107: Bingo

on November 29, 2007 in 04: The Body Politick

In Which The Merits Of Ball Polishing Are Discussed

All through dinner, Two excitedly explained the rules and history of bingo, which she’d looked up and memorized, to anybody who would listen… which was each of us in turn, as none of us had the heart to cut her off now that she’d found something she wanted to talk about.

Steff begged off from the nominal festivities, claiming a pressing commitment with Viktor. As she departed, she reminded Amaranth, “Don’t forget about tomorrow night, hon!”

“I won’t!” Amaranth called after her.

“What’s tomorrow night?” I asked.

“The next circle meeting,” Amaranth said. “You’ll be okay on your own, right, baby?”

I nodded, taking this as her polite way of telling me that I wasn’t invited. That was just fine with me, though… I had better things to do than sit around listening to a bunch of new-age scientific nonsense.

Okay, I didn’t actually have anything to do, but that was still an improvement.

The bingo game was set up in the student union, in the same space where the dance had been held. The game was a fundraiser, with the purchase price of a daubing pen and one or more cards being the cost of admission. It was a little confusing at first: you could buy more than one card but the sign announced the cards were good for the whole evening… then Two explained that you could play multiple cards in a game, with the marks clearing themselves automatically after a bingo was verified.

“Weren’t you listening?” she asked, sounding a little exasperated. “You’re supposed to listen when somebody is talking to you.”

“Sorry,” I said, and she helpfully explained the whole thing again from the beginning.

It was going to be a fun night.

Inside the torture chamber, long tables had been set up with folding chairs facing one end of the room. Hazel and Honey were already there, with their cards arrayed on the table in front of them. There was no sign of Celia. I wasn’t too surprised. She’d talked about coming just to make a point, but otherwise hadn’t seemed too enthused at the idea.

The gnomes had borrowed booster seats from the dining hall. Two led us over towards them, taking a seat beside Hazel and pulling me down into the chair next to her.

Amaranth took the seat one down from me, to my surprise.

“Why aren’t you sitting by me?” I asked.

“You invited Ian,” she reminded me. “You probably should sit next to him.”

“Can I sit on your lap, then?” I asked.

She chewed at her lip while she thought, and I could tell that she was feeling torn about something… and that the answer which eventually came out of her mouth would be no.

“I think that might be one of those things that could be considered rude to your date?” she said, the uncertainty in her voice making it a question. “But if he’ll let you sit on his lap, I’ll sit next to you guys,” she added hopefully.

“Okay,” I said, though I wasn’t at all sure Ian would go for that.

He didn’t. In fact, he gave me a look like I was crazy when I suggested it.

“Why not?” I asked him, whining only ever so slightly, as he slid into the seat next to me.

“We’re in public,” he said.

My first impulse was to ask what that had to do with anything… but my second was to realize that was exactly how I would have reacted to the suggestion that I should sit on a boy’s lap, just a short time ago. That was a little bit of a revelation to me. When I’d first arrived at MU, I’d been in danger of freaking out any time I thought anybody was watching me do anything in public. Now I could climb into Amaranth’s lap without a second thought about who could see me or what they would think.

Though, if I did start dwelling on what people thought, I probably could get a halfway decent freak out going.

“Oh,” I said, a little bit late.

“Um… do you want me to get you something to drink?” Ian asked. There was a concessions stand set up at the edge of the room, selling baked goods and cans of soda.

“Um, okay,” I said. “Strawberry, if they’ve got it.”

I had slightly more recent experience with the world of beverages than I did with food. Liquids had always been easier to keep down than solids.

“What if they don’t?” he asked.

“Anything sweet,” I said.

He returned shortly with a can of red cream soda for me and cola for himself. At my other side, Two had just finished her breathless recitation of the Hallowed Rules and History to Hazel.

“My mum took me to a human-style bingo hall once,” Hazel said. “Of course, we do things a bit differently back in the shire. Our bingo cards have got all the numbers in three long lines, and you’re out to fill up one line all the way across. We’ve got proper callers, too, who don’t just look at the ball and read it off… no, they put a bit of polish on it.”

“They polish the balls?” Two asked. Beside me, Ian spit and sprayed his drink all over his cards. I gave him a dirty look. It wasn’t that funny. She didn’t know any better.

“What I mean to say is, if they pull out the number fifty-five, they don’t just say, ‘fifty-five’,” Hazel said, intoning the number in the unnaturally deep, slow voice of the very small imitating the very large. “They’ll say something clever, like ‘Saints alive, we’ve got all fives!’… or even just ‘snakes alive!’, because, you see, the fives look a bit like snakes.”

“They do?” Two asked.

“Or else they’ll just do clever rhymes,” Hazel said. “Like ‘number one, just begun,’ or ‘thirty-four, dirty wh…’… well, you get the idea, right?”

“No,” Two said, shaking her head. “I do not.”

“Right, then,” Hazel said. “You know how the number two kind of looks like a duck on the water?”

Two shook her head again. I was kind of with her on that. I mean, now that Hazel pointed it out I could kind of see it, but I’d never once found myself looking at the numeral 2 and saying, “Hey, that looks like a duck.”

