BINGO has long been a part of my life. When I was about 9 or 10 my mom would allow me to accompany her on Monday nights to the church hall to play. I was only allowed to go during the summer months because the games didn’t finish up until close to 11pm and that would have been too late to stay out on a school night. I shared her tin can of pennies which we used as markers, but I had my own fluorescent pink dauber (that’s BINGO talk for ink markers) for the “specials”. Like everyone else my mom and I would line up our good luck charms (rabbit’s feet, trolls, etc) and hope for the best! As a “tween” my girlfriends and I would ditch our mom’s once we got to the hall, and position ourselves at our own table in back. Babysitting money paid for donuts, chips, soda, and of course our BINGO cards. We would spend the evening talking about cute boys, snobby girls, and the music of the Jackson 5 and Bobby Sherman. Sometimes we’d even pay attention to the game. Fast forward to my son’s years in elementary school. BINGO was the school’s most profitable fund raiser and once again I found myself at the church hall; only this time I was selling the BINGO cards, donuts and calling the numbers. When my son moved on to high school my BINGO nights came to an abrupt halt….until that one rainy day aboard a cruise ship. With nothing else going on I made my way to the show lounge. I remember being a bit wary. I knew playing with penny markers was probably not the way it was done, but when I was handed the sheets of games with the fold back tabs I was delighted by the novelty of it! The crowd was mixed: old and young; men, women and children; the experienced BINGO player and the newbie. The staff knew all the BINGO jokes and then some! I learned the BINGO Boogie, a requirement of claiming a prize, but unfortunately had no need to show off my moves. No matter, I was hooked! Now when we cruise BINGO is one of the activities we never miss. Since it’s expensive we play selectively; just “Win a Cruise” BINGO and “Jackpot” BINGO. My son won Jackpot BINGO on our Mediterranean cruise, and even though he had to split it with another player, his share of the prize money was more than a lifetime of my own winnings! Our last cruise brought BINGO to a new level with the use of hand held electronic games. Selling for over $60 for a session, these devices play more than 20 games at a time. They alert players by displaying how many numbers are needed for a BINGO, the actual numbers you’re waiting for, and they jingle and flash when you’re waiting for one more number (you’re cue to stand and get ready to boogie)! Once this gadget is turned on you can just sit back and sip your “drink of the day”. So where’s the fun in that? Well, at least you’re still required to BINGO boogie! Today there just never seems to be enough time to make my way to my hometown BINGO hall, although the games go on without me every Monday night. I’m content to know that I will play again on my next cruise, which is always just around the corner.