Bingo Queen | January 28, 2021

Kyle’s first job out of law school was with a hockey league.  As far as I was concerned this was a very good career move because his office was down the street from mine meaning we could carpool, and also because he had the best boss in the world.  Gino was a great boss for a lot of reasons that didn’t affect me, and one that did: bingo.

For two years, Kyle, Gino, and I spent our Tuesday lunch hours at a bar/restaurant playing blackout bingo.  It’s important to note that while we went to this particular barestaurant specifically for the bingo, bingo was the least-significant thing we did there.  Instead, it was more about the rest of the events surrounding the game: We needed to get there early enough so that we could sit down, order lunch, buy bingo cards, pick out dabbers, test the dabbers, swap out original dabbers for luckier dabbers, and give Gino time to walk around and say hello to everyone before the first game started. 

We had a specific table that we liked because it was close to the bingo board where the numbers were displayed.  There was another couple who also liked our table, and if they happened to beat us to it then we had to wander around until we found a new table and then spend five or so minutes complaining about the second-rate quality of it.

We had a specific waitress that we liked because she had zero sense of humor and would ignore all of Gino’s attempts to tell a joke.  Once I couldn’t go to bingo and so Kyle brought a friend of ours – also a woman – and our waitress initially refused to wait on her because she thought Kyle was cheating on me; which makes sense, because if Kyle was going to stray he would definitely take her to our usual spot and bring Gino along as a witness.  (I gave her a huge tip after that little scenario.)

Once the game started, we had a specific way to complain about the fact that we weren’t winning.  Our food usually arrived just as the first game was kicking off, and so our M.O. was to take a bite, chew loudly enough that we couldn’t hear the number called, ask someone around us for the number, repeat it to one another, and then dab.

And then, after the game was over, we would toss down our dabbers, comment enthusiastically about the crappiness of our cards, pay our bill, and drive quickly back downtown so that I could get to work before the end of my allotted lunch hour.

Because our cards were always crappy.  Kyle and Gino had taken home the $20 prize a couple of times each, but I had never even come close.  This was not a surprise to me in the slightest, as I had never bested a lottery-based game in my life.  A raffle drawing?  Nope.  A cakewalk dessert?  Nope.  The actual lottery?  No.  I once played turkey bingo at my elementary school, and literally EVERY SINGLE student in the cafeteria won a prize except for me.  But I went faithfully every Tuesday, because the price I paid for my cards each week was worth the admission for the equivalent of a one-hour mental cardio class, if cardio was served with ranch dressing and cans of Coke and half of the class had a smoke hanging out of his or her mouth (you could smoke in bars back then).

That is, until one random Tuesday.

We had sat down at our usual table, surrounded by our usual fellow bingo players, and ordered our usual meals.  Kyle picked up the cards, Gino selected the dabbers, and I swapped out the original dabbers for luckier ones.  Our food arrived just as the first game started, and so I was much more focused on shoveling down my sandwich than I was at how many spaces I was dabbing.

“Couldn’t give my cards away,” Gino muttered, as the bingo caller announced the 61st number.

“Me neither,” Kyle said.  “Five spaces left on this one, four on this one.”

I took a too-big bite of my lunch and went to count my empty spaces.

“Holy cow,” I said through a mouthful of food.  “I’m only one away.”

Gino looked up.  “What number?”

It was N-33, which was the next ball called.

“Bingo!” I shouted, which sounded more like “Bonyo” because I was still eating.

I won $20.  I was very excited.  Gino was very excited.  Kyle never gets very excited about anything, so he was just Kyle.  The regular at the table next to us – who was such a regular that the waitress just brought him his lunch and his check when he sat down – grumbled a “Good job,” which was the first (and last) time I ever heard him speak.  And with that, the celebration was over because the second game was starting and we were back to business.

“Maybe I should retire,” I whispered to Gino.

“Shush and dab your cards,” he whispered back.

I had decided early that my lucky bingo number was I-29, because my birthday is January 29th and because it felt important to have a lucky number for a game that’s entirely up to chance.  Incidentally, both of my bingo cards for the second game had an I-29.  And incidentally, both of those cards filled up very quickly.

By the time we reached the 50th number, Gino had pushed aside his own cards and was cheering on mine.

“Let’s go, B-4,” he said quietly.

“Before what, ammiright?”  Kyle asked, repeating his weekly joke, which normal sent Gino and I into fits of laughter.  We ignored him.

“B-4,” the bingo caller announced.  I dabbed.

“Now we need a G-60,” Gino said a little more aggressively.

“G-60,” the bingo caller announced.  I dabbed.

“C’MON I-29!” Gino said loudly.

“I-29,” the bingo caller announced.

“BINGO!”  I screeched.  Gino jumped up from his chair.  “Stop the game!  She got Bingo!”

I won $200 and bought lunch.  The regular at the table next to us shook my hand.  Gino told every single person in the barestaurant that I had won both of the lunchtime games, and suggested to the ownership that they should hang a plaque for me – which they didn’t, so instead Gino bought me a shirt.  The shirt is now a part of a t-shirt blanket, so a picture of our official Kosior bingo dabber (yes, we own one) is above.

It’s a short-but-mighty news week this time – about a video, an app, and a lot of cell phones and coats.  Read on.

The NDSCS Media Squad has created a national award-winning video to help prevent drug abuse. (NDSCS)

A Fargo church held a Cold Weather Clothing Drive-Thru in order to gather up donations for community members in need. (KVRR)

Jamestown is now “home” to a new baby app that is meant to support a mother through the first few years of her child’s life. (News Dakota)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out last week’s tale about winter activities.)

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