Saturday, April 25, 2009

B-I-N-G-O

What started out as ironic hipster fun--let's go to the senior center for Friday night spaghetti and bingo--turned out to be a truly amazing evening.

The scene: a nondescript dining room packed with utilitarian tables and chairs, a makeshift stage and bingo board up front; and a standing room only crowd, made up of--in addition to the unflappable seniors--twenty-somethings dressed for the clubs, one kid with a blond 'fro and a yellow fedora, a sleek tanned girl in a sparkly purple top and heels; whole families crowded around a table, from grandma on down to a fat grinning baby; half-dozens of Gen X'ers sucking down $3 ESBs and scanning the karoake sheets for their next number; and many many mom-and-dad looking people, the ladies in themed sweatshirts or appliqued sweaters, the guys in pressed shirts and jeans, their hair slicked back.

Bingo was the main event. We hunched over our sheets, markers in hand, nervous as the seconds ticked by. When, finally, somebody yelled "bingo!" a dejected groan went up. When bingo was confirmed, we balled up our loser sheets and fired them as projectiles at the guiltily grinning winner.

The announcement of O-69 never failed to generate a roar and thunderous applause.

And it was a kind-hearted crowd. The karaoke ranged from heartfelt classics (the two emcees doing air-trombone off to the side) to full-on jazzed-up performances, all of which were met with cheers, laughs, clapping, and--later in the night--only the occasional yawn.

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