I’m off to another charity benefit. Want to join me?
Here’s the deal. It’s a Saturday night. I’ve blown my hair dry so that it looks almost as shiny and straight as the locks of my friends who have had Keratin or Brazilian blow out treatments. I remind myself that I should just get a salon blow dry for “special” nights out and then feel ridiculous for caring so much about my hair.
I deliberate what to wear and end up in something black. Black with Spanx.
Next, I apply mascara and eye liner, which I find irritating, and so, by the time the babysitter and the pizza arrive, it looks like I have been crying and/or have a black eye.
I notice that it’s cold outside. And so very, very dark for only 6:00.
I contemplate putting on my robe and Ugg slippers and climbing into bed with my Kindle.
But, no! The Cause needs me!
The Cause needs my husband, Brett! (Actually, the Cause definitely does not need Brett. But more about that later.)
Zoom ahead an hour or so. I’m out with my friends. I’ve had a few glasses of wine by now and have stuffed several unsatisfyingly small hors d’ouvers into my mouth. Although I participate in the buzz and hum of conversation around me, I am actually a vulture, continuously scanning the room for the next tray of bite-sized morsels to emerge from the kitchen. When I see a jacketed waiter come near, I pounce like a grown-up barbarian version of Cookie Monster, loading up on tiny tuna tartare. I eat and eat, but no matter how many trays I accost, I’m still starving.
Once I’ve made the rounds and said hello to most of the Important People at the event, it’s time to get down to business. It’s time to bid on the silent auction items. Or, as I like to say, it’s time to shop competitively for the Cause.
The world disappears as I scan the items up for sale and imagine how much I need them. Before this evening, indeed, right up until this very moment, I didn’t know I needed these things. But now, I do. I very much do. Like, for example, the two-hour DJ party, complete with mirrorball. I need that. And, then there’s the catered dinner for 10, for which a chef comes into your home and cooks a gourmet meal in your kitchen and then serves it to you and your friends in your own dining room. I scan the room and decide which couples I’d invite, were I to win this item tonight. Then I scribble my assigned bidding number under some others, upping the big by $50, because, who wouldn’t want to win that? And donate the money to charity? I leave my post for a moment to tell everyone the good news: I’m bidding on a party – for us! With a catered dinner and a DJ! Everyone agrees: I’m awesome. I must win, win, win.
But I’ve only seen, like, half the items. I quickly forego more socializing to return to the Cause, pen in hand. There’s a session with a photographer, and I think, when was the last time I had professional pictures taken of my kids? And since the answer is “before Zoe was born,” I scribble my number there too. I mean, I’m quite delinquent as a mother to not have professional photos of both of my offspring, right?
Oooo. A wine tasting. That would go nicely with the DJ and the dinner party.
Then there are several items that fall into the “Duh” category, as in “Duh, you’d be stupid not to bid on me since you use me anyway.” Camp tuition, gift certificates to local merchants, and Soul Cycle classes, for example. Sign me up.
Once I’ve gone the full length of the tables and made my interests known, it’s time to start looping back and checking on the status of my bids. I play a little game with bidder number 37, clearly another spinning fanatic, as we dance the Tango of the bidding war. I add $20, she adds $20. I add $20 more, she pulls a bold move an adds $40. I am on the verge of being outbid, and eventually, I am. I concede defeat. Which is fine. You win some, you lose some.
I mean, it’s fine as long as I win the DJ, that is.
My friend Sloan wants me to win the DJ too. She has an inventive strategy. “I’m going to just sit on the bidding sheet, so no one sees it,” she says, plunking her butt down on the table.
“Move on, people, there’s nothing to see here,” she tells the crowd. Crossing one leg over the other, Sloan’s black stiletto booties dare anyone to get too close to my DJ.
Eventually, the evening ends, and I collect the spoils of my war for the Cause.
“Look!” I enthuse to Brett at the end of the evening. “We won some great stuff!”
My husband is not impressed.
“We didn’t need any of it.” He says. Always so reasonable. Always so practical. “Plus, did you check the dates on any of these things?”
“No.” I say, rolling my eyes. “It’s for charity.” My husband is such a buzzkill.
But then I sneak a peek at my items when Brett isn’t looking. I discover that the DJ party is only good on weekdays and expires in March, which means I have to use it in the winter. Which means indoors. Oh well, I think, I’ll move the couch. And the coffee table. And the rug.
Only, where will I move these things to? And, if I don’t have a couch, where will people sit when they are not dancing under my new mirrorball?
Then again, maybe there will be no people sitting or dancing since I’ll be having my party on a Tuesday in January and who wants to attend something awful like that?
Luckily, the DJ company goes out of business the following week and I don’t have to worry about the party specifics at all.
Other flaws with my “winning” items reveal themselves more slowly. I do have the dinner party for 10, only the hot soup is served lukewarm and the chewy steak even lukewarmier. The wine tasting is fun. Just ask the sommelier who came with the prize; he’s so wasted that I can’t get him to stop a) talking incoherently and b) chugging all my best bottles.
The photo session goes well, but when it comes time to view the shots, the company will only show us 20 of the estimated 3000 images taken. Brett, a designer, would like to view them all. The photography salesman tells us he’s sorry, but that’s just not possible since they deleted them. I quickly usher my kids out the door as Daddy Talks with Angry Language and a Loud Voice to the manager of the photography studio.
The only picture I have from that experience is the last image of Brett on that day, frozen permanently in my mind’s eye.
“No more bidding,” he huffs, getting into the car and buckling his seat with more hostility than necessary. “Promise me. Ever. On anything.”
And just like that, I am done.
Like Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear, I have gone too far for my Cause. And now, due to my enthusiasm, I have paid the price. I have been kicked out, banned from fighting the good fight, never again allowed to participate in a sport I love.
Good thing there are other ways to support my favorite causes. Like online pledging. And bake sales. And holiday boutiques. What? That’s totally different than bidding at an auction. Just ask Brett.
(Or better yet: don’t.)