My parents are avid supporters of a private school in our area. So avid, in fact, that they buy a table for the annual capital fund drive. Do they stop there? Spending only 4-digit sums of our inheritance? NO! They joyfully fling amazing amounts of me and my siblings' retirement money! Which is even more amazing if you knew these 2 wonderful people. They live a frugal and low-key life.
But last night. NO! Not frugal at all!
My sister and I voted to leave our spouses at home this year. The men? They always bid on weird stuff and end up winning their auctions. And hiss and give other signs of extreme discomfort when our obviously well-chosen and necessary item auction's bidding gets a bit too high, in their opinions. So, seester and I made the obvious decision to leave the pesky spouses at home. Except that, well, we arrived too late at the function to actually do any bidding! Foiled, again! And actually arrived too late to get our bidding paddles, which forced us to use our parents, much to their dismay. In fact, we got there so late, our dear Daddy and the Chairman of the Board were waiting for us and unceremoniously hauled us in, with no time for practicing the social grace of actually stopping to chat with any of the various friends we whizzed by, and plunked us at opposite sides of the table. "But, but... Nobody is actually sitting yet..." I stammered, looking up in amazement at the Big Cahuna. Did I mention that I am GodMother to this man's children? That I actually was instrumental in getting this man's children into the school in the first place? That they owe me, big time?
Suddenly everyone sits down. The seating arrangement makes sense! I am seated next to one of my best friends in the world, the Big Cahuna's wife. Mother to my GodChildren. We can't wait to start visiting. But first? I must admire her exquisite outfit! It's a skirt that amazes me with it's fit, quality of design and material. Where has she found such a thing? "Kentucky!" she gushes and I almost fall out of my chair. Her lace top with sexy, fitted underblouse that shows off her cleavage in an understated, appropriate kind of way, is equally admirable. Then we have to discuss my ensemble; a Mi Sook suit, with a beaded silk tank underneath. That I meant to tailor to make my bosom less prominent, but... instead? I spend the evening tugging it back. This week, I will take the shoulders up by 1". It will then be perfect! It's a gorgeous, fitted, pleated, darted thing. A lucky find. But not as wonderful as her outfit.
Another couple is seated at our table. They have 3 young children and an extremely successful business. Their presence at our table is not by accident; my father and the Big Cahuna have arranged the seating to have their ears, so to speak. And now the placement of my sister and I become crystal clear; they have seated my beautiful, elegant, eloquent and calm sister between the gentlemen and my father; my father is a bit deaf and she will softly translate into his ear. The Cahuna is seated next to the wife half of the power couple, and asks and answers questions. Me? I am seated where I can be the least problem - I am a known dessert-stealer and prankster at these events. I can see eyes sliding my way, waiting for something to fly up in the air or explode tableside. I swear, I do not plan these things. I think someone rigs the table. There are pratfalls, fires, exploding balloons that fly to neighboring tables causing screams and overturned glasses. This year? There was the collapsing guest at the neighboring table. I yelp for cold water and oxygen. The auctioneer yodels for "A Doctor In The House?!" over the sound system. 10 doctors rush up - they turn away the fellow with the PhD in English Literature. (Okay, bad joke) The O2 and paramedics arrive. The very embarrassed patron is carried out to applause. In my zeal to get our chairs back, I have managed to take a chair from a neighboring table. The chair-missing portly person reaches back while starting to sit down, and nearly throws her back out while contorting to straighten back up or plunk unceremoniously down on the floor. The Cahuna gets a chair under her rump, just in time. Scraping the tops of his shoes in his zealous process. I am horrified. How do these things happen? He gives me a punch on my arm, very un-Chauna-like. I punch him back, and we start a sissy-slapping war. My mother hisses at us from across the table, and we freeze. The auction has started back up, order is returned.
