Monday, July 20, 2009

Saturday Night at the Bingo Hall

Location: Turn of the Century Bingo Hall, near Aurora, Colorado. Stardate 109927773. After teleporting to a questionable suburb of the city Earthlings call Denver, we are greeted at the door by dozens of humans lighting small tobacco delivery devices called cigarettes and frantically inhaling them. They seem a diverse group, some in matching tees emblazoned with "Jesus Saves" on the back. Some tote small metal canisters to assist their breathing. Others carry electronic boxes; perhaps they are interstellar communication devices. In the top picture above, we see that a gently used Toyota Camry has decided to ram the front door of the Turn of the Century Bingo Hall.

As we enter the hall we encounter a furry creature made entirely of used pickle cards, and it is two feet deep and rapidly enlarging due to the elderly persons next to it, whose job is evidently purchasing losing pickle cards and throwing them on the pile. I am overwhelmed by the bright lighting and the empty feeling in my soul. We immediately turn around and leave, bound for the local tavern to obtain reinforcement in the form of Southern Belles (Peach Schnapps and Crown Royal).

Emboldened and ready to get our bingo on, we return to the bingo hall next door. A cursory explanation of the night's slate informs us that we buy "packs" which consist of 6 separate sheets each printed with six bingo squares. I shell out the $16 for two packs and spend my last $3 on pickles for good measure. The memorabilia I'm most excited for, the colored markers used to mark your bingo sheet, come in hundreds of different colors. Arvada's High School Band is the nonprofit group running tonight's bingo game, so there are high school children running around the bingo hall assisting the elderly and calling numbers.

The game stars almost immediately after we redeem our "free soda and medium popcorn" coupon, conveniently mailed to my bingo partner's house the day prior (coincidence? Surely not). Unfortunately, this bingo hall is alcohol-free and the woman at the snack bar refuses my request to spike it; luckily, the liquor store next door honors my wishes and my out-of-state ID. We quickly return to the bingo hall for game 1: H. The object of this game is to form an H with your bingo card; afterwards, the game continues until someone blacks out their bingo card. The game is uneventful until the caller misreads one ball, saying "I sixteen, sixteen under the I," when the actual ball is I twenty-six. The crowd erupts in dismay, yelling at the caller until she's near the verge of tears. One male even tells her she's "worthless," which I thought was going a little far.

The picture above is me playing bingo. As we both fail to win the $50 jackpot for the first round, we realize that the fifty is split four ways, really making the jackpot almost completely worthless after tax. I dip my marker in nacho cheese for good luck, making my marks green with an orange halo around them.

During the next two games, we realize the odds are against us. Several people have a half-dozen packs in front of them, and I learn that the interstellar communication devices are actually e-bingo, which means that the players just pay for their e-packs and the machine keeps track of all their bingo cards for the them. I assume there are three groups of people that pay for these: 1) the grizzled gamblers that are just in this for the money, not for the markers; 2) the grizzled smokers who simply can't sit inside for an entire game and instead sit outside smoking and watching their e-bingo; and 3) the feeble-minded who simply can't wrap their minds around what "B 3" means, or who lack the coordination to match the called number with the sheet in front of them. Most likely, there is a complex combination of these three conditions.

We leave a couple hours later penniless but with our dignity intact, despite having been taken for all our cash (actually, all my cash, as my playing partner operates on a debit-/credit-only basis) by a group of elderly women and high school band members. I take comfort in knowing that a young tuba player may march because of my contribution. Besides, I have a nacho-flavored green bingo marker to remember that wonderful night.


  1. Was there at least some HS snatch to look at!?

  2. The moderator of this chat board feels that the question is inappropriate... and the answer is yes.