I blame it on the little black dress.
The little black dress makes you think you can do anything and be anyone. Take one little black dress, a pair of red heels, and a bartender pouring free wine, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Throw in a “charity event” and a silent auction and you’ve got one working class mother of two who suddenly believes she’s Emily Gilmore.
It all starts with that damn dress.
Jared and I attended a charity event last week that included dinner and a silent auction. Because one does not go to a dinner for charity. One attends a charity event. The company he works for was footing the bill, but that didn’t make me feel any less like I deserved to be there as I flitted around from one white linen covered table to another. I balanced my wine glass in one hand and scribbled my name and phone number on various bidding sheets with the other. I eagerly promised to buy vacation packages, spa trips, a chartered fishing trip and a tandem sky diving experience.
“Find anything?” Jared asked as we finally made our way into the dining room.
“Oh, you know, a few things,” I admitted. I ignored the look of concern that flashed across his face and made my way to table 22.
We sat down with Jared’s boss and his wife and another of Jared’s co-workers and his wife. This was the type of event that required a tie and a wife. We were making small talk about work and kids and plans for the summer when I noticed the colored brochure sitting on my dinner plate.
“Oh, look!” I held my brochure out for Jared to see, “they’re going to be doing a live auction!”
He nodded his head and smiled before continuing on with his conversation. I flipped through the glossy pages of the brochure and wondered who in the hell was going to get excited about a teddy bear and watch. And then I saw it.
A brightly colored picture of the Eiffel Tower was calling out to me from the second page of the brochure.
“Oh my God, Paris.”
“Uh huh,” Jared nodded again.
“Jared, look! They’re auctioning off a trip to Paris.”
“It is nice. Can you imagine? Paris! Look… air fare, hotel… wow…”
“Yep. Pretty cool.” I was beginning to suspect he wasn’t really listening to me.
“We should go to Paris,” I said.
“Yep. That’s nice.”
The conversation went on around me, and I went on reading about the trip to Paris. And the trip to Greece. And the trip to the Isle of Capri. And then again about the trip to Paris. A uniformed waitress came by with a tray of steak and potatoes and I put the brochure aside to make room in front of me. I was halfway through my steak when the auctioneer took the stage.
“Shhh…. it’s starting!” I hushed our table mates and leaned forward in my chair to try to hear better.
The auction started with that stupid teddy bear.
“Who in the hell is going to -”
“Fifty dollars!” Jared’s boss cut me off with his bid.
“Are you really bidding on this thing?” I asked, because I have no tact or good sense when it comes to things like talking to your husband’s boss, apparently.
“Seventy five!” he shouted again and waved his hand in the air.
“One twenty five,” someone yelled from the other side of the room.
“Nah, too much,” Jared’s boss bowed out of the bidding and someone else stood to claim their teddy bear and a round of applause for their charitable efforts.
“I cannot believe you were going to buy that thing,” I teased. “Oh, look. Now they’re selling a really cool watch. Maybe you want that, too.” He ignored me and went back to his steak. Jared might have given me a dirty look and a gentle kick under the table. Perhaps he thought I was making fun of a really nice watch.
“And now, we have a very exciting item for you,” the auctioneer was gearing up for his next pitch.
“This is it! Oh my God this is it!” I clapped my hands in anticipation and the boss’s wife opened up her own brochure.
“Are you going to buy something?” she asked me.
“It’s the trip to Paris,” I squealed. “A week long trip to Paris! For two!” I turned to Jared’s boss again, “You’d give Jared time off work for this, right?”
He laughed, and then suddenly seemed to realized that I was serious. “Oh. Oh! Um, yeah, I mean, the best time for him to go would be the winter I suppose and…”
“Great!” I squeezed Jared’s arm. “He says you can go!”
“We’ll start the bidding at $2,000,” the auctioneer called from the stage.
“Two thousand!” I shouted and waved my hands in the air.
“And we have twenty four hundred,” the auctioneer was pointing at the other side of the room.
