Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Silent Night

First of all, I want to thank everyone who participated in my little trip down Elderly Lane. I thought one answer would stand out, be the obvious winner, but I'm saddened and gleeful to say that many, many of us are far more mature than I had suspected.

I do, however, hold a special warm place in my heart for "I have to go home and take my pill."

Now, on to new business. It's silent-auction season. You either just looked puzzled and murmured "Auctions have a season...?" or just sighed and thought Like you need to tell me that, Quinn. As if I haven't stood around in someone's living room twice in the last month holding a glass of oaky white wine trying to find something cheap to bid on. If it's not your kid's school, trying to cobble together a working budget one bath-salt basket at a time, it's your favorite charity, hoping to cover their fund-shortage by getting a bidding war going on the Dr. Who DVD collection. I don't go to the short of silent auctions where men in hand-tooled shoes nearly come to blows over the lifetime supply of Cuban cigars. I go to the sort of silent auctions where people try to avoid eye-contact with the woman staffing the basket-room as they ask themselves What can I bid on which is cheap but not so cheap that I look as if I resent how oaky the Chardonnay is?

Or, in my case, you bid on the thing which is ill-concieved. Yes readers, I pick my auctions items the way I pick my pets; pity. Which is where one would have found me a few weeks ago, stopped in dismay in front of a basket with a large card declaring it the "KNITTING BASKET!!!" The exclamation points just made the unbid-upon items just that much more wistful. I examined the contents. Yes, there was yarn, a Matterhorn of yarn. It was soft, yes, and thick but in colors best described as Ish; bluish, greenish, pinkish. One color was so adament to not commit to a place on the spectrum it would best have been described as being ish-ish. There was a set of size 14 needles and a knitting book which had seen several owners, at least one of whom had been of the "Eating while reading" variety. I have participated in enough silent auctions, on both sides of the basket, often enough to be able to read the semiotics of this item. Back in the 80's, someone had decided to make her male loved one a sweater of the sort Bill Cosby wore on his show. She bought herself a book; she bought herself needles; she bought yarn. And then she bought some more yarn. And then, because buying yarn is possibly the most fun you have with yarn, she bought some more yarn. On cold winter nights, she'd eat some soup or some chili and, flipping through the knitting book, dream of putting all the men in her life in matching sweaters of great comfort and no particular color.

Thirty years passed.

Then, one day, her neighbor mentioned she was the coordinator for a silent auction and wouldn't this woman like to donate something to help the children/dogs/the sinking palazzos in Venice and she thought I can finally get that closet space back! Next thing you know, it's an unloved pile of yarn and I'm writing my name next to the minimal opening bid.

"Is this Quinn?"


"I'm calling from the silent auction. You won the yarn basket!"

Of course I did.

Details to follow.


Blogger Shirley said...

What luck! Once you get your yarn basket you should join Lots of inspiration.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous elizabeth said...

Maybe that yarn basket would be best suited for your cats! Size 14 needles?!?! Tree trunks!

9:50 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

A few years ago, when my daughter was of preschool-attending age, we happened upon a most wonderful preschool for children with special needs (which would include my kid) and were so, so happy to have her there, as we'd had to pull her out of her previous, not-intended-for-any-special-needs-at-all-and-really,-why-are-you-thinking-your-kid-should-even-be-here-at-our-lovely-school? preschool. This place was small, nonprofit, private and in desperate need of financial support. So grateful were we for the incredible services they were providing to our child each morning (double gratitude from me for no longer having to spend eleventy million hours trekking hither and yon all over western NY each week to schlep her to and from various therapy appts - speech, physical, occupational...) that when the director of the school (who'd made a spot available for our kid upon hearing our Tale of Woe and Heartbreak) asked if I'd be interested in helping out with the school's big "Monte Carlo Night" fundraiser, I instantly said sure.

And promptly found myself in charge of the damned silent auction.

This silent auction was most definitively not of the "hand-tooled shoe wearing men coming to blows over the lifetime supply of Cuban cigars" but rather of the "ummm, I think I have some moldering old merchandise I never returned to the wholesaler rotting in the back storeroom, hang on a minute" variety. Your ishy knitting basket would've fit right in with what I had to try to sell to the crowd. I spent many painful hours up in an unused, sauna-like and dusty top floor classroom sorting through and packaging these "treasures" into baskets that maybe, just maybe would attract a pity bid or two. Some of the items came from baskets that hadn't scored any bidders in silent auctions from decades before. Those were the worst - the "golden oldies" that apparently fundraiser-night regulars would recognize if I didn't repackage them well enough.


I'm having traumatic flashbacks thinking about it, even 4 years later...

I cannot wait to see the picture you'll feel compelled to post of Consort, Daughter, the pets and yourself all wearing your hand-knitted, Cosby-esque sweaters, beaming from in front of the fireplace in this year's holiday card! I think knitted berets are particularly attractive accessories for such sweaters, especially when they're tiny for kitties' heads.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous --Deb said...

Deep breaths, Quinn. I know how, um, excited you are about the prospect of knitting, so ... um ... maybe you should just admire the pretty yarn? (Though the knitter in me is wondering what KIND of yarn it is.)

2:50 PM  
Blogger lisahgolden said...

I finally stopped laughing long enough to ask you to please have forensics done on the food bits ans splatters in the book and let us know what kind of soup.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is off the topic but I have no way of emailing you....have you seen this blog

it reminds me of your fashion magazine tea-tubing

5:24 PM  
Blogger Beth Harbison said...

"at least one of whom had been of the "Eating while reading" variety"....literally laughed and laughed out loud, all alone, like a crazy person.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

Quinn-I am shedding tears laughing...I can always count on you! Thanks!

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Paula said...

And you've warmed my heart! :)

3:15 PM  
Blogger Jakarta Rocks said...

Your kidding - my husband just got me a sapphire and diamond eternity band from a silent auction.

Your fundraiser needs to work out how to get better things for auction, have it at a black tie event, get free flow champagne and spirits happening, then wait until after midnight to call it. The men will outbid each other every time (especially if they are under the illusion that their wife might like it).

Don't they ask for donations from businesses?

12:36 AM  
Anonymous MidLifeMama said...

Ish-ish. Priceless.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

Even at the end of a crap day when I am trying to kick coffee (why oh why), you can make me laugh.

Thank you.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Loved your riff on the Portable Dorothy Parker on Patti's blog. My favorite, falling-apart, read and re-read book too.

7:37 PM  
Anonymous the gold digger said...

Last Christmas, my husband's parents got us a photo of themselves and a cast-iron cat. The year before, they sent us a custom-made jigsaw puzzle of a map of our neighborhood. You know - a map that more or less included our address.

Although I have not been able to convince my husband to get rid of the cast-iron cat (I will burn the photo after my husband dies), he did agree that the puzzle was not something that interested us. (We do like puzzles but we like pictures of pretty things and we can get those puzzles for $1 at Goodwill. It is not necessary to pay $40 for a custom-made puzzle of a map.)

We donated it to the church for the auction for the youth group. Nobody bought it in the silent auction, but once I told Pastor Chris the story behind the puzzle, he talked it up during supper and actually sold it, as in-law bad gifts apparently are understood the country over.

10:24 AM  

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