Some couples meet at bars or through friends at parties or in college classes or through on-line dating sites.
I met my hubby at Bingo!
Yep – – – Bingo.
Bingo has been called… hold your cards…. We have a winner! (Anyone who has ever attended Bingo has heard the “Bingo Caller” state this phrase.)
On Friday, I shared that hubby and I are celebrating our 34th anniversary this weekend. This is the card I made for him, and I thought I would share the story of how we met.
As many of you know, my Grandma was a very special person in my life. I lived with her for a while when I was a young girl, I spent long summer vacations at her house growing up, and even as a teenager and old enough to drive, I would visit her and sleep over just to spend time with one of my favorite people on the entire planet.
So one summer evening, 16-year old Jodi went to visit Grandma.
Grandma had a very dear friend and neighbor named Audrey, who we would often visit together. Sometimes we played cards at her kitchen table and nibbled on snacks. Other times we sat on her back porch and told stories and jokes while watching fireflies and listening to “oldies” music.
Audrey was a mom and a grandma who had developed Multiple Sclerosis and was wheel-chair bound, but she always had a bright smile and a cheerful disposition. She had a family who cherished her, and she was such a good friend to Grandma. Audrey’s husband treated her like a princess – taking over many of the chores Audrey once did, helping her bathe and get dressed, making sure her hair was done just right and assuring she was powdered and perfumed and sparkling with jewelry.
On a weekly basis, Audrey’s husband would lift Audrey into the seat of the family car, load the wheelchair in the trunk, and then pick up Grandma (who never learned to drive), and take the ladies grocery shopping and out to eat at the local diner and run any other weekly errands that needed done. Sometimes it was Grandma’s only trip out of the house for the week since she was widowed, and Grandpap, her “chauffeur” was gone.
So this particular summer evening, the ladies wanted to go to Bingo. 16-year old Jodi was talked into driving them and playing along, as Audrey’s husband had no interest in playing this “silly” game.
Bingo was held weekly at the local firehall to raise money for the volunteer organization to buy trucks and equipment and pay the bills needed to support the firehouse. Marty (pre-hubby) was a 20-year old volunteer fireman working the bingo that evening.
Now not many 16 year old girls attended bingo. Average age was closer to 61. So when 16-year old Jodi showed up struggling to lift a wheelchair out of the trunk of her lime green Chevy Vega, and Marty was on parking lot duty, well……. fate was about to take a twist….
Seeing the struggling young girl, Marty came to the rescue and lifted the chair and Audrey into the seat and wheeled her into the firehall like a knight in shining armor. Grandma smiled, and little did I know……………..
Bingo was played.
Rows and rows of cardboard cards were covered with shiny copper pennies or red plastic markers in a room filled with smoke and overflowing ashtrays and the smell of sauerkraut and hot dogs tantalizing the taste buds.
None of us won, but we had fun. It’s kind of hard to win playing only one card when the “pros” kept shushing us so they could hear the caller and keep track of the 16 cards spread out in front of them.
When it was time to go, Sir Marty, with his shining smile and twinkling eyes as armor, swooped over to us ready to push the wheelchair out through the gravel parking lot, making even more points with Grandma and Audrey.
Once the wheelchair was loaded and Audrey safely placed in her seat, Grandma decided it was time to take action.
“You are a very nice young man,” she told Marty. “Why don’t you ask my granddaughter out on a date?”
APPALLED and mouth hanging open in horror, I smacked my Grandma with the back of my hand on her arm. (So sorry Grandma – it was a gut reaction!) Marty laughed….. nervously…… and used a line he later told me he had been waiting to use on just the right young lady.
“I’ll make you a deal,” he said without a blink or drip of sweat.
“Come back to bingo next week, and if you don’t win, I’ll take you out to dinner,” he swooned with those dreamy blue 20-year old grown-up man eyes looking right into mine.
“We’ll see,” or something like that, was all 16-year old Jodi could stammer in her best effort to be coy.
“By the way,” he continued, “Don’t you work at Murphy’s Mart?”
WHAT???!!! How did he know this???
You see…. Future hubby had already “noticed” me in the world!
Turns out 20-year old Marty used to work at Murphy’s Mart himself, before he became a professional electrician, so he often stopped in to shop and visit old friends. Apparently, he had spotted me there and remembered.
I stammered something unintelligibly stupid I’m certain, and we drove off.
A few days later, as I was straightening shoes in the Murphy’s Mart shoe department where I worked part-time after school, I spy Sir Marty in the distrance wandering my way.
YIKES! I hid! I went back into the stockroom and only peaked out until he was gone. (Okay – remember – I was only 16!)
The next week, Grandma and Audrey showed up for Bingo again, but to Marty’s disappointment – no Jodi…. (I actually did have to work that evening, and the ladies talked someone else into taking them.)
But then, when the time came for the Winner-takes-All Jackpot Bingo – the last game of the evening, a young girl showed up – swiftly sweeping into the room and sitting in an empty seat that just happened to be available next to Grandma in the crowded room. Grandma’s card just happened to be pushed in front of Jodi since she had to excuse herself to the ladies’ room- just in time for Jodi to play one card for one game – and lose………
Grandma came back and called Marty over.
“She didn’t win,” Grandma declared in a challenging voice…..
The following week was a first date.
Three years later was a wedding….
with a reception in the very same firehall where bingo was held and the young loves met.
And 37 years later, I believe Grandma’s spirit is still smiling…
Bingo has been called. And I hit the Jackpot!
Cheers & Hugs,