I graciously accepted the seat that was pulled out for me by my date, and smoothed a napkin daintily over my lap to cover my prom dress. I felt beautiful, if only for the fact that I was surrounded by Salt Lake City's elite and almost counted myself as one of them for the evening.
Seated around me were some of my favorite co-workers and their guests, all looking shined-up and ready for something exciting to happen. After our black-tied servers brought us a delicious meal, the emcee began the live auction. In this economic downturn, the bids were slightly disappointing, but some items were sold for inexplicably high rates--like an enchilada dinner for 20 people that sold for $3,000. This boosted my confidence and my desire to step off the bench and join in the game; not for any real amount of money, of course, but I always want to do my part to get rich people to spend money for a good cause.
My ears perked up when a trip to Mexico was mentioned. It seemed like it would be a popular item, since some of the other, less exotic trips had sold fairly easily. Before I knew what was happening, my hand shot in the air as soon as they opened the bidding. I should have listened, because the auctioneer started the bidding at $3,500.
Gasp. (From those seated at my table.)
Crickets. (From everybody else in the room.)
It was a curious feeling, like swimming underwater, but with superhuman laser-pointing eyes that zero in on one man with a microphone who was making his way to my table...
Heart. Palpitations. Sweaty. Palms. Swallowing bugs with less-than-daintily open mouth.
In my desperation, I turned to the nearest bid-spotter and hissed—that's right, I hissed, because a lady under duress does not raise her voice or use foul language to make her point—she hisses. So I hissed, "What are you doing? SELL THIS THING!" To which he enthusiastically responds "Oh no, you want this. This is cool!"
Apparently he loves sick kids more than my financial well being. Oh, my dear beneficiaries of the Ronald McDonald House, I love you. I really do. But I also love making rent. And not starving. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why nobody in the room is making a peep. Too busy eating your shrimp scampi, Mr. Millionaire? Excuse me, Baroness of the Backless Dress to my right, but could you spare a couple grand so I can sleep tonight? Contrary to my appearance and polished demeanor, I do not in fact have a hospital wing named after me. My perfect posture is merely a ruse, to mask the fact that I'm only here for the food. And to look hot in my prom dress.
Meanwhile, the silence in the room had reached bone-crushing density and the widened eyes of every person at my table threatened to dislodged themselves at any moment. I was on the verge of some unladylike outlets for my panic, i.e. tearing out my hair and jumping frantically on the table, when a voice pierced the fog of my certain demise. One, clear, six-figure salary voice of mercy fought through the din and massaged a rhythm back into my heart with his sweet, affluent cry of "$3,600!"
...Sold! For $3,600!
I may have shed tears.
The collective sigh of relief from those near me was a substantial boon to our depleting ozone layer (global warming? Sounds more like global whining!). My heart found the will to go on, my kids thanked me for their college funds, and my prom dress went to the cleaners...for reasons I find unladylike to describe.