Auctioning and Sleuthy Exit

I mentioned on this blog that I was asked to serve as the chief auctioneer as a fundraiser during a local “fireman’s ball” sponsored by my local fire department where I serve as a Life Member.

How did I fare?

Setting: about 200 people — far more than I expected — attended this event. I was not aware that this event drew the crowd that it did because I have avoided going to it all these years. This past Saturday night was the first time that I attended it.

I was seated with some buddies at a table set for eight. I felt awkward because each of my (male) friends had his wife with him, and the chair next to me was vacant. My spouse was invited but absolutely detests events like this. He says that the noise hurts his ears. But he is a social recluse; always has been. I am not going to force him to change. I just live with feeling an emptiness when he is not with me.

I was asked “where is your … um… ahhh…”

I’m used to that. I just answered directly, “my husband doesn’t like events like this and he’s at home.” Simple, direct, honest. (But I really don’t like it when friends can’t use the word that describes our legal relationship. If they don’t like the word “husband”, they can use the word “spouse.” See this past post about that issue.)

I digress… The food served for dinner was great. The discussion and banter around the table was funny and enjoyable. They even had plenty of non-caffeinated, non-alcohol drink, which is my preference.

And then… the Chief took the microphone and announced the amount raised in a silent auction that preceded the live auction — a little over $10,000. Not bad!

The Chief called on me to take the podium and call the live auction. I walked onto the stage quite nervously. I am not sure why I had such butterflies in my stomach, but I did. (Generally, I feel uncomfortable when wearing a suit. I really dislike dressing up.)

A buddy called out, “those are great shitkickers you’ve got on! Apply one of those to the butt of someone who doesn’t bid enough!” — referring, of course, to my boots. What boots? I decided to wear my Legendary Cowboy Boots that my spouse had custom made for me, and I wore when we were married. I chose the boots because they have 2.5-inch heels, so I don’t feel (as) short among tall men.

I began slowly and with easy-to-auction items like a weekend getaway vacation, gift certificates for dinners at local restaurants, and even a rather large gift certificate from a local building supplies retailer.

I got into a stride. I relaxed somewhat and began to have fun. I engaged in banter with people who were there, including many I did not know. I cajoled, persuaded, laughed, and even twisted an arm or two (figuratively), especially of local elected officials who are easily talked into bidding on these auctions in order to “save face” publicly. (Aside: it’s nice to know them personally, so they know that I know why they are there and they also know that I would not deliberately embarrass them.)

By the end of my 45 minutes of fame (it felt like 4.5 hours…), we had raised more than $25,000 for the fire department and its community work.

I did not know if that amount of money raised by auctioning was good or not until the Chief in his remarks of appreciation for my service said, “I knew I made the right choice when I asked you to run the auction. You raised more in our live auction than we’ve ever raised before. You’re coming back next year!” … and then the others in the room applauded.

Good grief.

After about 15 minutes of back-slaps and handshakes, the band tuned up and began to play. Men and women got up to dance. Fortunately, social norms dictate that first dances are reserved for spouses and dates, so since I was “stag,” I could make my exit without being noticed.

I went to the coat room, grabbed my jacket, and silently left. Before I got there, I had made it abundantly clear that I was not going to stay late and was not going to dance. Auction-calling was enough. Seriously, basta!

I was home by 9:30pm… not too bad. It could have been worse.

Life is short: do well what you can do.

PS: Some of you may ask if my friends Chad and Tom were there. Chad is a firefighter with this department, though at a different station. I served as Best Man at their marriage ceremony. Unfortunately, Tom had to work, and Chad did not want to attend “stag,” so neither of them attended.

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About BHD

I am an average middle-aged biker who lives in the greater suburban sprawl of the Maryland suburbs north and west of Washington, DC, USA.

One thought on “Auctioning and Sleuthy Exit

  1. Congrats on your bid calling triumph! Sounds to me as if you were the high point of the night. I’m glad you were able to relax and enjoy yourself at that event. I suspect most of your readers will be able to relate to what you endured but in your case, you also were able to make a difference, a good one too, in the lives of the people who will benefit from your bid calling. And you did it wearing boots. It don’t get better than that.

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