“Twenty five!” I shouted louder and waved my hands a little more frantically.
“Oh my God, she’s bidding,” the boss’s wife said. “This is so much fun!”
“And we have three. Do I hear thirty one?” the auctioneer was still speaking to the other side of the room.
“I don’t understand. They must not hear me. Am I doing this wrong?” I looked around the table for guidance and was met with blank stares and shrugs.
“Thirty one!” I screamed and waved.
“We have thirty one!” a thin man with bright white hair was suddenly standing next to me and raising his hand in the air, repeating my bid. The auctioneer turned on the stage, microphone in hand, and pointed at me.
“We have thirty one,” he announced. And he was talking about me.
“Oh my God I’m bidding!” I turned to Jared and bounced in my seat. “I’m bidding! I’m bidding!”
“What the hell are you doing?” he whispered.
“Do I have thirty five?”
“Thirty five! Thirty five!” I shouted at the white haired man, who in turn shouted at the auctioneer on my behalf, “We have thirty five over here.”
“Jared! Jared! We have thirty five!”
My heart was racing and I was grinning from ear to ear. I was bidding! On Paris! I was talking to the old man with the white hair and he was telling the whole room that I was buying a trip to Paris!
“Britt, what the hell are you doing?” Jared wasn’t whispering anymore. I’d say it was more like hissing as he leaned in close to me and put a hand on top of mine in an effort to steady me and the bouncing.
“I’m bidding!” I repeated.
“What are you doing?” he asked again.
“It’s Paris,” I hissed back.
“Ma’am, can you go thirty seven?” the white haired man asked.
“We have thirty seven, ladies and gentleman!”
We had thirty seven! We had thirty seven hundred! and that was me! and I was winning! and WE WERE GOING TO PARIS!
“Britt.” It was no longer a hiss. It was a I am not a fucking around command.
My heart stopped racing. All noise stopped completely as I turned to meet my husband’s gaze.
“But… but… Jared…” he didn’t flinch. “But it’s Paris. You said we could go and -”
“Not like this! What are you doing?”
“We have savings! It’s fine!”
“Ma’am, can you go forty one,” the white haired man was leaning in closer than ever now. The room was silent.
“Why do you hate me?”
“But it’s -”
“Ma’am? Forty one?”
No one else was bidding. The bidding had stopped at $4,000 and everyone was waiting to see what I would do next. Paris was within my grasp. I just had to say forty one and it was mine.
“Jared, Paris. And I promise -”
He shook his head.
“We are no longer friends.” I turned to the white haired man and it was my turn to shake my head, “No, I’m out.”
“And… SOLD for $4,000!” the room erupted in applause. I couldn’t see the winner standing on the other side of the room, claiming my trip to Paris.
“I can’t believe I’m not going to Paris.”
“I can’t believe you just tried to buy a trip to Paris!”
“Yes, well, you suck,” I answered.
Jared sighed and rolled his eyes and returned to his meal. The rest of the table followed suit and the trip to Paris was forgotten as the auction continued.
“Maybe we should go to Greece…”
“No! So help me God, you are not buying anything else!”
“I haven’t bought anything yet, remember? Because you hate me?”
“I don’t hate you,” he laughed. “But you’ve lost your damned mind.”
“Oh man, though, wouldn’t it have been cool to win a trip to Paris, honey?”
“Britt! You weren’t winning a trip! You were buying a trip with four thousand dollars!”
“Blah, blah, blah, you know what I mean.”
“Do you know what you mean?”
I may have stuck my tongue out at him in response.
“Damn it,” Jared shifted in his seat.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
I looked over my shoulder to find the nearest exit. “It’s just out that door,” I pointed behind me.
“I can’t go to the bathroom!”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because I can’t leave you alone in here!”
“And next up, a beautiful trip to Greece!” the auctioneer called out from the stage.
“I think you should go to the bathroom,” I offered.
“The bidding will start at twenty five hundred…”
“I’ll hold it.”