Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I Got Caught Cheating

I tried to be cautious.

I was casual, glancing around and smiling to cover up my indiscretion. I tried to be subtle, and to employ subterfuge to hide the truth.

But I got caught.

“Marti, you didn’t cover up B 12!” chided my mother-in-law.

It was true. I’ve been doing it for weeks now.

Cheating at BINGO.

I just couldn’t bring myself to claim one of the prizes...a box of Kleenex or cereal from the table where the numbers caller sits, rolling the basket of colored, numbered balls.

I was in a room full of munchkins (old people shrink, I was the only human being there who was over five feet tall) at the Senior Citizens Center, where I’ve driven my sweet mother-in-law to play bingo three times a week every since Pop passed. They had welcomed me with open arms.

“Oh, you’re driving Maxine now! That’s wonderful, just wonderful!”

Looking at their adorable little smiles, hugging them gently, (fearful of breaking them) I watched as they played their cards passionately. Seeing their anticipation as they came closer to winning. Seeing the resignation on their wrinkled little faces if someone at another table called out “BINGO”. (There is camaraderie amongst table-mates, and barely-under-their-breath grumbling that so-and-so at another table plays five cards or wears a wig. I’m not sure how wig-wearing came to be so sinful, but it is held in high disdain).

And I couldn’t bear the thought of taking one of their prized prizes.

So I cheated - to lose.

I would hear the number called but not cover it up on my card. I would casually sip my water. I would cough or blow my nose. I would do everything short of shouting, “Look, a truckload of Depends has crashed outside!”

All of the table-mates had been telling me I must be terribly unlucky. That I should get a different card, with “better numbers”. I would smile and say that was OK, I was having fun.

Then I got busted.

Mother-in-law started watching my card for me. She must have thought I was so simple-minded that the concept of covering up the number as it was called, completely escaped me. She started pointing out the numbers on my card, insisting I cover them.

So alas, I won. Sigh. I tried to give the prize to her, but she would have none of it.

Anybody need a box of Kleenex?

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