"I feel like my grandma," chimed in Monique Portusach-Cepeda '01. Benazzo and Portusach-Cepeda were two of the eighty students gathered at tables in Andrews Hall for a Bingo game hosted by President E. Gordon Gee, who is on his way to making such semester-break stress-relievers a Brown tradition. (Last year Gee and his wife, Constance, bought every seat at Thayer Street's Avon theater so he could treat students stranded on campus to a showing of Starship Troopers.)
If the idea was to chase away the stuck-at-school blues with a few rounds of a relaxing church-basement pastime, Gee had miscalculated the intensity of Brown students: like their grandmas, they played to win.
First the balls in the machine at the front of the room rattled. Then the chattering and the potato-chip munching subsided, as the voice on the microphone boomed: "Oh. Seventy. Five!"
"Yes!" exclaimed Rudy Sagastume '00. "Three more, baby, let's go."
The students were stranded at Brown for various reasons: Benazzo was hanging around for job interviews, Portusach-Cepeda had no travel money, and Sagastume was organizing Latino History Month. The game, Gee said, "is just to let the students have fun, let me have fun, and hopefully give me a chance to meet a few more of them."
The grand-prize round brought a new challenge for the now-expert players: they had to fill in every square on the Bingo grid. Ryan Overbey '01 took the game when his last three squares were called in succession. "It was, like, meant to be," said an elated Overbey, leaping out of his seat to claim a Brown rugby shirt, two baseball caps, a water bottle, a T-shirt, and a canvas bag at the front table. After the game, students joined Gee for free sundaes and waffle cones at Ben and Jerry's on Meeting Street, where someone had hung a sign reading Welcome Brown Castaways. Waiting in line, Overbey was reliving the final seconds leading up to his win.
"I was shaking and stuff," he said. "Everyone at the table was breathing heavily. I haven't had this much pressure since my religious studies midterm."