It was Canasta in Jakarta. Bunco in KL. Book group in Libya and again in Canada. In Houston we painted ceramics while drinking wine. They were all excuses for women to gather and form friendships over a wine and a laugh.

I was so rude when Bunco was suggested, it seemed so Stepford wives, so uncool. I went along unwillingly. I sat at a table with strangers, we made introductions, talked of past lives in past countries.

“You can score” said the American woman at our table trying to find a new home for the paper and pencil in front of her.

“No, I’m terrible with numbers” replied the woman in the Sari as she pushed it back towards her.

“I thought you just said you were an Accountant?” She’d mentioned it in her introduction.

“I didn’t say I was a good one” she winked back.

The table errupted in laughter, part nerves, part hysterics.

It wasn’t about the bunco, the bunco was the mortor that slipped in between the bricks of the friendships that were built. In the beginning it filled the awkward silences, by the end it interrupted a good conversation.

In Houston I turned up my nose to the idea of women sitting around painting ceramics. “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body” I protested. That was before I polished off three glasses of wine while enthusiastically painting a cow print on my new butter dish. I love that butter dish.

In Qatar it’s bingo.

“You’re not really going to bingo?” that’s when you know you’re really uncool – when even your mother can’t believe that you’re off to bingo on a Monday night.

It was round two. As we stood in a girlfriend’s lounge room, bingo cards in hand and all focussed on our numbers – I began to get the giggles at the absurdity. “Sit down when your number’s called – last one standing is the winner”. Am I really doing this? It all felt so peculiar. And then the giggles began to flow, as did the wine.

Years ago my mother and I went to bingo for a fundraiser. I was home from boarding school, young and with words constantly spilling out of my mouth. When they called “69 – anyway round” I giggled and said a little too loudly to my mother “that’s a bit rude!”

She kept a straight face amongst our table of women who were all well into their sixties and calmly pointed out “No, no it’s not.”

Oopsy daisy. No it’s not.

This past week at bingo as the night went on and the wine disappeared, I recounted my story. A Scottish woman gave me a wink and called “69 – dinner for two with a terrible view”.

The room erupted with giggles.


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