“Well, just trust me that it does… so if it’s twenty-two, they call it ‘two little duckies’ and all the players go ‘Quack quack’,” Hazel said.

“What if you don’t say ‘quack quack’?” Two asked.

“Well, then, everybody knows you’re new, don’t they?” Hazel said.

“Oh,” Two said. She sat in thought for a few moments, then said, “I need clarification.”

“What about, love?” Hazel prompted.

“Is it a rule?”

“Is what a rule?” Hazel asked.

“That when the caller says ‘two little duckies’ you have to say ‘quack quack’?” Two clarified.

“Well, no, it’s not exactly a rule,” Hazel said. “It’s just the way we do it, is all. Because it’s fun, you see?”

“Oh,” Two said doubtfully. “Okay.”

I hid my smile behind my hand. Their friendship was a very weird pairing, but it seemed to be good for her.

The actual game turned out to be… well, not exactly fun, but somewhat enjoyable. Surprisingly meditative. There was a sort of rhythm to it, or at least there was after the guy doing the calling got the hang of it. I was playing on three cards, and it was pretty easy for me to line them up and then go down the designated column to see if I had each number.

Actually, it wasn’t long before I’d find myself thinking, “Oh, N-39… I just saw that on the third card!” but I still went down the columns, anyway. Partly it was to make sure I didn’t miss anything, but it was mostly just because I’d settled into a method and was sticking with it. I guess I’m not so different from Two in that regard.

I had to giggle when I heard Two softly say “Quack quack,” following the announcement of I-22. She was evidently having a good time. She finished checking her cards in record time, but never got impatient waiting for the next number to be called… she was doing something, so it was okay.

Ian was not having quite as good a time.

“This is so pointless,” he groused during the short break while the judges verified a bingo. “They might as well just pick a name out of a hat and say, ‘Okay, you won!’ and let everybody go home.”

“You don’t have to be here,” I pointed out.

“You asked me here. I want to be here,” he said. “It’s just… there isn’t even any skill involved.”

“Oh? You know, you’re missing numbers,” I said, looking at his five cards. “B-3 was called… and I-18, too. You have that one twice. Were you even trying?”

“I was,” he said. “But it’s so boring… and I wouldn’t have won even with those spaces, so what’s your point?”

“That there is skill involved,” I said. “You have to listen.”

“That isn’t a skill,” Ian said.

“Maybe not for you,” I said.

“Like you would know,” he said. “We don’t exactly have long, meaningful conversations, you know?”

“I’ve personally always felt that sex is the most meaningful form of discourse,” Amaranth said in a light, conversational tone. “Of course, with oral sex, it’s even more like a conversation.”

“Uh, right,” Ian said, mortification blossoming on his face. I was right there with him.

“Look,” I said, eager to get the conversation back to a safer topic. I figured that bingo, for all its faults, was about as safe as you could get. “I wanted you to be here, and you only came to be with me… so why don’t we do this together?”

“What do you mean?” Ian asked.

I took his cards and mine and arranged them in two rows of four, then pulled my chair closer to his.

“We’ll play together,” I said. I pointed. “You do that half and I’ll do this one. It’ll be more fun.”

“How?” he asked skeptically.

“Because it will,” I said.

In the end it was, if only because I kept consistently finishing my half while he was still hunting his way through his, and after I started on his half enough times he just gave up and let me do the whole spread.

Of course, this meant I kept scooting in closer next to him, and finally ended up with his dick pressing against the seat of my jeans while I methodically checked the numbers on the cards, which I’d re-arranged from two rows to two columns for better efficiency.

Yeah, sitting on a boy’s lap was a bit different than sitting on a girl’s.

By the time the last number was called, Two and Hazel had consumed about a dozen frosted cupcakes between them, and Two had scored a total of two bingos with the twenty cards she efficiently checked and marked. Her efforts netted her a gift card for free movie rentals, and a teddy bear that she declared, after a careful examination, was named Hand Wash.

At the end of the evening, I snagged a copy of the CSC’s activity calendar. Whether I won the election or not, I was going to make sure Harlowe Hall was informed of any upcoming events they might put on.

Oh, and Ian and I didn’t get any bingos.

He did get a prize afterwards, though.

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5 Responses to “107: Bingo”

  1. pedestrian says:

    I assumed Ian cherished his consolation prize from Our Mack?

    Current score: 2
  2. pedestrian says:

    damnit! I missed doing the joke; Mack polishing Ian’s trophy.

    Current score: 2
  3. Erm says:

    Huh, the neck seems too long for a duck. 2 looks more like a swan, I think.

    Current score: 4
  4. Erm says:

    Hand Wash

    Can you believe that it took me until now to realize that she got that off the washing instruction label?

    Current score: 3
  5. Hoopla says:

    Seriously, I have completely fallen in love with Two. She is amazing! Bravo and a pat on the back to her writer. Such a genuinely intelligent, kind, and earnest soul plagued with inhuman frustrations captured beautifully so that we non-golems can understand and sympathize with her. Once again, BRAVISSIMO!

    Current score: 6