As you may or may not have, but probably have noticed, I haven’t posted any blogs this week. What can I say, I’m sorry? Okay, I’m sorry, but I’m a busy lady, or as some like to say…a busy beaver 🙂

What do you do when you get bored? My mother and I had a conversation about boredom the other day. Do you eat when you’re bored? Sometimes I do…and I think we all know how boring it gets on the treadmill.

Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

Seriously though, I am rarely bored and if I get bored, I do something about it. For example, a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday, I had nothing planned for that night and I was talking to my mom and somehow Bingo came up in the conversation. I said, “I love Bingo and I bet I could find place in North Hollywood that has Bingo!” and sure enough, I did.

I almost didn’t go because I looked up where the Bingo hall was and it’s in a deep and disgusting part of the Valley, lucky for me, only about 15 minutes from where I live. But I decided to go anyway and I went alone because since it was at the last minute, I figured if I asked any of my friends if they wanted to go play some spur of the moment Bingo, they would say, “When did you turn 80?”

Keep in mind, I haven’t played Bingo since I was a kid at the church family Bingo night. Remember those? Back when you played with one little card and winning Bingo was getting the pattern that went down, across or on a diagonal. I found out the hard way that’s child’s play to serious Bingo players.

Since I had never gone before, I called in advance to find out how much it would cost. The guy on the phone asked me if I was playing for $250 or $500. I said I wasn’t sure. He told me to bring $22.00, twenty for Bingo and two for the cash bowl…whatever that was. I’m still not sure but I know I didn’t win.

It was like this! Wouldn't you be nervous?

I got there and it was a giant hall where all they do is play Bingo six nights a week. There are two big rooms with lots of long tables lined up and a lot of people were already sitting down playing something. There was a lot more than Bingo going on there too, but I don’t know what.   I got in line and when I got up to the cashier he asked me what I was playing. I said “Bingo” and he said, how much do you want? I was already confused, so I told him it was my first time there and the guy on the phone told me to bring $22.00. Then he looked confused. I said, “The guy on the phone told me to bring $20.00 for Bingo and $2 for something else. He said, “The cash bowl?” I said, “Yeah, that’s it.” Then he asked me if I wanted to play the Early Bird Bingo and I said, “sure,” then he asked me if I wanted to play the intermission Bingo and I said, “sure” again. He said my total was $30. I found out when I sat down and looked at my receipt that the Early bird and intermission Bingo cost me an extra $8. Oh well, I figured I’d jump right in, the more Bingo the better!

I was looking around to find a good place to sit but was more interested in the people, since they all looked like they just got out of jail or rehab the day before. It was some crowd. I finally settled next to two relatively normal looking older ladies. I asked them a question and they answered me in a heavy Russian accent, at least I think it was Russian. Who knows, who cares? All I knew was that they wouldn’t be of much help if I couldn’t understand them. So I moved down the table a few chairs and sat next to a couple of ladies who were probably in their 70’s. I told them it was my first time there and they took me under their Bingo wings.

This is what I was playing. My mentors were playing 5 of these at once

First of all, on one sheet, there are six Bingo games, so at the very least you play six games at one time. This took a lot of concentration on my part. Meanwhile, the two professional Bingo players next to me were playing five sheets at a time, which means they were playing 30 games of Bingo at once! Holy crap! I asked them how they did it and one of the ladies said, “It’s conditioning.” Like she was an athlete. Serious Bingo also goes way beyond the simple, down, across, diagonal patterns. You can get Bingo if you have six in a corner or four in a block with two on a diagonal, sometimes you can use the free space, sometimes you can’t, you can get just the corners, or you can get a T or an L or a cross shape, but you have to get these patterns on at least three games on the sheet to win. It actually became somewhat stressful since I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I was so afraid I might win and not know it. What happened to the simple Bingo of my youth? I was playing with the pros now, this was the big time.

In between the numbers being called, I was torn between paying attention to the game and people watching. Let me tell you something, these people are in it to win it. They are serious Bingo players and they are not friendly people, not to mention that they are probably playing to pay off drug debts or loan sharks or some other unsavory activities. They all looked like 2-pack a day smokers and when there was a 10 minute smoke break, the place practically cleared out as I sat there wondering what the hell I was doing on a Saturday night at a Bingo hall in the Valley.

But the ladies next to me were nice and one of them won! She yelled Bingo, scared the shit out of me, and ended up winning $250. I was happy for her, especially since she was so skilled. After three hours I was bored, and they don’t serve alcohol so I really started to lose interest. Apparently, most of the people play for five and half hours but there was no way I could take two and half more hours of stressful Bingo, weird people and no booze. When I told my Bingo mentors that I was leaving, they looked at me like I was crazy. “How can you possibly leave Bingo after only three hours?” is what their faces were saying. I didn’t want to tell them I was bored, because people who actually have “Bingo bags” with Bingo supplies in them do not find Bingo boring.  I guess I don’t have to tell you that I didn’t win. I really wanted to because after all, like the saying goes, “Happiness is yelling Bingo!”

Fun fact: Bingo was originally called Beano because they would put beans on the numbers. Then one night way back in 1929, a woman got all excited and yelled Bingo instead of Beano. There happened to be a salesman at the carnival, who took the idea, ran with it, and hired a Columbia University math professor, Carl Leffler, to help him increase the number of combinations in bingo cards. By 1930, Leffler had invented 6,000 different bingo cards. [It is said that Leffler then went insane.]

So that was my Bingo night; not quite the relaxing experience I hoped it would be.  I would consider going again if I could rope a friend into going with me, but I think I’d have to smuggle some booze in my purse. Bingo definitely should not be played sober, unless of course, you just got out of rehab like the people I was playing with.

I hope your weekend isn’t so boring that you randomly decide to hunt down a Bingo hall, but if  you do, remember it’s a serious game where you can win serious money, and at the very least give you the opportunity to observe some very interesting people.

Have a great weekend! 🙂  BINGO!

About Death To Hollywood

My name is Celeste Donohue and I am a writer/comedian who started this blog to tell stories about my life growing up in a funeral home and my adult life which I have spent in Hollywood, California – hence the name, “Death To Hollywood”. Hopefully, you like to read those kinds of stories. If not, go read something serious and boring.....
This entry was posted in catholic church, family, Hollywood, weird and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to BINGO!

  1. the elder sister says:

    $30 for Bingo!! WOW!! And they didn’t even have complimentary wine! I think you would have gotten more from a visit to Wal-mart, $30 worth of stuff AND odd people to write about!

  2. Cissie donohue alias Mom says:

    Celeste,I really cracked upwhen I readthis piece.I think because I had a mental picture of you freaking out.Glad you used your imagination,and enjoyed the experience.I stillhave the game here,that you bought,Awhile back.Love,Mom

  3. Kris says:

    Oh my God, Cee!! That story is so great!!! I had a mental image the entire time. You jumping when the lady yelled BINGO is so funny! Serious BINGO people……in the valley in LA….. priceless!

  4. Susan says:

    Dude. Now I totally want to play bingo. Does that make me a masochist?

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