Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bingo is for old people

The latest adventures of Shady Oaks Lifestyle Village haven't quite been as enjoyable as the Woofer incident. Lately I've had to manage the other two dining rooms - including the Royale, whose residents are, predictably, the more exclusive set. They do, honestly, seem to believe they're in an exclusive restaurant, and many of them have the appropriate disdain for small mistakes in their meal (no, *SHE* asked for fewer carrots, *I* asked for less beans!) or two-minute delays in receiving their coffee. Raucous conversation is certainly never allowed, much less loud laughter.

Yesterday began like all the others. I was running a few minutes late though, and as most of the Royale residents were beginning dessert, one lady rose and began removing a tablecloth, carefully placing the salt shakers on the sideboard and folding the tablecloth neatly. At first I thought she was trying to be "helpful" until another resident began placing huge numbered bingo cards around the table.

One of those still-eating was John. A bit of background info on John. John is essentially a pleasant man. He remarks on the nice weather each morning that I deliver his breakfast tray. I'm told that he can be somewhat abrupt and rude at times. The staff and other residents tend to just change the subject and ignore the outbursts. Many of them here are old and losing a few marbles. Some are just a bit wacky while still young. He's the former. I estimate him to be about 85.

As it was being set up, the conversation at the other tables shifted to how wonderful bingo is, and how one of them had played it at the church hall. Apparently several of them could identify, because it necessitated a discourse on the fact that there was a lot of bingo going on at a lot of halls, that it was often organised by the churches, and that it was wonderful.

From out of nowhere, John stood up and yelled at the top of his voice, "I HATE CHRISTIANS! I CAN'T STAND BLOODY CHRISTIANS! I HATE THEM!"

The place fell so silent you could have heard a pin drop. (Later, I realised they were silent not because of the delicate subject matter, but because someone had dared raise their voice.)

A few moments later the bingo-preparations resumed and the chatter cautiously began again, when John made another huge announcement. "I HATE BINGO! BINGO IS FOR OLD PEOPLE!"

Silently, from 6 feet away from him, Penelope had been intently concentrating on her dessert bowl. She slowly raised her head and turned to face him, staring, yet said nothing.

At this point I was faced with a major dilemma. A resident was holding out a stack of plates for me to take and I was facing the wrong direction to escape and hide my mirth. I did my best not to laugh, but as I looked over at Penelope, I lost it. I can only imagine she was thinking what I was thinking, namely, just how young did John think he was?

Penelope has all her marbles and all her hearing, and is 101.

(It would have been a good ending right there, but the rest is mildly amusing when I think back.)

John didn't seem to like the fact that I was laughing in the still of the room, and he just stared at me. So I loudly announced, "I play Bingo!!!!!!!!!" (It's the truth. It's also a weekly catch-up with my mother, since our local club has child-minding.)

Every head in the room swivelled to look at me. Did they secretly agree with John? And was this shock I was seeing? He asked me, "Well, are you old?"

I should mention here that I remember flared trousers and the Bee Gees, yet I'm so young-looking that I still get asked for identification when buying beer. I didn't get a chance to figure out whether he was serious (and off his tree that day) or just making a joke, but I simply answered that on bingo days I must be, and the rest of the room managed to laugh.

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