Bingo Callers have pride in their work. Who knew? I didn't - that is until I met Gérard Leahey, Bingo Caller.
He started this career innocently enough, when called upon in grade school to call the numbers in the bingo based game that is supposed to help kids with math. The teacher, who would usually call the numbers, had a sore throat. Gérard found that he could be charmingly entertaining while calling, without disrupting the flow of the game.
Of course this was long forgotten after high school. He enrolled in an art history in college. While attending he chanced to be asked to help out at a charity fund raiser. The fund raiser, you guessed it, was a bingo and he provided the service of caller. He easily found his pace and it was generally agreed he was the best caller the regulars had ever heard. One octogenarian suggested he work weekends at the usual bingo hall she frequented.
It turns out that good Bingo Callers are a sought after commodity. Your fair sized bingo halls pay a good buck for "talent." That - plus tips - and Gérard stumbled into a job that he thought at first would be merely jingle change. These weekends he would develop his timing, his patter, his clever tagline commentary "clickety-click, sixty-six" and the like. The proprietor asked him to work full time. Art history classes became history.
After several long years Gérard became somewhat of a celebrity - at least in the small town in which he worked. He had stopped working weekends long ago in favour of the weekdays and some evenings which featured younger, more interactive crowds. Gérard was happy.
So it is not without a bit of irony that what lead to Gérard's later difficulties occurred at a charity function at the very venue where his career was launched (albeit for a different charity). It was, however, a senior's function. While Gérard felt obliged to help out, he did not look forward it.
And sure enough, his trademark quick style and his banter was met with shouts of, "Slow down, sonny!" and "Could you repeat that!" He was off his game. He was restless and bored. Between each numbers he had to wait, and wait, and wait while watching a sea of bobbing blue haired heads wave through the room and the soft mooud, mooud of bingo dabbers. To keep his sanity between numbers he would fidget. He called one number, then grab the next (as was his custom) and while waiting to call the number in his hand he would toss the ball into the air and catch it in his shirt pocket... catch it behind his back... catch it in his teeth.
It was with this last stunt that it happened. Just as he caught the ball in his teeth, a little old lady in the table just in front of him yelled, "BINGO!" with a force that startled him. He ulped, and swallowed the ball he had just deftly caught. With all the attention on the winner, no one had noticed. Gérard was not about to let such an incident affect his reputation, so he told no one. He confirmed the winner, finished his duties for the evening, collected his pay then quietly left.
But later that evening it started. The nausea. The bloated feeling in his gut. The discomfort while going to the bathroom. It was too much. The next day he was a wreck.
So he went to the emergency room. Not trusting doctor/patient confidentiality, Gérard described his symptoms but did not explain the incident. He was too embarassed, to boot. The puzzled doctor took X-Rays. After examining them he said to Gérard, "You have the strangest tumour I've ever seen. But don't worry. It's benign.