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Of Swords And Clubs

Jones To The Grindstone.com [1]

Adding stress to an already stressful situation is not a good idea, especially when dealing with the U.S. Army. While deployed in the desert, around a dozen men found out their wives back on the post were being investigated for a crime. What in the hell?

All fun and games until...All fun and games until…

It all started with a “GNO,” a girls’ night out. Imagine the setting: alcoholic beverages flood, women giggle and shriek like little school girls (accompanied by “jazz hands” gestures), and finger foods colorfully dot and decorate the kitchen counter tops. Music plays—the kind that encourages dancing and singing out the chorus (cue: Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”). The typical conversation fodder ranges from marital topics and men to parenting yarns to fashion discoveries and even to hairstyles of the “do” and “don’t” variety. Good female bonding and fellowship galore, right?

Get ready for gossip, maligning, and sin. Amongst military spouses (the women), these type of game nights are very popular, especially in military housing areas. This revelry centers on a dice game of luck, Bunco, or as some people like to call it, “Drunko.” The game requires many different seating opportunities, so as to max out gregarious interactions. The “head table” rings the bell to begin and pretty much runs the show from there. Alas, the social pyramid is set. Let the games begin.

It is common for a Bunco Night to occur once a month and usually by invitation only. For some, being invited to Bunco the first time is almost like an audition to see if they are cool enough to be invited back. Those head table ladies run the invite list and would decide amongst themselves who made a good fit for the next time. If someone seemed like a square peg, then the head table ladies would arrange to lose the square’s number.

Typically, the ladies are on their best behavior until the booze begins to soak in, then tongues start to wag about whoever isn’t there. And on one Army post’s friendly game night of Bunco, sticky fingers got in on the game as well.  At the end of the night, the hostess of that night’s festivities had her purse lifted!

No one admitted to the heist, but an informal group decision was made on “who dunnit.” The prime suspect, although never arrested (for no one ever was), suddenly became persona non grata and public enemy number one amongst the Bunco Drunkos. Her name was mud. The peer pressure to not have anything to do with her was fierce. If you were spotted with the assumed pilferer, you became guilty by association. Things spiraled out of control—the hearsay had hit a fever pitch.

When the guys rolled back in from the desert, they had to contain their wives and try to return a sense of normalcy to the social climate on the post. The commander had to, well, command, that the men control their dependents. Disorder and chaos within the spousal ranks is certainly a morale killer for everyone.

GNOs and Bunco gatherings are meant to be a time for women to come together, enjoy commonalities, and make deeper friendships; but, they can instead turn into vehicles for women to beat upon each other. Perhaps in the case of the missing designer bag “who dunnit” mystery tour, that night’s game of choice should’ve been the classic board game, Clue, and not Bunco. Maybe Colonel Mustard’s wife did do it in the dining room with the rope?