guy apparently wanted credit for fathering f--king a--holes.

I've learned that my mom, who feels terrible that she called her children idiots, ought be less self-critical.

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