Girls' Night Out: Game Player by Jane Suter aka Plain JaneIt seems like every mom on the planet gathers once a month to play Bunco with her girlfriends. Everyone but me, that is. Apparently I was the last Bunco virgin in suburban America. I didn’t even know what I was missing until I found myself among a group of women (at the umpteenth birthday party my son was invited to this year) jabbering away about their Bunco-night bliss. On and on they went, until I couldn’t take it anymore. So instead of continuing to smile and nod, pretending to understand what they were talking about, I said it . . .

“What’s Bunco?”

In a flash there was dead silence. “Uh . . .” I stammered, as all eyes fixed on me, their mouths slack with astonishment and full-blown pity. Oh, great, I thought. I’m a dork once more. Slap some pimples on my face, give me poofy ’80s hair, and load my mouth with braces, because I totally know that look. Then, like they were speaking to a toddler, they explained the game. It requires 12 of your closest friends, some dice, scorecards, three tables to seat four people each, food, drinks, and prizes.

Wait just one minute here, missy! Did that lady just say 12 friends? Geesh, I’m still looking for two cool moms to hang out with, and these people can muster an egg carton?

An Event Planner?

The more they swooned over the hors d’oeuvres and drinks, the more it sounded like you needed an event planner to pull off one of these soirées. What are they throwing here, some dice, or a bridal shower for the Kardashians? The whole thing seemed completely cliquey and snooty, so of course I made it my mission to get invited to one of these mommy mixers as soon as possible.

I began by dropping not-so-subtle hints to every lady I knew. That’s right, I pulled out the Holy Trinity of motherly motivators: guilt, shame, and bribery. To my surprise, nothing worked. I had almost given up hope until an e-vite popped up in my inbox. Guess who’s goin’ to a Bunco bash!

The day of the party I was half giddy with excitement and half emotional basket case. What if they don’t like me? What if I say something stupid? In the end I focused on what was truly important—the new blouse I bought for the occasion. And then, it was time to roll.

The Big Night

When I arrived, my friend Sharon introduced me to everybody. To my great relief, these strangers were strangely nice. (I even got a compliment on my new blouse!) We ate M&Ms, feasted on amazing morsels, and talked about our children and husbands in a way only women are allowed to. Now I saw why they were so “into” this whole Bunco thing. It was basically men’s poker night minus the cigars, belching, and beef jerky. I was addicted.

In fact, so enraptured was I, that when they asked for a volunteer to host the next event, my hand shot up like they were giving away new cars. I practically screamed, “Pick me! Pick me!” My strategy was to be chosen as hostess so I could have one more shot at winning these moms over. Happily, my bid triumphed and I landed my very own night.

My party was a success and I now count these women as some of the finest friends I have. But that’s how it goes, right? You take a gamble, toss the dice, and hope for a big score. Fortunately, every now and then, the machine pays off. For me it was a windfall of friendship. But the odds swing wildly in this game of life we’re all playing. Sometimes you win, other times, not so much. And once in a very great while, you hit the jackpot!

Jane Suter is one funny mom. To share some of your own parenting experiences with Jane, write to her at Illustration by Colleen Johnson.