Piece of Mind: He takes the prize for hanging in at fundraiser

Sizing up the competition, it occurs to me that one possible way to increase my chances of taking home a prize is to buy more bingo cards.

I flag down Sharlyn French. She's been roaming the aisles at the fundraiser for the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Assn., which puts on this “Bingo BBQ” every year.

The basket she's lugging about the Thursday Club is heavy with game cards. We make a quick deal. For five bucks, I secure five extra bingo cards to monitor alongside the two we received when we walked in the door.

If only my husband weren't so reluctant a player. He makes it clear he'd rather be at home on this Saturday night, nodding off on the couch. And he'd prefer I not buy extra bingo cards. He doesn't say as much, but a woman knows these things about her man.

She also knows when to overrule him. Our city's Rose Parade float is something worthy of whatever support we can manage to eke out, right?

Gil didn't specifically tell me not to spend any money on raffle tickets, but he has a way of wincing when he sees me engaged in the practice that lessens the thrill.

Nonetheless, I'm on a mission. I send him to the clubhouse patio to buy us beverages from the bar set up there, track his moves to make sure he doesn't see what I'm up to, then pounce on one of the volunteers selling raffle tickets. She's all too happy to sell me 18 tickets.

By the time Gil returns to the table with our drinks, I have our bingo cards lined up and raffle tickets piled high.

Oh, and the door prize tickets we received when we arrived are there too, just waiting for their numbers to be called. Gil has a pained looked in his eyes, but still says nothing.

He perks up when dinner is called, and loads his plate at the buffet table that's laden with barbecued goodness.

The meal may have redeemed me for having dragged him out of the comfort of home, I think to myself. But no sooner is his plate empty than I see him checking his watch. How much longer does he have to stick it out?

Finally, the main event gets underway. In between games, raffle and door prizes are awarded, none of them to us. About 90 minutes later, one of our lucky seven cards hits bingo.

My partner is nearly oblivious to our win. His eyelids appear to be heavy. Other people start to leave the building. Through his half-closed eyes he watches them, clearly wishing he was in their shoes. I don't budge until the last game is called, the last prize awarded. We finally leave the building with our win, a huge gift basket filled with goodies. Gil clearly is glad to be on his way home. Still almost mute, he has the air of a saint for having been my escort.

On Sunday, our daughter telephones me. Gil asks to speak to her, so I hand him the phone. One would never guess from his enthusiastic tale of our miraculous win and tasty dinner that this was the same man who had accompanied me the night before.

He waxes on, talking about the nice people who are active in the association. He magnanimously offers to divvy up gift cards found in our winning basket with her.

I listen to his side of the conversation and decide it's actually my sweet husband who takes the prize — and I'm not talking bingo here.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor. Email her at carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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