in the body of a 31-year-old.
case in point: saturday afternoon. we were at the annual feast of st. anthony festival in little italy (my yearly excuse to eat eggplant parmesan out of a paper container on foot), and just behind the bocce ball tournament there it was. the sign i’d been waiting for my whole over-18 life: 25 cent bingo.
“BABE!” i said to holly, with more excitement than anyone should ever have over a game many of us played in first grade. “LET’S PLAY BINGO AT THE SONS OF ITALY. IT’S ONLY 25 CENTS A CARD!”
that was the kicker. 25 cents. i pictured myself at a table with four to six cards in front of me, surrounded by piles of those little transparent red bingo chips i used to always find on the synagogue multipurpose room floor as a kid. i pictured myself shouting BINGO! amidst a sea of set senior hairdos and winning the whole damn pot and then buying another serving of eggplant parmesan and then an italian ice (the one in the lemon!) for dessert.
“really?” said holly, surprised. “you really want to?”
“YES REALLY.” i told her. “i’ve always wanted to play bingo!”
she happily obliged, and we made our way past the bustling bocce ball courts and festival crowds and walked into the famed sons of italy lodge. it smelled a little like a basement and a little like a church. i loved it immediately and couldn’t stop smiling.
there were round tables with lots of senior citizens sitting and talking (pros!) and ladies with those old-timey cloth money holders waitresses sometimes still tie around their waists going from table to table collecting money. there was as cute bar in the back, and a big light-up bingo board on the wall. it was like a real-life scratch-off lottery ticket (i love scratch-offs). i had finally found my crowd. i could barely contain myself.
we bought one card each. then two. then worked our way up to four. this was a lot for me to keep track of, as the heat had sort of melted my brain (i’m notoriously flaky when it hits 90 degrees) and my blood pressure was already pretty high, i’m sure, from the excitement of it all. i should mention that there were no transparent red bingo chips. instead, they were these neat red slidey things. i was disappointed for about a nanosecond, realizing quickly that picking up chips and placing them on the correct coordinates would only slow me down, and thus felt grateful for the technology.
i swear, every time we were remotely close to winning, some other person would shout “BINGO!” i was trying to be a good sport about it, but considering we had already spent like five bucks on about a million cards, i usually wound up calling each winner (never a senior, oddly; always some loud newbie visitor from the festival) a name or two in my head. (whaddaya want from me? i was high on lemonade and eggplant parm plus probably dehydrated so cut me some slack.)
the winning pots ranged from $10.50 to $13, so it’s not like we were missing out on anything major, money-wise. i just wanted to experience the sheer thrill of shouting BINGO! in the sons of italy lodge. still, just like scratch-offs, it’s the thrill of the chase. plus now i know the mystery that is senior bingo (oh you know where i’ll be hangin out in about 50 years!), and i treated myself to another eggplant parm anyway.