Life is full of stressful situations. The kind of shit that makes you tense up, breath faster, and sweat like a hog. The worst of the worst has your heart racing like a runaway train. Your mind wants to focus, but you can’t. Suddenly, your limbs seem to get heavier. When it is real bad, you feel as if you are moving in slow motion. Regardless of how things are going, you seem to feel like all hope is lost. You’d like more than nothing to just relax.
I’ve been in all sorts of these situations. Job interviews or funerals are one type that just wreak havoc on the nerves. I’ve sat through long dental procedures and felt as claustrophobic as one can get. I’ve laughed off an emergency appendectomy because for some reason it really didn’t have me worried when I was told they were going to open me up. There are the work related moments where I’ve been worried about a layoff or just spent the better part of my day being verbally accosted by complete strangers. All that is enough to induce a panic attack. However, I am here to tell you that those scenarios were a cake walk compared to the one activity I deem the most stressful I have ever encountered.
What in the world could I be talking about? There can’t be anything more stressful than a funeral, can there? What fantastic activity could make Nick Wallander so stressed that he wants to blog about it? I’ll tell you what that activity is. It’s BINGO. Yep. The card and number based game of chance. The one we all played back in grade school for one. The same BINGO that millions of elderly ladies play every single night. BINGO, my friends, is enough to give someone a coronary.
Yes, I am serious. The game of BINGO is nothing but a haven for anxiety and stress. Now, I am not talking about BINGO in a church basement. I am sure that shit has its share of stress, but it is nothing compared to official BINGO sessions at a major casino. Have you ever been to one? If so, you know exactly what I am talking about. You could walk into a BINGO hall and cut the tension with a knife. Seriously, you may be able to cut through the air with a knife because I have never seen such a cloud of smoke from cigarettes.
The main reason BINGO is so stressful is because there are hundreds of people and generally there is only one winner. Many of these people have anywhere from $15 to $200+ dollars on the line. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being put into any situation where my odds of being the winner are slim to none. Hell, I know that the odds are astronomical, but I still play. Now imagine how stressful it is for someone who truly believes they will win every game they play.
Making it even more stressful is that people take BINGO way too seriously. You’ll see all the regulars there with their little leather carrying cases for the paint dobbers. Yep, there is a commercial market for dobber carrying cases. These are the same people who line up trolls and buy several packs of BINGO cards while simultaneously playing some games on an electronic system. BINGO is a big event for these people. They take it more seriously than their jobs. That is probably because it is the job of many of these people. I wager that a large sum of money from unemployment checks go towards BINGO admission.
Now, I don’t know if BINGO is as stressful for the regular attendees as it is for me. Perhaps they are used to the suspense and drama of it all. What I do know is that they are some mean bitches out there. They will look at you with a stink eye if you so much as even think about breaking some time honored unwritten BINGO rule. (I am not sure what these rules are, but am certain that they exist). These people will scold you just for whispering across the table to your friend. Nobody talks during these games. It is quieter than a courtroom or a funeral in there. That only makes things worse because any slight noise gets people nervous that someone is squirming to yell “BINGO”.
I honestly believe that I could be murdered at a BINGO hall. The people there would turn on me in an instant. That fear for safety gets the heart pumping with adrenaline. They are an eclectic breed of humanity. Most of them mutter under their breath between every number. Some line up their dobbers to be used in a specific order. Others will not blink for two hours and still manage to mark their cards. They are so focused on the game that a parade of midgets could pass by them and they wouldn’t even notice. However, they would notice if they thought you were about the win.
On Saturday night I felt violated a few times with all the eye fucking that was being done by complete strangers. Some of it was done because the crew and I were way too young to be at BINGO. The older folks don’t want us there because they feel we are quicker on the draw with calling BINGO. They are probably right, but it is no reason to hate. Then there are the white trash people who are there because they actually need the money. Probably for booze, cigarettes, and to finish the tattoos of their abusive father’s name.
There was a nice white trash young woman, in her early 20s sitting on our table on Saturday night. She was equipped with her own dobber case and a pack of cigarettes. She had a raspy voice from all the smoking she had been doing as well as several bombastic tattoos on her arm. She wouldn’t have caught my attention except for her “tourette’s” fits when numbers were called. There was that and the fact that she was noticeably pregnant. Probably six or seven months along. On top of the smoking, she was also guzzling down a bunch of caffeinated beverages. But hey, who am I to judge? This girl just wanted to buy nice things for her baby. Or new Pumas for her baby daddy.
I was afraid of this girl. It was apparent that she may have once stabbed a person just because they asked her for the time. We built up the courage to borrow her pen. Then she gave us firm and commanding instructions about the third game, which we did not ask about. With every number called, I was already nervous, but it was five times worse because I felt like this pregnant bitch was going to lunge over the table at me.
We played about twelve games of BINGO on Saturday night. Every single one of them was the most stressful experience of my life. Each number called had my heart racing. I probably could have died at any moment.
And yes, I loved every moment of it.