I’d hoped to visit my dear darling cousin Maggie in Alabama in a couple of weeks, but plans have changed, and perhaps later. In her e-mail today, she mentioned a visit from her sister, and how much fun they had:
Sis and I went to church tonight for Bingo and Barbecue. A hooting, hollering night with all those folks shouting out BINGO and so excited about winning those little prizes. I don’t believe I’ve played bingo since I was a child.
And my astonished reply:
I'm finding it hard to reconcile the sweet, spiritual vision of you and your church---My Country Baptist heart has lifelong envied Catholics and Episcopalians the ritualistic CALM, the recitations, the prayers said in unison, and above all, the QUIET reflective hands-clasped demurely head-bowedness of it. Many times in letters, when you've just had to share the wonder of your morning in church, you've portrayed the sweet simplicity of the hallowed words from my childhood---"missal," and "Prayerbook" and how I longed to live where there was Eucharist and Liturgy. And now YOU, Silly Girl, have Hooted AND Hollered at church. Hear the obnoxious PTTTTTTTHHHHHKTTTTT of my punctured balloon escaping and flying rudely around the ceiling??
Ha. Barbecue and Bingo. That's my style of evening. I love a good Bingo game, but not the money ones, at least not the money ones that are a BUSINESS. Not the ones with snorty mean-lady regulars who KNOW you don't belong, and don't mind telling you so, or who razz winners like a buncha fraternity jerks on a new pledge. AND NOT the smoky yelling frenetic ones with forty cards in front of you all ink-dobbed like a Pollock placemat.
Just the little hometown, church or school or Ladies' Auxiliary ones with little prizes like doilies and a carwash and a dozen lily bulbs from Mrs. Pund's prize collection. And especially if a school class is raising money for a new flagpole or a trip to a historic place---and YESSS if they've gone around town taking their bashful selves into store after store where they've shopped all their lives, receiving small tokens from the merchants like flashlights and coin purses and a set of those glasses that didn't sell. Those are the ones I remember, where maybe the Choir director with the nice voice is the caller, and the numbers are drawn by gloving a hand into a discreet velvet bag and pulling out a wooden disc. I just love those.
I remember once when Mayor VanDeventer was doing the calling, and somehow he fumbled the little disc and dropped it, with Miss Early, the Home-Ec teacher trying vainly to step on it and stop its headlong roll. She got two little wobbly stomps at it, and kicked it smack-dab into the furnace grate, so we HAD TO WAIT to get the thing out. I mean, it was IMPORTANT. Not just to whoever mighta been cheated outa a good yell if they just drew another number, but somehow the whole heart would go out of the game, knowing that maybe 0-74 was down there in the chalk-dust and you needing it to win that lamp.
I remember the ones at our High School---it was always at Halloween Carnival, and all the parents skipped over Haunted House and Duck Pond and Curtain-with-Fishpole-Prizes, and went straight to the cafeteria, impatient for the calling to start. Many an impatient beehind has polished those stainless steel stools to a high gloss before the evening was over. I won a Sunbeam iron once, and once a string of pearls, and another time the Grand Prize: the most gosh-awful LAMP---if there were a prize for unfortunate design, it was right up there with that Leg Lamp in the movie.
The stand part was pretty, a nice fifties turquoise, and at that time, I thought it simply the height of attractive DAYCOR, with its shade made of matching turquoise metal strips, each like the slat of a Venetian blind had been folded into squares of successive sizes, like an odd little Pagoda floating at the top. It was clattery and weird, and I know it would violate the taste-strings of everybody whose taste ain’t all in their mouth, but I kept it in my bedroom for YEARS, and wish I knew what happened to it.
The shade but not the phone.
We DID go to a church bingo night once years ago, and Chris and I won the fifty/fifty---six hundred and something dollars!!
Does anyone have just a little plain old hometown Bingo anymore?