September 22nd. The marquee pretty much says it all.
"Season Kick-Off & Thank You Party."
I knew the evening was going to be a kick-off party, much like the one I attended before the Summer Film Series. I also knew it was to involve bingo in some way. No, not the dog from the children's song, but the actual game. And when it came to bingo, I was an unqualified amateur of the lowest order.
Several years ago I had my one and only brush with bingo. It was in one of those bingo halls where everyone in attendence is hardcore about the game. You know, with the multicolored dabbing markers and several cards to play at once. Those people were like octopi, magically scanning and dabbing a dozen cards in the two seconds between called numbers. To me, it was an impossible task. I attempted two cards simultaneously that night, and I couldn't keep up. Instead of winning prizes, I was the lucky recipient of a migraine and was a desperate need of a drink. Trust me, it was a total nightmare. Here's hoping tonight's experience fares much better (or least less stressful).
I arrive to a sweet surprise. They're handing out raffle tickets. There's always a comfort in raffles; it assures me that no matter how awful I play bingo, I could still win something cool. Securing my raffle ticket, I step inside and claim my bingo cards. Glancing at them I see the custom touch for tonight's event. Instead of the typical layout (B-1, I-16... what have you), the spaces were filled with phrases and names (B-The Salt Lick, I-Film Series, N-Ira Glass, etc).
Walking into the auditorium, I find the place has a definite Game Show Network kind of vibe. The music playing over the speakers is like a collection of cheesy '70s TV anthems of game shows gone by. I glanced around expecting to see Richard Dawson, but alas, it was not to be. On a personal note, I always thought it would be awesome to party with the Dawson back in his heyday. Something tells me that bro was a drinker of the highest caliber. Despite the absence the "Family Feud" emcee, I embrace my inner-Chuck Barris and find a seat.
As "The Dating Game" theme song was playing (with more cowbell- er, I mean.. flugelhorn!), Ken Stein comes out as our host for the evening. The lovely Brooklyn Barbieri, Associate Director of Marketing & PR, also appeared onstage as a sparkling hostess. She was like our very own Vanna White, only with an personality (apologies to Vanna, but let's be real. She was merely a plastic letter-turner). After laying out some ground rules, the games began. Up for grabs were very nice gifts donated by various businesses who don't hesitate to show their love to The Paramount. As each space was called out, Ken would explain its significance and give a brief lesson or anecdote about the person, place or sponsor. it made for a fun and interesting lesson about The Paramount.
Four games were played, and between each game was a raffle drawing. That gave me pretty good odds of winning something, right?
Wrongo. I didn't even come close. A couple of times, the only space I got to mark off was the center square. Yeah, the free one. Afterwards, my card might as well have looked like this:
Games concluded, everyone then went to the lobby to have beverages and socialize. And, oh my, was I popular that night. During the games, Brooklyn and Ken recognized me and pointed me out to the crowd for my work during the summer series. I graciously waved to the crowd at the time, but after the bingo I was approached by numerous patrons in the lobby. It was great to meet new people and also assign names to familiar faces from the summer. Some were unaware of my blog and expressed interest, while several told me they read it regularly throughout the summer. I gotta admit, it's always nice to meet fans.
Hobnobbing was easy and casual the rest of the night. Ken was giving new patrons a mini-tour of sorts, and provided all of us with updates on the plumbing/digging. It's still a work in progress, and none of my theories have been proven correct... thus far.
Despite striking out on the big money (gift certificates) and fabulous prizes (gift baskets that were, well.. fabulous), it was a fun evening amongst new friends. Leaving the theatre after the festivities, I by no means felt empty-handed. Quite the contrary, I was actually giddy in anticipation of the shows to come this season. If all these people involved are any indication, this is gonna be one hell of a season.
However, I will probably smash any television I find that is playing game show tunes (note to self, stay away from retirement communities). And if I feel the need to try bingo again, I'll just go to Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon here in Austin. I've heard it's the shizzzzz. Literally.