File this somewhere between "I should know better by now," and "Guaranteed to offend everyone I know," but I am about to get loud over Silent Auctions.
Unless you're a native Aborigine (and then the word is gabi gabi tok tok, meaning, "to screw your fellow villager",) you’re certainly familiar with the Silent Auction fundraising model. Strategically located near the open bar, several donated goods and services are lined up with bid sheets below. The highest bid at the end of the evening "wins" that particular item, and all of the proceeds go to that charity.
I am not singling out any organization or abused chairperson--everyone does it the same way and if I criticize too much, I run the risk of being saddled with the hapless job of coming up with a new method. Which in my case would most certainly involve several high interest loans, a border run, and a guy with no last name who always refers to himself in the third person. This is probably not what the founders of the Orphaned Baby Alpacas had envisioned for their 50's night at the Holiday Inn. So we are all stuck with this this auction-based form of fundraising for the very far future.
We've recently attended a number of these events, and from what I remember of them, they are a unique experience. The best part of any auction is that you don't "buy" anything, you "win" it. Curiously, the "winner" is the guy that paid the most money for crap he didn’t want in the first place. This would be the purchasing equivalent of finding an item at a store that you had no interest in, waiting for it to go off-sale, and then checking back three or four times to make sure you had paid the highest inflated value. Sort of like shopping at Pottery Barn.
If you insert the phrase, "But it's for a good cause," in front of any item at an auction, you can rationalize your way through the most ridiculous purchases. If you punctuate the sentence with another glass of punch, you will end up to be more charitable than Mother Theresa. As you probably have guessed, I have recently "won" a set of cookware for a good cause. And because "it goes to charity," a teeth whitening session from a local dentist. And a Cracker Barrel rocking chair with a bunch of signatures on it. And a leaf blower. And eleventy-billion Legos. And a case of off-brand Riesling. And a gift certificate for a car wash. And a decorative clock. And buyer's remorse. And a hangover.
But it was for a good cause, right? RIGHT?!!??!
And so will my defense fund when I break in to the Orphaned Baby Alpaca Headquarters and steal my check back.