|By Riley McDavid|
“You two going to Casino Night?” Arnie asked us. At the time we were down on our hands and knees, doing some gardening in our front yard and Arnie was out for a walk. Before I could say yes, Mrs. McD spoke up.
“What Casino Night?” she said, pretending to be totally ignorant.
“Age Well’s Casino Night. It’s June 29th at Club House Five in the Village. Six p.m. It’s the year’s biggest fundraiser for the Sylvester Center.”
“Never heard of it,” Mrs. McD said.
“Really! I coulda sworn I saw y’all there last year.”
“Not us,” Mrs. McD said as she tossed another clump into a pile of weeds she had pulled.
Of course we had gone, but by now I figured I’d better go along with whatever game Mrs. McD was playing. “You probably saw someone who looked like me.,” I said. “A lot of people look like me.”
“That’s right,” Mrs. McD said. “Years ago at the Bangor airport a baggage handler came up to him and said, ‘Aren’t you the movie star?’ And before Riley could say no, I said to the guy, ‘Would you like his autograph?’ ‘I sure would,’ he said, and he gave Riley his Red Sox cap and asked him to write on the visor.”
“I was dumbfounded,” I said to Arnie. “What name was I supposed to sign?”
“So what name did you sign?”
“His name was Don, so I wrote ‘Best of luck, Don,’ quite legibly. Then I made a series of scrawls intended to look like a first and last name.”
“Who did he think you were?” Arnie asked.
“Clooney. Hugh Jackman. Maybe Stallone,” I said.
“Probably Buddy Ebsen,” Mrs. McD said. “Anyway tell us about this Casino thingy.” So Arnie raved on about what a great night it was every year and how much fun everyone had.
“There’s poker and craps and roulette and blackjack and Texas Hold ‘em. There’s even bingo if you’re not into industrial strength gambling.”
“You’re talking to the wrong woman, Arnie,” I said. “She plays some heavy duty craps every time we’re on a cruise ship.” To emphasize my point, Mrs. McD screwed up her face, spit on a clump for good luck, rolled it towards the weed pile as if she were tossing a pair of dice.
“Well then you’ll love this,” Arnie said. “For $25 you get a hundred bucks in play money, a super yummy refreshment table, and four hours around hundreds of people who are having more fun than a bunch of hogs in a…”
“Don’t finish that, Arnie,” I said. “We believe you.”
“Where do we get tickets?” Mrs. McD asked.
‘At the door or at the Sylvester Memorabilia Senior Center,” he replied.
“Memorial, Arnie,” I said. “Memorial.”
“Right. Then at the end there’s a drawing for some really great prizes. Not just a few. I mean it seems like that drawing goes on forever, and there’s a bunch of hoopin’ and hollerin’ every time someone realizes they’re holding the lucky number.”
“What kind of prizes? I asked. Now I had trouble keeping a straight face, because just about every year Mrs. McD and I contributed a prize.
“A flat screen TV, an iPad, restaurant gift cards, grocery gift cards, money trees, mall gift cards and gift baskets, lots of gift baskets. I won one of them last year. It had all kinds of cheeses from Holland and fancy shmancy crackers and little yummies wrapped up in gold and silver foil.”
“How long did it take you to eat all that?” I asked.
Arnie’s face turned really serious. “Oh, I didn’t eat it,” he said. “I gave it to a lady on my Meals on Wheels route.”
Mrs. McD straightened up and looked at Arnie. He had her full attention. “Really?”
“Really,” Arnie said. “This woman has no one. I mean no one. No husband, no kids, and I don’t think very many friends. But she’s always happy to see me and gives me a big hug and asks about my daughter and all. She raved about that basket for months.”
Mrs. McD stared at him for several moments. Finally she said, “Arnie that was so sweet of you.”
“Aw shucks,” he said.
After Arnie continued on his walk and was out of earshot, I said, “Now don’t you feel guilty for tricking a nice guy like that?” She kept on digging without speaking. “Wait! Are those really a couple of tears I see on the face of Hard Hearted Hannah?”
She picked up another clump and hurled it viciously at the weed pile. “Hush your mouth,” she said.
Coming up on the Age Well Calendar:
Saturday, June 29: Casino Night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Clubhouse 5 in Laguna Woods Village. Major Sponsors: Dody Hohnstein and MemorialCare Medical Group. For $25, you get admission, $100 in play money, and a bountiful snack table, You’ll also be able to win some great raffle prizes, including a flat screen TV, an iPad, restaurant gift cards, grocery gift cards, money trees, and mall gift cards, with more prizes to be announced. This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Florence Sylvester Center, thanks to the generosity of many individuals and businesses and the outstanding support of Saddleback Kiwanis. Tickets available at the door and at the Florence Sylvester Memorial Senior Center.
August 8. The Annual Donor Recognition and Board Installation at the Ritz Carlton, Dana Point, hosted by First Bank. High tea, wine and cheese reception. The event will be in the Pacific Promenade from 4 pm to 7 pm. Tickets: $50 per person. For more information, call (949) 855-8033.