School auctions are dangerous. Right up there with shark attacks and thong bodysuits. Auctions for pet causes are bad enough. But an auction for your kids? Game over. Because your kids—they need things. To refrain from buying stuff at a school auction would be tantamount to stunting your kids’ emotional growth, something you’re already doing plenty of by leaving them at school to earn a living. Combine all that with an open bar, and you’re looking at a wicked hangover the morning after.
The morning after this year’s auction, I woke up feeling panicked. I remembered the night before, but only the aura of it. None of the details. And I knew there were details. How much had I spent? I knew there had been alcohol. I recalled that. But how much alcohol? I had gulped down a fortifying cocktail on the way in, to try to forget that I was dressed, ridiculously, as an aging hipster. After that, I couldn’t recall any drink in particular.
I looked through the photos on my phone. I was either holding a drink and/or looked drunk in all of them. Oh my God. How much had I spent???
I laid in bed under my covers and concentrated on remembering details. I knew I’d raised my paddle for new science equipment. But that’s ok. I mean, who can’t get behind science equipment? My boys would need to learn science if they were to become billionaire oligarchs. I knew I’d bought a berry picking trip with my kids’ teachers. Best money I’d spent all night, if I was to judge from years prior. But there was something else, wasn’t there?
I kept scrolling through pics. My friend Caroline (in top hat) is always the cool girl in the room who seems up for anything. And that’s a really bad trait to have around when it comes to auctions. As for Mollyanne (neck tats), she’s got so much joie de vivre that you can get a contact high if you stand too close to her. Sitting between these two had clearly been my first mistake. Especially since Caroline’s husband Aaron, a relatively calm and mitigating influence, was in Asia on business. As for Tom, photos confirmed that he’d not been in a state to stop me from doing anything.
I remembered Caroline, at some point, pointing to an item in the catalog. That’s right. A tango party! For seven couples! How sophisticated! How droll. I remembered telling her we’d go in on it, together. I remembered a lot of my arm, up in the air, waving my bidder number around, high from the wine and the energy in the room and Mollyanne’s woohoo’ing. I remembered Tom, fake moustache dangling, lunging across the table to take my bidder card away from me. I remembered being annoyed that Tom was harshing my buzz.
Alas. If only he’d harshed my buzz a little harder, I might have thought through the tango party a bit. Questions might have popped up. Legitimate questions. Like, would I have to wear tango shoes? I look really bad in mid-heels. Or: how would I blackmail Tom into attending a party at which he was required to dance in front of other people? And my God—what about the other couples? Even assuming Caroline could manage to drug Aaron and then lead his unconscious body around on the dance floor, that meant we’d need to find five other couples willing to humiliate themselves. Why hadn’t I thought of all this the night before??
Over the next few days, I pieced together the rest of that fateful night. A couple days later at pickup, I found a ceramic platter laying out on a table at the school with my name on it. I didn’t remember bidding on it. Hell I didn’t even remember seeing it. But the platter was beautiful, and I was gratified to realize that my drunk self had excellent taste in serveware. I wondered how much I’d paid. I wanted to know, but apparently I didn’t really want to know, because when I saw the auction receipt peeking out of my kids’ file folder, I left it there for three whole days.
In the end, it could have been worse. I could have been Caroline. She texted me this photo, with a message: “Is there anything that I DIDN’T buy?”
Caroline has a busy summer ahead of her. Learning how to tango, making salad rolls and Almond Roca. Canning jam, and attending a garden dinner in NW Portland. Enjoying a romantic idyll in Bali with Aaron…and her three sons. But it’s alright, both her spending and mine. Because it was for a good cause. The best cause.