By Deana Nall
Published May 11, 2005
Usually, I’m a loving wife and mother whose schedule revolves around taking care of my family. Unless it’s the second Tuesday of the month, then my husband and kids can eat Spaghetti-Os off the kitchen floor for all I care. I’m playing Bunco.
A few people — all men — have asked me, “What is Bunco?”
Well, I’ll tell you. Bunco looks like a dice game. We try to roll sixes, and when six comes up on all three dice, that’s a Bunco. You have to watch it, though, because other players can grab your Bunco away. This can get ugly. If your wife comes home with a little skin missing, this is why.
But Bunco isn’t about the dice. In reality, Bunco is the heart of Baytown’s mommy culture. It’s a chance for moms to do three things we don’t get to do very often: 1) Leave the house with the family still in it, 2) eat food we didn’t cook, and 3) talk at length with other grown-ups.
I’m a seasoned Bunco-ite, having played with the same group for the entire five years we’ve lived here. Before that, I played for a couple of years in another town. In that Bunco group, we played for prizes.
Here in Baytown, we cut to the chase. We play for money.
I was a bit hesitant to play for money at first. I’m a minister’s wife who comes from a long line of ministers’ wives. In fact, I can’t seem to get away from ministers. I wouldn’t be surprised if my cat got ordained one of these days.
Anyway, “playing for money” is one of those things some people think women married to ministers shouldn’t do, like smoking, getting tattoos, or using rough language, such as “That bites,” or “I voted for Kerry!” My views changed, though, the first time I played Bunco. I won 20 bucks. That would clear up anyone’s moral dilemma. I’ve never looked back.
Another great thing about Bunco is that it brings together women from different walks of life. My group has Catholics, Baptists, teachers, a soccer coach, a nurse, stay-at-home moms and work-from-home moms. We don’t see much of each other outside of Bunco, and it’s fun to meet up every month to find out what’s been going on in everyone’s lives. We’ve had births, new houses, promotions and college graduations.
We’ve endured a lot together, too. Just in the last year, our group has gone through a divorce and the serious illness of a child. And last July, we lost one of our members to cancer. We aren’t just about rolling dice. We’re about helping each other get through the times in which real life can become a little too real.
Oh — and we’re also about food. We all take turns cooking for Bunco night. You know how some women politely turn down dessert, saying, “Oh, none for me, thanks.” You won’t find those women at Bunco. It’s our night off and, by golly, we’re going to live it up. Cheesecake? Chocolate mousse? Twinkies? We don’t care. Just bring it on.
Well, I hope I’ve helped clear up some of the mystery of Bunco. The best piece of advice I can give a Bunco husband is that on Bunco night, stay out of your wife’s way. She’s got somewhere to go.
Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.