*On September 18, 1990, my mama woke me up for GED program way earlier than usual and I was certainly not happy about it. In fact, I was shocked when she flipped on the light in the trailer because it seemed as if I had just gone to bed a few hours ago.
I don’t remember what time it was exactly, only that it seemed like insane o’clock.
When I glared at her somewhere between angry and frightened, she said, “Look, hun, you gotta git your butt otta bed, ya hear? Mama need some cigs.”
Blinking the sleep out of my eyes and the fog out of my head, I shrugged and hazily mumbled, “Mama! I’m sleepin’! Damn it to all good hell! Why didn’t you buy them cigs at the Piggly Wiggly when you got off work?”
“Don’t you sass me, youngin’!”she muttered, “Now get up and take me to the store, damn it.”
I pulled myself out of bed and slapped on my best daisy dukes and tube top and grabbed the keys to our beatup pink camaro. Even though it was early, I was always pumped to drive mama around. Since she had gotten her 15th DUI, I had been driving a lot more these days. Cruising down the trailer park in the early morn, yo!
But this time was different. We didn’t head down to the Seven Eleven like normal, mama told me to keep going into town. I thought it was strange, but she was in one of her manic states so I didn’t push too hard.
“Where we going, mama?”
“Well, they got a special extravaganza going on at the 24 hour Bingo Bonanza tonight. First place prize is a 50 pack of Marlboro Reds and a visit to the all-you-can-eat flapjack bar.”
We arrived at BB (Bingo Bonanza) and to my horror, it was packed. Seemed everyone this side of the Mississippi had put in their best teeth and headed down to the old Bingo saloon to vie for their chance at 1000 smokes and a visit to flap jack heaven. It was gonna be a long night.
Once we got in, we quickly sat down and mama lit up her last cig she had been saving for hours. “Git otta here with that stick, ya old dummy!” I recognized that gruff old voice immediately as grandma’s. Grandma was never one to miss a sure thing or a flapjack opportunity. She had wheeled herself and her oxygen tank down from the elder home and the tank was right next to mama’s chair. Explosion was certainly imminent.
“Shut up, ya old hag!” Mama and Meema had never seen eye to eye since mama had stolen Meema’s husband, Bobbie Mack oh so many years ago. No, not my grandad, if that’s what you’re thinking, you sicko.
Mama and I found new seats away from Meema so we could keep the peace. We didn’t want to be thrown out again. Once was enough. I’ll never forget Big Berta, the bouncer at Bingo Bonanza, throwin’ mama out by her hair last year. Ripped out her best scrunchy with the hair attached. Mama had to wear a bandage wrapped around her head for weeks! Anyhow, Mama and Berta made up over a bottle of Wild Turkey one night, but things had never been the same between them. There was a lot at stake that night and we didn’t want to rock the boat. We certainly didn’t want to spoil our flap jack dreams.
I was surprised at how many people had come out to the smokes/flapjack bingo that night. Pure dedication, I guess. People really love them some flap jacks, you know? And that’s the thing about gambling. People might think it’s just throwin away your money on dreams, but they just don’t understand. Gamblin’ is all about faith.
Anyway, once the game began, I’d done forgot about the prize and started looking at how many people were squeezed into BB’s that night. I mean, the best thing about Bingo Bonzanza is the sense of community you get once you start playing. People think gamblin is all about money, but they just don’t get it. Gamblin’ is all about community.
A sense of faith and community is just what Madrid needs, isn’t it? Sounds nice right about now, doesn’t it?
Well, mama wasn’t payin no attention to the community, that was for sure! But, she was concentrating on rubbing her special troll doll, Gigi. The raggedy old hair had just about fallin’ out from so many fruitless years of bingo playin’, but mama still had faith in that old troll. “Life is all about believing in something”, she always said. And that night, she believed that them cigs and flapjacks were hers.
And wouldn’t you know, twenty minutes into the first round, mama screamed out, “Sweet baby Jesus! Bingo! I got bingo! Oh, holy hell, I got bingo! ”
I couldn’t believe my ears! Mama had hit the bigtime! When Big Berta came over with that cotton candy pink lipstick smudged all over her good tooth like always and confirmed that mama had legit bingo…
…the crowd exploded.
I saw tears streaming down mama’s face as we jumped and high fived and hugged and then high fived and jumped some more with all of the people around us. Everybody in the Bingo saloon was celebratin! Even Meema was doing wheelies! There were fist pumps and tears and strangers embracing and kids dancing and all kinds of hootin and hollerin. Besides the two Bubbas that almost shot each other because they’re still beefin over something, it was one hell of a celebration!
It was an odd feeling because I had never really put a lot of thought into what my flapjacks meant to me. Hell, I didn’t even really think that much about bingo. But right at that moment, I found myself … well, jubilant. Yes, certainly, “jubilant” describes that night perfectly.
When mama and I sat down and began our 3rd plate of flapjacks, we just sat and smiled at each other. Through the thick smoke engulfing her face as she scarfed down another mouthful, I could recognize a distinct pride in her that I had never seen before.
That type of gambling pride may not live with you on a day to day basis, but when you hit bingo, you feel it. I was so proud of my little old mama for going the distance, for the determination to win those cigs, and most importantly, for sharing her flap jacks with me.
When I think about EuroVegas, I think about my mama stuffing her face with flapjacks and simultaneously sucking down a whole pack of Malboros that night.
So, go head and call me a blind, sentimental optimist, but I’m proud of Madrid for bringing Eurovegas to the city. And even if they don’t add bingo to the slots and the poker tables and all the other “fancy” games, I’ll still be proud. I just hope someone thinks of serving flapjacks as a prize. They’re darn good!
(*This bit of satire is based my last post about the 2020 Olympic Games for those new to the site!)