Our story began with Old Lady Smackdown aka Bingo: Part One: Players Get Ready To Rumble and continues with part three below.
The first game up is “2 Card Hardway Bingo.” This means you must get Bingo without using the free space on 2 of the 6 cards on your sheet. This is a nice warm-up assuming you remember all the different ways you can get Bingo. Since this is the “Early Bird Game” you are only playing with one sheet that has six cards on it. Each page is color coded, and the color and game are all listed in the program. The detail that goes into this game is impressive.
The caller says “what’s good for the booster is good for the game, B12.” You immediately think, “what the hell does that mean?” You ask your neighbor and are informed there is a secret booster game that goes on with the first number of every game. This is a small hint of the dark Bingo underworld you are not privy to and are almost afraid to pursue.
Now because you are too busy asking questions, you are two numbers behind. You go through and stamp your numbers and your neighbor leans over and tells you not to stamp the ones that won’t lead you to Bingo because it will confuse you. Well, now you’re confused as to which ones those are. You keep looking at the Bingo board that not only is lighting up the number but the acceptable patterns as well.
Suddenly, you notice something odd. The Bingo board is to your left, but everyone seems to be looking to their right and then stamping. This is when you see the TV. When the next ball is picked, it comes up on the TV. By the time the announcer says the number, the rest of the room has already seen it and marked it down. So now you are a number behind again. So more confusion occurs. Do you yell Bingo when it comes up on the TV or when the caller calls it? You look over to the old woman in the pink sweater who is giving you the evil eye while marking her cards without looking.
You start to feel a change in the room. A Bingo could be called at any moment. How do you know? The muttering. The muttering becomes louder and louder the closer it gets to someone calling out Bingo. Of course, you don’t figure this out right away. You notice the under the breath swearing in all kinds of languages is becoming more auditable and it starts as soon as the number pops up on the screen. You’re still a few numbers away when you hear the word you love to say, but dread to hear. BINGO!
Now the person that called Bingo is in the basement. You realize that there is a whole second layer of people playing. This escaped your attention when you first arrived. You’re not only competing with a gymnasium full of people but a whole basement level as well. In between games, you see people settling back in and doing their little good luck ritual, which apparently doesn’t work as someone else has won.
The next game is “Small Crazy Kite” which means you need to get four boxes in one of the corners and a diagonal line that is supposed to be the string. The “Crazy” refers to it being acceptable in any corner. The free space is usable, so you stamp all of them on your sheets. So, now that you are settling into the routine you start getting into the game. The rest of Early Bird games are – “2 Card Bingo – No Corners” “Letter X” and, “6 Card Regular Bingo – Corners Okay.”
It is amazing how down to the second they get those games. You think for sure it will run over and just at that moment the last Early Bird game ends and it’s 7:15p. Now the real Bingo begins. You steady what nerves you have left.
To be continued Wednesday with Part Four: Stockholm Syndrome Sets In