Desert bingo

by Lorin Michel Saturday, May 6, 2017 10:14 PM

In 1530, Italy, which had evidently broken into several factions, came back together. In order to help build support for initiatives, the Italian government created something that was, essentially, a lottery. Called Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia, the name meant the Clearance of the Lot of Italy. It involved the drawing of five numbers from a box. By 1778, the game had reached into France and was played primarily by wealthy Frenchman. By 1880, the game reached Germany and was used as a teaching tool to help students learn math, history and even spelling. In 1929, the game came to North America and was known as Beano. Players would have a sheet of paper with numbers arranged in a square. They would place small beans on the numbers as they were called with the object being to create a straight row in any single direction.

Edwin Lowe changed the name to “Bingo” that same year and turned to a mathematics professor named Carl Leffler with a request: Increase the possible number of card combinations to 6000.

I would imagine everyone of a certain age has played Bingo at one point or another. Maybe in kindergarten; maybe at some sort of church function. If you haven’t played it, you’ve probably seen it on television or in a movie. It’s usually a scene involving elderly men and women. They all sit around with a white card on the table in front of them. Someone up front picks a random number out of some sort of container, calls it out and eventually whoever gets a straight line yells out “Bingo!” Everyone gets jello and the winner gets a dollop of whipped cream on top. Woo hoo.

This morning, Justin announced that we should play Desert Bingo. 

It all started on our morning walk. Justin went with me for the first time since he’s been home. Usually on Saturday mornings, I walk alone and was planning to do so today. Kevin was already working outside in the dirt and rocks. I was glad to have the company. 

It was about 7 am, the sun was already high in the sky, a nice breeze was blowing. It would get windy later on but while we were walking, it remained pleasant. We walked to the gate. Along the way, we heard deer in the hills above. There was a falcon, sitting on the wall. I’m pretty sure I heard a snake slither in the grass. 

On our way back from the gate, we were talking. We rounded a curve, right before descending into what we call the hollow. I noticed something big and dark and thought that it was a rock. I wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. Then I noticed that there was another dark rock in the middle of the road. Justin was chatting away, swatting at bugs. Riley was trotting along paying no attention. 

“Wait,” I said. “Stop.” Everyone stopped. I gestured ahead. “Javalina.”

A herd of about seven crossed the road and went up into the hill. We continued on. A truck was coming toward us, on our side of the road. I mentioned it might be nice if he got on his own side as Justin chuckled. Eventually, the truck went to his own side. He slowed down as he got closer and rolled his window down. He was a pool guy. 

“Gila monster in the road just up there,” he said, motioning behind. We thanked him and kept going. Sure enough, there was a big Gila monster not too far from where we were. Riley was fascinated. It took me a while to pull him away. But eventually, we were on our way again. 

Justin started to laugh.

“It’s like a game of desert bingo,” he said. “All we need is a tortoise and we win.”

Maybe tomorrow.

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