Tuesday, November 11, 2008

L'chaim, L'chaim, to Bingo!

Read my 60-second Esther story and the celebration of Purim if you want to get my silly references in this post.

Several weeks ago I attended my first elementary school bingo night with my seven-year-old, who desperately wanted to go. I did not feel the same way, but I obliged. The gym was packed to the gills with be-costumed children and parents who wore the same tolerant expression that I did.

One costume that I saw repeatedly was this pink and orange swirly, sequiny two-piece dress with a matching headscarf and white go-go boots. I saw this costume run past me repeatedly on girls of various shapes and sizes. What I also noticed was that it didn't quite cover all their strategic areas, so most girls had to wear both shorts and a t-shirt underneath this dress. Now, I am not a mother of daughters, so I could be wrong, but when you have to dress your child in an entirely additional outfit under their dress, MAYBE YOU SHOULD TRY A DIFFERENT COSTUME. Just sayin'.

It was a bizarre look. I heard someone ask what they were supposed to be, and a set of three identically dressed girls announced, "A hippie!" Huh. I don't remember this double-outfit trend (or sequins, for that matter) in any drug-addled war protest pictures I've seen. But I digress.

So the gym was packed with costumed kids hopped-up on sugar and ready to rumble in the bingo scene. We started into our first of ten games and it was eerily quiet. The letters and numbers would appear on the power point screen as the announcer called them out. My son was eating it up, sure he would win one of these games, the $100 grand prize, and the capacity to buy himself a huge Lego castle set.

Eventually someone announced a winning card, and as they ran to the front to confirm, the most bizarre thing happened. The gym erupted in the chant, "False alarm! False alarm!" They were stomping and clapping and rockin' the house. Now, it's been a while since I've attended a typical bingo night. But I don't think it's a stretch to say that the typical senior citizen attendees of said bingo nights would not be screaming fit to shake the gym down. The cacophony continued until the winner was announced or the player was sent back to his/her seat in disgrace for accidentally marking the wrong square.

As my ears rang at the end of every game, I was reminded of the Purim celebration-- a packed room, costumes, sugared-up kids, and people screaming to drown out the dreaded word. It was a flashback to my visit to the synagogue in Jerusalem. But this time, the only thing at stake was a Lego castle.

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