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Stauchy Blog » Blog Archive » Bingo! - Dec. 2 (JRS)

Bingo! - Dec. 2 (JRS)

James Brown Bingo has been a tradition at the South Pole for 5 years.  James is our executive chef at the Pole, and looks nothing like what you’re thinking (well, at least what you were thinking before you saw the picture).  After much anticipation, Bingo Time was upon us.

Lynette and I had sat next to James on our flight from Denver to LAX.  He was a very mellow guy and we talked about his job as the head chef.  Down here, moral is a very important issue, with people working and living together in such tight quarters with nowhere to go.  One of the ways to help moral that you can control is to have good food.  We talked about how important this was and about the fact that we had heard that the food was always excellent at the South Pole.  At any rate, our next significant encounter with James Brown was one night in McMurdo when all the Polies got together (Hut 10 in Mactown).  Mid-way through the night, he was playing basketball with tin foil balls and a trash can.  Whenever he made a shot he would dance around room screaming “aaawwww yeeeeaaaahhh!!”  He was a maniac… quite the contrast from the guy we had met on the plane.  James Brown is known for many of his quotes, among which are, “Do it (said in a deep, creepy voice)” and “You’re all up in my grill”.  But James Brown is most known among Polies as the Bingo Caller — “O… sixty….. NINE!!!”

This evening, after a typical Saturday, people started to gather in the galley.  The first thing I noticed was that the galley was packed.  It was much fuller for Bingo than it had been for dinner.  The second thing I noticed was James’ face.  Over one eye, he had a black diamond painted around his eye.  Over the other he had a red lightning bolt.  WTFO?  I asked him about it the next day and he didn’t really have an explanation.  Apparently Katie Contos, from cargo and also his helper for the night, had just started painting and that’s what she came up with.


I find it difficult to describe why it is that Bingo night is such a celebrated event, but we really had a great time.  It’s just something about the energy in the room (the amount of alcohol consumed helps with that part), the way he calls the numbers (very drawn out and with a voice that he’s famous for), people yelling out the numbers that they need, and his classic responses.  There were two highlights of the night.  The first was when someone had been making obnoxious comments all night and was being a general horse’s ass.  He made one last comment to which James responded quickly and harshly, “Shut the fuck up!!!”  Everyone cheered and whistled.  It was awesome! There were several games played, with the various winners getting cold-weather gear and gift certificates to restaurants in CHC.  The winner of the final game, blackout, got all the pot of money that had been collected at the beginning of the night (we each chipped in $1 per card at the beginning of the night).  I think the pot was somewhere around $215.  Not too shabby.  I never really came close to winning, but on one of the games, Lynette was one number away for Bingo for about the last 15 calls on one of the games.  “Friggin’ B-4!!”  This lead to the other highlight of the evening.  In classic fashion, Lynette was sober and a top yeller for bingo.  When the call, “B-4”, came in the next game, she yelled, “Oh sure, now a B-4 – I needed that last game!!!!”  The crowd was pretty rowdy and there was a mix of laughter and boos.  A small chant for the galley whiner bell began.  James charged into the kitchen and rang the bell generally reserved for people whining about dinner.  The crowd loved it, especially Lynette!

After Bingo, quite a few people stayed in the galley.  Some playing games, others just sitting around chatting, and some continuing on their drinking binge.  Music was turned on, and at one point, the inevitable happened.  A guy, who I don’t really know, jumped up on a table and started dancing.  To make things a bit more interesting, Leah, a dining room attendant, jumped up on another table across the galley, and the dance-off was on!  There was a short display of dirty-ish dancing by both.  The dude is determined to win the contest, so he strips off his shirt.  Leah wasn’t quite willing to match this effort, and understandably so given the basic difference between boys and girls!  Then, to seal the deal, the dude turns around and starts undoing his belt, working his way to a full moon of crowd.  It was a train-wreck that no one could look away from.  To top things off, he opened up a bottle of beer and started pouring it on himself, then started molesting the beer bottle in ways that I’ll spare people from describing.  Mmmmm, hmmmmm.  Good times at the South Pole.  After the dance-off, a music war started, and eventually the party people headed down to the bar where things went downhill fast, as is typical in the bar.

But, as far as bingo went, a good time was had by all, and we eagerly await the next Bingo night.




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