Some people say that there are only certain things you can count on, like death and taxes. Well, death is for certain. There are other things that become so inevitable that it comes to a point where you are too tired to fight and give in to what is meant to be. It doesn’t matter what you have fooled yourself into thinking. Your sense importance, coolness, or our ever in overdrive egos don’t matter. Destiny is destiny. Mine has become clear. I am just grateful that God has seen fit to make sure I am never going to be alone in it. For better or worse (for them), I have my beloved Capri and Socks.
The three of us have been talking about the trip we wanted to take in our 50th year. We wanted to go somewhere and not have to drive or worry about how we look or act. There is only one place that could provide us with the annomus and convenience we want: a casino.
Las Vegas was the first choice. You have seen all the commercials. I don’t have to repeat it. None of us were too keen on being that far away and I am not financially in a place to go. Atlantic City. I went last year and really liked it. Veto. We finally narrowed it down to a couple of dates and one of the casinos has our favorite comedian performing on the week we want to go. Ok. We have that set when Socks mentions the one thing that is bigger than the three of us.
Socks: If we go, we are playing bingo. They have big-time games and we can wear velour tracksuits.
The first part of her statement involves me. Velour and a girl my weight and shape are a recipe for a wildfire. Something to understand here is that bingo runs through our veins. My mother and our Aunt Joan were staunch bingo thugs. That’s correct, I said thugs. My mother, con of all cons, with the fancy outfit and the limp had the .357 of bingo bags. Her bingo bag included a giant magnifying glass, bingo chips (which are not used anymore), a dabber,
St Therese prayer novena cards (she carried at least 20 of them everywhere and once handed them out at a Baptist church in Missouri), rosary beads and a conviction that she was gonna hit it big and really stick it to my father sideways. Aunt Joan had an oxygen tank and her foul mouth. She didn’t need anything else. There are three women on this planet that really scare me. Two are named Angela and one was Aunt Joan. I feared her and loved her equally and I really loved her. She was a skinny lady. She would smoke with that oxygen tank. She would curse you out as fast as she could focus her eyes on you. She would also give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. She was my mother’s eyes at bingo. She would curse just filth and tell my mother to shut up and get over it. My mother didn’t like cursing although she did a fair amount of it. She never said “fuck” or “asshole”. If anyone said that around her she would flinch as she said she could picture both and it would gross her out. While we all had Aunt Joan in the bingo bloodline, Socks had several great aunts and one of her grandmothers. Capri had all this plus she would have to clean up after St Anthony’s bingo when she was a kid. I don’t know if this was a punishment or part of being charitable that her mother made her do.
Now, we all agree that we will do bingo when it occurs to me. When we were kids that these ladies are vicious. Aunt Joan and my mother would yell at people to shut up, got pissed and nasty if someone took their seats, would get mad if they didn’t win and would yell at the caller to “SHAKE YOUR BALLS”. This is what we grew up with and I am too unstable hormonally to not rage or cry at an old lady that has the potential to be mean to me. We need to get our feet wet before we go and fuck it up royally. I suggest that we find a few bingo games at some different locations to not make complete douchebags out of ourselves. I like to think of it as training for some K running race. I will get my reflexes, dabber hand and the scanning motion in my eyes up ready to compete. We need to be warriors. Ready for action, if you will.
It all sounds good in theory, in practice, the three of us are a shit show. We look up a Tuesday night bingo. We decide to meet at Sage’s Bistro in Guilderland. Capri is late. She is always late. She was driving around the parking lot. She didn’t see the sign. She called me and Socks three times apiece. She finally gets there. She is wearing white jeans and a darling top. Socks is wearing a great work outfit. I am in a black tank top and distressed jeans. I am covered in Cheetos because I was babysitting my great nephew and our favorite thing is Cheetos. His second favorite thing is painting Aunt Mary with Cheetos fingers. I also have my lucky sweat jacket wrapped around my waist. We get salads and Capri is getting anxious. She is worried that we will get yelled at or look stupid. I tell her we don’t have to do it if it is giving her so much stress. I believe her anxiety comes from her fear of numbers. We all carry pretty heavy scars from the math nun from hell. Socks is the only one that has success with numbers. Anyways, we pay the bill and head to the bingo place. We are arguing over the start time. One website says 7 and the other one is at 7:30. We had planned on the 7:30 one. We even make phone calls. What we didn’t realize is that there are two of the ethnic organizations in Albany. Socks and I go the agreed upon one and Capri is off and running to the other location. Somehow we stop her from going the wrong place and end up getting there all at the same time. As we are walking up we panic about what door to go into, where do we buy tickets and most of all where the hell is the ladies room. We follow the sound, find a ladies room and stand in line to buy cards. There are packages of $18, $15, $12 and $6. Capri explains to the woman that we haven’t done this since we are kids and we are 50 now and we don’t know what the hell we are doing. The woman tells us to buy the $12 package. As we walk away, we see the $15 lady say something to the lady who talked to us and I am guessing the $15 lady was wondering why she didn’t take all of our money and the other lady was probably saying that she couldn’t because we looked too stupid. She may have been worried that taking our money would be a sin as we are so stupid.
Next, we have to find a place to sit. I want to be close to the board so I can see. I’m blind as a bat and don’t trust my eyes. We find a place up close and sit
down. We see food for sale and it doesn’t look half bad. Then we see a toothless woman in a pink volunteer jacket eating a chicken wing. I can’t take my eyes off of her. She ate the fuck outta that wing and I am impressed. I have a new role model and tell Socks and Capri. They are not surprised. Wing lady is with some other pink coat ladies. I figured they may be a volunteer at one of the nursing homes in the area. One lady in her group has a matching dapper for each game. I didn’t mention that Capri’s older sister, Naples, gave us her bingo bag. If you knew Naples, you wouldn’t be at all shocked she had a bingo bag. Capri asks the pink coats some questions and explains again that we haven’t done this since we are little and our relatives took us to play. She is nervous as to how this woman is going to react. She is clearly the brains of the pink coats. To our surprise and delight, these women could not have been nicer. Wing lady explains everything to us. She told us that if we have any questions to just speak up and they would be glad to help us. It is a kinder gentler bingo than we remember. We get are getting into our groove when some lady starts going around the room for 50/50 drawing yelling something about bacon. It must be a private joke of the club. It was pissing me off. I only had a salad for dinner and they were out of m&m’s. About halfway through, they take a 10-minute break. Capri tells the pink coats where we are from and what parish we belonged to as kids. If you are Catholic you would know that this is just information you give. It is like asking what neighborhood you are from. We all apologize to the ladies for taking up their time but thank them for helping us. We were probably the youngest ones there and I think the pink coats got a kick out of us. Capri has one final question for them.
Capri: When I was a kid and went to bingo, one lady would go “quack quack” when O-66 was called. I heard someone ring a bell tonight when it was called. Do you know what it means?
No one had a clue so I googled it and it is a superstition. It is to keep the evil one away. You make noise to scare it away.
We still are not completely in fighting shape for casino bingo but we did have fun. I hope Mom and Aunt Joan and all those mean, cursing, crazy, wonderful women are looking down on us. My guess is they are as we didn’t win any money. Bitches.