Arisan of fortune

by Tabitha Kidwell

I’m not much of a gambler, and I never win anything.  I had never even been to a casino until July, when I went to Greektown casino in Detroit with my roommates from college.  I didn’t even know what to do in there.  I sat down at a video poker game, put in $10, won $3 immediately, then promptly lost it all.  Later that evening, my friends sat me down at the Pai  Gow poker table and taught me how to play.  I put down my remaining $90 and decided I would just see where it would take me.  I had a few push hands and managed to last an hour or so, but I didn’t have one winning hand the whole time.  Having flushed $100 down the toilet, I decided to go to bed and not bother with gambling ever again.

So it was only through a misunderstanding that I again tempted fate this afternoon.  I got a note under my door yesterday, and with the help of Google translate, I deciphered that I had been invited to the ibu-ibu (mothers) meeting today at 4 PM.  Though I am not a mother (and usually can’t even keep plants alive), I guess I belong in this meeting more than the bapak-bapak (fathers) meeting.   I asked my neighbor about it and she explained that we were meeting to elect officers and collect social dues, money to pay the guards, and trash fees.  Our neighborhood is a new development, so the “civic association” is just getting started.  I dutifully showed up, shook everyone’s hand, and tried to follow as best I could while we chose officers and discussed how much we should all contribute for various funds.  I forked over whatever they asked me to, even if I wasn’t sure what it was for – including 10,000 rupiah for something that sounded like the French word for “hedgehog.”

Once everyone had contributed to the hedgehog, they put all the names in a bowl and shook it until one paper fell out.  I had figured out by this time that a arisan was a raffle or lottery, and I was really hoping I wouldn’t win.  The $30 in the pot would have been a lot more exciting to everyone else in the room.  What were the odds, I thought – there were 25 of us in the room, and some had bought two or three tickets.  Turns out, pretty good.  I didn’t really know how to turn the hedgehog down, so I took home the 320,000 rupiah, feeling a little embarrassed that the only person in the neighborhood without a husband and kids had taken everyone’s money.   I thought my discomfort would end there, but it turns out, the hedgehog winner is also the host of next month’s meeting!  So, on the second Sunday in November, every mother in the neighborhood will be coming to the house of the only single lady.  And then I will know to not contribute to the hedgehog in the first place!

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One Comment to “Arisan of fortune”

  1. I love the “hedgehog” fund! But that’s kinda fun you get to host everyone!

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