Someone Hates Your Grandma - A BINGO STORY

[Bad] Ideas | Scriptdog


Out there in the world, your grandma, who has lived a long life and has intersected with all kinds of people, has at one time or another accrued a hater. She may not have been your G-Ma at the time, but she is now and she has an enemy.
Baking Cookies With Evil GrandmaWikiMedia Commons

Maybe she pissed off a co-worker for making cookies. Maybe she got into a fight with a neighbor because she sings too loudly when she’s planting gardenias in her garden. Maybe she over-negotiated on a leveraged-buyout when that was all the rage.

If your Grandma is (or was, RIP) a member of this race, the human race, (racing to where exactly?) then, no matter how many afghans she’s crocheted, how fluffy her slippers, or how cozy her kitchen, she made someone’s Enemies List at one time or another.
Evil Grandma GardeningWikimedia Commons

For as much as we like to compare our older members of society with babies (you know, metaphorically, how we become more and more helpless as we age, how we eat mushy food, how we need diapers, etc.,) there is one big difference: most babies don’t have someone who hates them.
Baby Eating MushUnsplash

It’s probably more accurate to say someone out there didn’t like her (past tense), because now that she’s a grandma, let’s be honest, nobody with a heart can really get worked up toward her (at least according to my storybook logic.) When someone hated her it was likely during an earlier chapter of her life. My grandma, however… Ugh.

My Grandma Likes to Hunt

My grandma used to spend many of her nights hunting, hunting for bingo games. Bingo games in churches, libraries, Knights of Columbus halls, bowling alleys and places where her bingo buds would converge. I used to go with her when I was in town visiting. [Note: I use the word “buds” loosely.]
Bingo Hall Bingo BattleUnsplash

MyGrandma was 82 and I would drive and she would beam because it meant she could show off her grandson (me) to all her friends.

One night when I joined her, the place was a community center — basically a big room with a couple dozen long tables arranged high school cafeteria style. Instead of the goths, jocks and nerds, here we had cliques like the ladies who had their hair set, the ladies with living husbands, the ladies with walkers, the ladies (there were mostly ladies) who smoked, and a few men and kids scattered about (usually accompanied by a lady.) The players sat mostly along one side of each of these long tables, spaced out so that each could play around 20 to 30 sheets at a time.
Bingo Capital of the WorldPhoto: Wikicommons

At one end of the large room, at the top of a few stairs, was a table where an older gentleman called out the bingo numbers. After a few moments when the room settled, he would turn his little contraption and pull out the next bingo ball and call out the number. There was a board behind him that would like up the numbers that had been called. On a nearby table, underneath a cloth is where he kept the prizes. The biggest prize was for the version of the game called I Hate Your Grandma, which was that night’s name for what they normally called COVERALL, the game where you had to fill in the full card.
Bingo Ball CageUnsplash

What is a Bingo Sheet?

Each player would pay a dollar per face (fancy name for bingo sheet, in this case with four games per sheet, so four faces) which contains 24 numbers and the free space in the middle. They used daubers, a type of marker shaped like a plastic bottle that comes with colored ink and a sponge-ish tip. The dauber stamps different symbols to mark their bingo spots as the letter and number combos are called out.
Bingo sheets, called FacesWikimedia Commons

The ladies were so good at scanning all their sheets/faces that I couldn’t keep up and slid my sheets over to my grandma and kinda helped her. She covered 75% of the numbers while I scanned the rest. Every time a letter/number was called out by the caller-guy, you would hear the room fill with the sound of daubers stomping down over and over across hundreds of sheets and numbers. It was tense as the players waited for someone to holler Bingo.

Bingo DaubersPhoto: Wikicommons

The quickest anyone could Bingo was when four number-letter combinations (B9, N46, etc.) had been called, and it happened often. The winning player had to have a card where the free space was used along with each of the first four number-letter combinations were on their card.

The prizes for these more traditional bingos were fine, usually TJ Maxx gift cards or skeins of yarn or even new daubers. When the games became more complex (relatively speaking, none of this approached War Game or Pokemon status) the prizes got more valuable.

There are normally seven ways to Bingo: Horizontal line, Vertical Line, Diagonal Line, the four corners (one in each corner), Postage Stamp (a square of four in any of the corners), Small Plus Sign and Small Letter X. Then, there is COVER ALL, the biggest game of the night, when the entire card is covered. Talk about endurance.

After 24 balls are called, it’s mathematically possible for there to arise a winner. (And they rise, believe me. Even those who were wheeled-in find a way to rise when they BINGO!) For the Coverall Game, everyone is on high alert and super attentive to their faces. Nobody is buying candy bars or boxes of cookies from the kids weaving around. Nobody is even so much as looking up. Every spot on the face needs to be stamped to win. And when 50 numbers have been called out and there’s still no winner, it’s intense. The next number announced is sure to be the one where the person across the room jumps up and yells Bingo!
Bingo LadyWikimedia Commons

The reason for the tension is the prize. The Coverall winner is awarded half the money collected throughout the course of the evening from the sale of bingo sheets. Usually this is around three or four hundred dollars. This evening’s prize was $645! Never mind skeins of yarn, forget about your TJ Maximus, this was like ten trips to the beauty parlor!

It took 63 balls before the Coverall Bingo was shouted out.

And wouldn’t you know it? It was my grandma who was Bingo-ing her brains out this time. Bingo Bingo!!!
Bingo!Wikimedia Commons
Everyone around her was staring at her. “That’s four times tonight she’s won!” (It was).
“Bingo! Bingo! I won! I won!”

Earlier in the night the lady next to us won a horizontal line game. She won a tube of chapstick.

WINNING LADY: What the hell am I going to do with a tube of Chapstick?
HER FRIEND: Use it on your personality.
LADY NEXT TO HER: My butt cushion is flat. Anyone got an extra butt cushion?
THE NEXT LADY NEXT TO HER: I accidentally smoked my cigarette backwards. Everything smells like burnt nose hair.
MY GRANDMA: I won over $600! I won! I can’t believe this!
And that’s when I realized someone hated my Grandma.

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Writer, Director, Producer of TV, Film and Stand-Up Comedy Tours in the MENA region and Asia. Writer's Guild, Director's Guild and Producer's Guild member. WARNING: Microdosing content will shift paradigm.

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