After we booked this escapade through UMass, I found out a Smith College bus was also going on the same day. I'm not totally comfortable in casinos and hoped I wouldn't run into any of my Smith colleagues.
We arrived at Foxwood's after the hour and a half trip, at which point Joanne and her friend Donna started making their way into the casino. I asked Joanne, "Aren't you going to play Bingo? The sign says the Bingo hall is that way." She replied, "Oh I can play Bingo at home, we're heading for the slot machines!" And off they went.
Johnny and I were suddenly standing in the lobby with no Bingo partners. My Dramamine hadn't worn off yet and I was feeling dazed and irritable. After a bit of discussion we managed to hook up with a few other couples Johnny knew from our bus. And then for the next 5 hours (at a cost of $50!), we all sat together and played bingo.
After 4 hours I was thinking about all the other things I could have been doing, and was regretting the trip in general. I wasn't upset about not winning, since in fact I was terrorized by the prospect of having to shout out BINGO! in front of the 2,000 people in that hall. (The place is huge.) But luckily I wasn't, well, lucky.
So we were playing along and I was marking my numbers, and I heard someone say (with excitement no less) that whoever won this game would get to go into the "money booth." Apparently this was the only game that came with that little bonus. Immediately I thought, "If there's a God in heaven don't let me win this game." The money booth is center stage, and it's like a cross between a phone booth and a wind tunnel. You stand in there by yourself, and in front of 2,000 people you try to grab as much money as you can in 60 seconds as it flies all around you. (And of course, you look like an idiot.)
The game continued, I only needed 4 more numbers, and I was starting to get a bad feeling. A premonition you might say. The numbers were visible on video immediately before they were called, and I couldn't take my eyes off the monitors. I was down to 3 numbers and I broke out in a cold sweat. At 2 numbers my heart started to race and I thought I might actually faint. I didn't tell anyone at my table that I only needed 2 more. (According to Bingo etiquette, it's customary to inform your friends when you're getting close, but I wasn't talking.)
Johnny was right across from me, working hard on his numbers, and he didn't know that I now had only one number to go. It was B-14. So there I sat, very still, my Bingo ink dabber poised and ready, hoping that B-14 would NOT appear on that monitor.
And then of course, it did.
I looked up at Johnny and said (in a tone more fitting for a funeral parlor than a bingo parlor), "I've got it."
The next few seconds seemed to happen in slow motion. Johnny looked at me and said "What?! " The announcer declared "B-14." I screamed "BINGO!" at the top of my lungs and then collapsed face first down onto the table. Johnny yelled "You won! You won! You get to go into the money booth!!!!!"
Not since my last car accident have I been so close to a heart attack. I couldn't pick my head up. As instructed, I waved my bingo paper in the air (so one of the floor monitors could find me) with my face still on the table. I imagined myself in that booth, with my Smith colleagues in the audience saying, "Isn't that Patty Hayes in there?"
By then our friends at the table were whooping and hollering. The Foxwood's Bingo woman approached me, took my paper, and started to tell me what I had to do next. "Now you just go up...." I cut her off, pleading, I CAN'T go into that booth! I'm, I'm... claustrophobic!! (A total lie.) She put her hand on my shoulder and gave me a kind smile. "Don't worry honey, someone can go FOR you."
I turned to Johnny and said, "YOU! YOU'RE going." He looked a little startled. And then someone else at our table volunteered, and we all agreed she'd do it for me. I didn't care what happened, as long as I didn't have to leave my seat. (And I didn't think I could actually stand up and walk anyway.)
The way things turned out, she didn't have to do anything. There were two other B-14 winners along with me, and only one gets to go into the booth. They draw cards, and the highest card wins. A very brave elderly woman went into that booth, and managed to grab more than $200 in the allotted minute.
When the dust settled and all prizes were divided among the 3 winners (the game itself was worth $800), I had won $260! At that point I decided bingo wasn't such a bad deal. (And then I tried even harder to win the last few games, especially the $10,000 game, but no luck.)
Later as we made our way onto the bus for the trip home, everyone asked everyone else, "How'd you make out? How'd you do?" With Johnny's help, my story soon made its way around the bus. He told absolutely everyone I think, including his mother, whom we hadn't seen all day. Meanwhile at my window, I sat happily clutching my winnings as my Dramamine kicked in, and fantasized about my next Bingo triumph.
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