Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bingo-a-Go-Go









All day I was looking forward to going out last night to Bingo-a-Go-Go in Rehoboth Beach. I haven’t been able to attend these four times a year fund raisers for AIDS because I’ve had to work at the Inn. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise when my friend Paul and Jack called me last week and asked me to join them for a night of dining and fun and festivities. Wouldn’t you know it? Monica from work called me about 1 in the afternoon and asked if I could work her shift for her because her youngest child was sick. I had to turn her down because I had already purchased the tickets for bingo and made dinner arrangements at Casa Dileo with my friend Paul and Jack. I had also invited my friend and neighbor Barbara. She said she couldn’t make dinner but would meet us at the Convention Center.

Four o’clock rolls around. I had arranged to meet Paul and Jack at 5 PM in front of Casa Dileo. I drove into Rehoboth and parked at my friend Ed’s house so I wouldn’t have to fight the traffic from the Convention Center when bingo was over. Walking from my friend Ed’s place to Casa Dileo, I ran into my first problem, construction work being done on Route 1. I couldn’t walk on the side of the road. Dodging traffic I walked to other side of the road. My cell phone rings. It’s Paul. He wants to know where I’m at. I told him I’m dodging traffic trying to walk to the restaurant. I hang up. My cell phone rings again. It’s my neighbor Barbara calling. She said she wasn’t feeling well so she wouldn’t be joining me. Take note, already I’ve received two bad omens for the night.

I meet Jack and Paul in front of the restaurant. As soon as I walk into the restaurant I’m turned off by the smell. It smelled like I was walking into a garage. I didn’t need to change the oil in my car. What was that smell? I didn’t want to ruin the evening since it was Paul’s suggestion we dine at Casa DiLeo so I said nothing. After we were seated and given our menus, I noticed that this was one of those restaurants that had the same items on the menu, doubled in price for dinner. I could get an Eggplant Parmesan dish, “lunch” price $8.95. The “Dinner” price $15.95. Either it was the same entree, with a jacked up price for dinner or it was a lot more food, neither of which was an option I wanted last night. We agreed to order a pizza and share it.

After dinner, we drove down to the Rehoboth Convention Center for the night’s festivities. I’ve been to a couple of gay bingos before. The first time was a lot of fun because it was new. The second time, well, not so much. Last night? It was boring. Basically gay bingo is every straight person's stereotype of a gay guy calling out the numbers interspersed with raunchy gay themed jokes. The word of the night last night was the four letter Anglo-Saxon word for excrement that begins with S. The bingo caller was much amused by ending just about every sentence with that well known four letter word.

Throughout the audience are about a half a dozen drag queens who checked to make sure you have a bingo when you call out “Bingo!” The joke is, if you call “Bingo!” in error, you have to wear a ratty old drag queen wig. That’s funny the first few times when you see it then it becomes old. It was old last night.

The drag queens had bright, colorful, flashy outfits which they changed several time during the evening. If you're into drag, it may have enjoyed seeing the different gowns and dresses on the slim hipped ladies with Adam's Apples. While it wasn't like checking out Princess Diana's new gowns, it was fascinating to see what new dress and wig Mona Lotts would appear. The guys playing the drag queens were a pretty somber bunch. One would expect more humor and levity but it seemed like they were also tired of the format and would rather have been somewhere else.

The event is a worthy one, it raises money for AIDS charities. It is gives the gay community a chance to assemble in one spot and experience fellowship. However, something odd this year, I only saw one person I slightly knew (introduced one through a mutual friend.) We didn’t see anyone else we knew, NO ONE. That was strange. Maybe our friends were on to something. Maybe they also got tired of the format. Maybe I don't have that many gay friends.

It wouldn’t have been a bad night if one of us could have won at least ONE bingo. But, as is always the case, no one I know wins. The last time I won a bingo was back in 1960 at the service club in Ft. Meade, Maryland. I won a Kingston Trio record album (which I think I still have, not because I like the Kingston Trio – I hate folk songs – but because it was proof I actually won something.) Most of the prizes last night were cash but one prize was a “beauty basket.” That was the prize I came closest to winning (like I needed THAT PRIZE.) If I won that prize I would have donated it back to the cause.

One thing that I find interesting and has always puzzled me when a group of gay men and lesbians gather together is how much the cliques stay intact. There is little if no interaction between the people unless they knew them previously. Yet one can go to straight event and strike up a friendship with straight people much easier. I've never been able to put understand this phenomenon about gay people, their tendency to stay in cliques when out in the public. They cling to their small group of friends. I can understand why lesbians are so insular, they don't want to have anything to do with men. They do quite well with their women friends, thank you. It's the men I don't understand. If you start up a conversation with a stranger, right away they think you're coming on to them. There is little understanding just for a friendship without the sexual connection. This attitude of most gay men is something that has baffled me for you and I'll probably go to my grave never understanding it.

All in all, it was good to have an evening with my friends Paul and Jack but I won’t be going back to gay bingo again. Maybe I’m getting too old for this kind of thing. I remember 30 years ago when I was 37 years old. I was standing in a gay bar (the 247 in Philadelphia) when the bartender started to flick the lights on and off, calling “Last call!” I thought to myself at that time “What am I doing here? I would rather be home in bed.” That’s the way I felt last night. I would have been better off in bed. Actually, I wish I would have to work for Monica. At least I wouldn’t still be burping up that pizza I had last night.

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