You drop your head back to the screen. You are one number away from a full house.\n\nYour breaths get shorter as your hearbeat quickens. This could be the one, and you've got plenty of time for the caller to read your number out. You start playing properly\n\n86\n\nand you hit the numbers as they come up so you can be\n\n32\n\nright on time to get the right number oh god could this be\n\n30\n\nso close come on 31 31 31 31 31 31\n\n49\n\nA voice calls out an affirmative response and a mutter rises from the crowd. You hold out for a false claim but no, no they're right on the money, here's £200, well done winner, we'll be back to the main games after this Party Xtra interval.\n\n[[throw your pen down in disgust|disgust]]\n[[place your pen down gently and pretend you dont care|pretend]]
No that's not how this works. You can't talk to her. Look at yourself. Go on, look at yourself.\n\n[[look at yourself]]\n[[talk to the girl|talk3]]
You say something about needing to pee. Mother smiles and returns to her game.\n\nYou shuffle out of the seat and stretch slightly. You've been sat still too long and you're pretty certain your RSI is flaring up again thanks to that screen. You shake your wrist a couple of times and open and close your hand. It hurts. It really hurts.\n\nYou wander off in search of the bathroom, slowly. You don't even need to go that much but good Lord did you need to move and do something else, and this was the best excuse you could think of.\n\nYou pass a cute girl on your way to the bathroom.\n\nYou carry on.\n\nYou return from the bathroom and the cute girl is still there. She looks up at you.\n\n[[talk to the girl|talk]]\n[[go and sit down|sit]]
You readjust yourself in your seat to look around some more, and catch the glare of your mother. The look says it all. Stop pissing around. There's money at stake here. We need to win something back.\n\n[[return to the game|play]]
You place your pen down gently and shrug nonchalantly at your mother. She sighs an "oh well" and pumps some money into the machine so she can play the interval games.\n\nYou don't want to know how much money she's spending.\n\n[[go for a slash|slash]]\n[[fiddle with your phone|phone]]
You take your phone out of your pocket and start to turn on the 3G, but Mother sighs loudly, so you put it back.\n\n"You never talk to me," she says, eyes fixed on the bright colours, sliding screens as numbers ring out.\n\n[[go for a slash|slash]]
You look back over at the girl. You think about getting back up and walking over and saying \n\n"hi, I'm really nervous about this because I don't think highly of myself, and I'm terrified that my mother is sat there judging me or judging you, and that sucks, but I really just wanted to say hello, and if you want that to be the end of it then that's cool, but if you deem me acceptable enough to engage in conversation with then that's even cooler"\n\nbut instead you bottle it. Because what if she's got a boyfriend already. What if she's not interested in guys. She probably doesn't want to be bothered in a bingo hall anyway. She probably doesn't have the same interests as you, and hates all the music you like, or finds your jokes too dark or offensive. There's a cacophony of reasons to not say anything.\n\nYou stay silent.\n\n[[wait for the next game|wait]]
You are in a bingo hall.\n\nAll bingo halls are the same. They smell of nothing. They are souless, windowless places with no clocks. They are casinos for the daytime. The only difference is that you give them all your money at the start of the evening, and then you sit around for a long time, and then go home empty-handed, unless you happen to have been assigned the right card at the start.\n\nIt is something quite close to hell.\n\nYou are with your mother. She is focused on the game at hand, while you are just jabbing at the screen since you legitimately don't have to play this game anymore, there's a button at the bottom that does all the work for you. You won't win. You know you won't. You never win.\n\n[[gaze around the hall solemnly|gaze]]
Right. Take that all in.\n\nYou're a twenty year old white nerd guy who hates himself. You don't even pass for attractive in a quirky sense. You have eyebrows that make you look permanently pissed off and your eyes are purple and bruised from how little sleep you get.\n\nDo you really think this girl would want to talk to you? That smile was a reflex. Sit down.\n\n[[talk to the girl|talk4]]\n[[go and sit down|sit]]
You raise your head from the screen, still jabbing at the same button after each number is called. You look round at the hall at the other faces, bent over their games, jabbing with marker pens or styluses. You see the same faces every time. Sometimes your mother talks to them. You stare forward mostly. You see no point in engaging with these people. What would you talk about anyway?\n\n"So, bingo, huh."\n\nGreat.\n\nYou twist your body round in the uncomfortable chair and clock some more faces. Same old people. Same old look. Rinse. Repeat.\n\nYou twist the opposite way and look towards the stage where the caller stands. Even he doesn't look happy to be there. Then again, he's only getting paid to read the numbers out correctly.\n\n[[scan the room some more|scan]]\n[[return to the game|play]]
Just as you're about to open your mouth, you catch the eye of your mother from afar. She looks at you quizically, and then waves you over to go and sit down. You briefly glance down at the girl, whose smile is starting to wane. You realise you may have been stood here for too long and now it's just awkward.\n\nYou head back over to your mother.\n\n[[sit]]
You throw your pen to the table and mutter obscenities. Mother says some numbers and you reply with some numbers. She mutters an "oh well" and pumps a few coins into the machine nearby so she can play through the interval.\n\nYou don't want to know how much she's spent so far.\n\n[[go for a slash|slash]]\n[[fiddle with your phone|phone]]
Eyes Down!
I SAID LOOK AT YOURSELF.\n\n[[look at yourself]]
Ric Cowley (@TheRicass)
You wait for the next game, occasionally making chatter with your mother when she decides she's spending far too much money on this stupid game.\n\nShe asks if you've met any nice girls lately. You say no.\n\nShe asks how uni's going. You say it's ok.\n\nShe asks if you're alright. You say you're fine.\n\nShe asks why you're being off with her. You say you're not.\n\nShe returns to her game.\n\nThe next games start. You don't win anything.
You sit down at the table with your mother. She asks if you had a nice time. You mutter something about a girl. She looks over at where you came from and laughs slightly.\n\n"She's far too good for you," she mutters, before pumping more coins into the machine and playing another game.\n\nYou ponder this for a second.\n\n[[go back and talk to the girl|talk6]]\n[[sit and wait for the next game|wait]]
You're joking, right? You really think you're going to talk to this girl? You don't even talk to people over Facebook because you're terrified it'll make you look creepy. Sit down, fool.\n\n[[what? I can talk to whoever I like. talk to the girl|talk2]]\n[[go and sit down|sit]]
You're really not getting this are you.\n\nYou know what? Go ahead, talk to her, see if I care.\n\n[[talk to the girl|talk5]]\n[[go and sit down|sit]]