The bidding on the 8 or 10 Big Ticket Items begins. It is getting really late and my stomach is starting to go from a polite growl to a fierce yowling. I start in on the bread, which starts a feeding frenzy at our table. I swear we would have gnawed at the butter balls, but we ran out. The bidding starts out modestly, then accelerates. My parents bid on a few things, lose. My mother decided that she was going to win on one thing, and she did. My father was talking to my sister and said "Huh-what?!" when someone turned and congratulated him on their win. He made a move for the paddle, but my mother is much too fast for him. I notice that the paddle remained under her control for the evening. My dear friend insisted it was to whack either me or her husband with the next display of ADD behavior, "Remember the Knick, Knack Paddle Whack you got 3 years ago?" Ah, yes.
But the funniest thing? Guests are confused as to who belongs to whom. I am seated by Cahuna; they assume we are married and ask about our children. I quickly pat Mrs. Cahuna and say "This is wife to This one" (patting Cahuna) "Me and That one?" (Pointing to my sister across the table) "We are Gay Partners." The Guests faces freeze in Whatthefuck Land. Wife Guest attempts to look encouraging and nod. My Dear Friend, Mrs. Cahuna, yelps "Stop that!" at the same time the entire table breaks into vehement denial or exclamations of sisterhood. Which makes Guest couple go "Ah!" with even more confused faces. My mother says "Oh, That One is BAD!" (pointing to me) "And she is MINE. Yes my daughter. Along with that One (pointing to my sister) Who is GOOD." Guest show me their teeth with smiles, but their eyes? Still a bit concerned. So I tell them "Yes, it's true. We are sisters. And we are here to keep track of our inheritance! You see; Them? (pointing at my parents) They are spending our inheritance. We at least want to come and get a meal out of it." Which makes my mother throw up her hands in exasperation and my father burst our laughing. The Cahunas are roaring with laughter. The Guests joint them nervously at first, then thoroughly. I get a Raised Eyebrow from my mother.
Then comes a blue-sky item; a teacher-spending-time-with-student item. Serious bidding starts. Really Serious. Cahuna whispers to the beautiful young mother sitting next to him. She smiles. Whispers to her husband. His paddle is raised often, his posture intense. The bidding goes higher. The room gets quiet. The teachers are wildly ecstatic on the stage. The ballroom explodes with cheering. The bidding war escalates. Our table is the center of the universe. Suddenly, silence. 2 last bids. The beautiful young mother places her hand on her husband's arm and nods. He bids. One. Last. Time. The amount is astonishing. Our mouths are agape. The husband wins! The crowd explodes! Teachers are screaming and hugging each other on stage. The beautiful young mother runs to the stage and the teachers surround her, hugging her. Her tears of joy make her husband the proudest man in the universe. I stand up, tell him "Well Done! Well Done." He smiles, embarrassed. Our entire table stands and applauds his generosity. Then the entire room stands. His wife runs back to the table and hugs him, then gently kisses him. It was a Powerful Thing they have just experienced. I laugh, having witnessed this before. The pure joy that generosity brings. And they have young children! Many years to experience such joy.
Then the dinners arrive. Okay fare, held too long due to the medical emergency. No one complains. Then, one last opportunity to contribute to the capital fund. A dear friend of my parents is retiring from the School. The film of her life of service to the school brings many tears. My mother honors her with a bid. Others match. The bids are amazing in their amounts and frequency. She cries in unabashed emotion. It was a very sweet moment.
Then dessert arrives. Cahuna is circulating in the room, thanking the guests for their amazing generosity. His absence is taken immediate advantage of; I exchange our desserts. The generous couple's jaws drop in amazement as I also distract my dear friend The Cahuna's Wife and rob her of a portion of dessert. My sister and I then exchange bits of my father's dessert as he has foolishly left the table to circulate, leaving his dessert unprotected. My mother begs us to leave him some chocolate; we plop a good portion back on, garnish it with a generous portion of fruit, and then give up a bit more of the luscious dark chocolate banner, to boot. Cahuna and Father arrive back to the table. And sigh. It happens every year. They never learn.
This event is my parents opportunity to shine. And I wouldn't miss seeing their joy for the world. And the couple at our table? We shook hands, smooched and the husband said "Maybe we'll sit at a different table next year..." and Cahuna muttered in my ear, very quietly, "I don't think so..."