Donna was here this weekend, which was totally good times. Although I’ve been feeling more at home in SF lately, it was good to see someone from the “old neighborhood.” Donna and I also have a lot of interests/hobbies in common, so that’s fun too. I’m almost positive we were the only ones who were doing our Advanced Grammar homework together on the weekends in college, for fun. Interspersed, of course, with a few rounds of Trivial Pursuit.
Especially for Donna’s visit I tried my hand at tater tot hotdish, and I think it went pretty well. After the hotdish we played some Trivial Pursuit, and for once I beat her. It was sweet. Not that I’m competitive, of course…
Anyway, Donna and her parents introduced me to a new event Saturday–the estate auction. I’d sort of heard of them, and knew they happened, but somehow in my mind it seemed like you should be over 50 to attend and wearing a seedcap.
I was wrong. It was awesome! It felt like something Kathleen Norris would write about as a way to showcase what a community values. And if you’re sick of me framing things in terms of Kathleen Norris, too bad. I like her.
One of the interesting things about the auction to me was that it was also a display of the N’west Iowa classic menu–taverns, creamed chicken buns, hot dogs, chips, pop, bars and cookies. Next to the cash box and the ladies collecting the dollars and change was a sign about the food. It was coalition of churches who apparently are catering. How inventive!
The auction itself was very cool. I spent most of the time just thinking about the process of it. Like where do you go once you auction off all your stuff? To a nursing home? A retirement home? I also wondered if I would go to the auction if it were my own stuff being sold to the highest bidder. As the items were brought to the front, boxes of stuffed kittens or a rocking horse whose horse looked more like a long-nosed dog, I really wanted to know where they came from.
A better question at some points was where were the items going? Some people bought things that were so strange to me, like the box of stuffed cats. Someone also bought a box of bobble-head dogs…what would you do with them? Some of the items seemed to me to have a predestined home–the Midwest mandatory clutter collection that resides on tops of cupboards, entwined with fake ivy or other viney plastic plants.
Auctioneering itself is also a marvel to me. I wasn’t as interested in the auctioneer himself as the….other man….well, I don’t know what the second guy is called. He was dressed like the auctioneer, but his job was to watch the crowd, point at the bidders like a kid pointing a toy gun at an opponent, and yell things that sounded like “Hep!” and “Yes!” His eyes were opened extremely wide, making me wonder if that’s his natural look, or an “auction face.”
Maybe auctions are old hat for people who grew up around here, but as my first one, I loved it. I’ll leave ya’ll with one image, that almost had me and Donna laughing out loud. As they auctioned things off, they had helpers whose job it was to hold up the items being bid on. One of the guys was Hispanic, and obviously the only Hispanic man in the building, wearing an AC/DC t-shirt. The auctioneer, whose job it is not only to auction things off, but also to make jokes, asked the man to hold up a kid’s wooden pull toy, in the shape of a puppy. It was maybe a foot and a half long, and about 6 inches high. As the man held it up, the auctioneer showed off his wit, and quipped “Hey, did you ride that in here, amigo?”
I’m not sure it’s funny in print, but it was hilarious.