Friday, July 6, 2012

Trouble on the Bubble at the Carp Drive-In Bingo

With our car bursting with snack-filled Tupperware and an assortment of bingo daubers in all the primary colours, BFF Sean and I rocketed down the highway last night to attend the much anticipated season opener of the Carp Drive-in Bingo.  

The 4th of July had been etched in my brain, and scrawled in my day-timer ever since our first visit last year and I'd been looking forward to tonight ever since.  Lucky for us that Sean had the night off.

Bingo-wise, Sean and I had a lot of catching up to do.  Last year was our first time at the Carp Bingo and 2012 marks its 56th year.  I calculated that we had missed about 108 games since it's inception.  That's a lot of fun, a lot of pie and incalculable bingo winnings down the drain.  Clearly we needed to re-evaluate our priorities.
This was the only cloud in the sky

As luck would have it, Wednesday was a perfect evening for playing bingo and sitting out of doors, under the stars. Even at 9:00 the thermometer read a balmy 25 degrees and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  Well, maybe just one.  Since there was a constant, light breeze, any lurking mosquitoes blew away, leaving us free to concentrate on our daubing, snacking, and chatting with our fellow players. 
For the uninitiated, here's how the Carp Drive-in Bingo works:  when you arrive at the Carp fairgrounds you park wherever you want or you can park, leave your car, and play at the long table that's set up directly in front of the callers. This is where Sean and I sit to play and also be closer to the pie in the canteen.  Last year we had arrived late and the pie had sold out. This year we knew better.

After buying our bingo cards, you can buy dinner at the BBQ that starts at 6:00 or you can lay out a blanket and enjoy your own picnic.  On this beautiful evening there were many families who were doing just that.

The game starts at 8:00.  If you decide to sit in your car to play bingo, you tune your car radio to FM 91.9 and you'll hear the caller call out numbers over the radio.  You daub your card and if you're lucky enough to have a bingo, you honk your horn, flash your headlights, scream and yell like a lunatic and one of a team of volunteers dashes to your car to verify your numbers and hand you a mitt full of cash. 
Disturbing news and grammar
Unfortunately, all was not tickity-boo for the Carp Drive-in Bingo this year.  
Sean's two servings of fruit
Last week, the AGCO, Ontario's Alcohol and Gaming Commission, watchdog for all things gambling, let it be known that anyone under 18 years of age would no longer be permitted to play bingo. Seems that helping your dear old grandma or your aged Auntie to find numbers on her bingo card after the sun goes down would lead these helpful and innocent youngsters down an inescapable vortex of addiction, poverty, and shame. 
Warning signs were posted here and there on the fairgrounds and watchful eyes were on the lookout for children holding daubers and having fun. 
City of Ottawa elected Counsellor, Eli El Chantiry made a guest appearance and called the numbers for one game.  Afterwards, he clarified for the crowd that in fact, those under 18 were allowed to daub bingo cards, they just weren't allowed to buy the cards nor claim the prize money. 
Our congenial callers
After Mr El Chantiry left, the caller calmed everyone's frayed nerves with a comforting announcement: "we apologise for having corrupted your kids for the past 56 years."  Apology accepted.

The VNP table (Very Near the Pie)
Near the end of the evening, in between games, there was an announcement:  "we're giving away a free piece of pie at the canteen for the person who travelled the farthest to come to tonight's bingo!"  Auntie jumped from her seat.  No one would have come as far as Auntie came.  That piece of pie was mine!  

I walked quickly to the front with my Monaco Carte de Sejour or Resident's Permit, gripped in my paw.  I lifted it up, smiled, and showed it to the pie lady at the canteen.  Sure enough, I had travelled the farthest and I won a piece of Lemon Meringue pie for Sean.  Lemon meringue pie was his favourite after pumpkin pie. 

The runner up was a nice young man who had travelled from Rimouski, Quebec.  Wait a minute, he looked under 18.  Is he allowed to win pie? I guess he was.  The corruptible young man from Rimouski walked off with a big slice of butterscotch pie.
Come with me human.  I want some pie!

Aside from the thrill of a possible bingo win and being surrounded by corruptible youth, it's a lovely way to spend a summer evening and we can hardly wait until next time!