On Sunday, we drank and gambled

Because it wasn’t exciting enough to go to the movies on Friday afternoon, followed by a gala here at the house, followed by a sleepover Friday night, followed by some serious time spent down at the pond welcoming Spring (via the time-honored tradition of capturing minnows, splashing through streams, talking to the geese, and attempting to build your own dam), yesterday I took Chickadee to a fancy tea party.

We drank iced tea from goblets and ate all manner of fancy finger foods, and I know they were fancy because each delicious morsel was tinier than the next, and everyone knows that fancy food is miniature. The only BIG thing in the whole place was a gigantic mold of pimento cheese loaf—this is Georgia, after all—but despite my sincere wish to bury my face in it, even that had to be scooped off in little bits and put on our plates to go with little crackers.

The tea party was a charity event, and we’d been invited to go with a friend and her daughter. It was a windy day and the four of us were surprised to discover that the event was, in fact, being held outside. Well, no matter. We’d simply sit down and… oh, honey, it’s okay, I’ll get you another napkin! No, don’t put your drink down, it’ll… oh, that’s alright. We can get some more. Yes, I know your hair is blowing in your face. Yes, I know MY hair is starting to look like Tina Turner’s. Sure, I’ll just sit on your hat so it doesn’t blow away anymore. Here, just eat some more scones and try not to whine too loudly.

Both girls got chocolate on their fancy dresses in the space of about ten minutes, and while my friend told her daughter that it was no big deal, don’t worry, I had to bite off my tongue when it happened with Chickadee. See, the other little girl is only five, and accidents happen. Chickadee is ten and was fooling around and sticking her fingers in what was supposed to be dipping chocolate for strawberries. I managed to get out between my clenched teeth that I would try to wash it out at home.

The sun would hide behind a cloud and the wind would billow up and we’d all start shivering—we were dressed in our spring party finery, after all—and then the sun would reappear and the wind would die down a little and the girls would start whining that they were too hot. That was about as much fun as it sounds.

At one point my darling ray of sunshine, paragon of manners that she is, dipped her hand into her glass of tea and pulled out an ice cube. She then proceeded to rub it all over her face. I didn’t witness this, but was talking to someone and then turned back to behold my beloved offspring sitting there with a drippy face, looking like she’d just stuck her her into the punch bowl.

I’m not going to say the 5-year-old was BETTER behaved, necessarily, but let’s just say it was VERY CLOSE.

Anyway, there we sat, nibbling our fancy snacks and trying not to blow away, and in addition to the traditional tea party activities (drinking tea! eating tiny food! trying not to be blown off the lawn!) there was also a silent auction going on. We’d walked around to check out the offerings when we got there, and once we were done eating and chatting we decided to walk around again and see if there was anything we needed to bid on.

Now, I’m of the mindset that a silent auction—where local businesses have donated goods—is a great place to scoop up a DEAL, and you know that I’m all about the deal. Sadly, many of the misguided women present at this event seemed to believe that since it was for CHARITY, blah blah blah BLAH, it’s a good place to drive the price up and twice as much as you would, otherwise. THE NERVE.

This meant that I needed to STRATEGIZE. There were several items I would’ve happily bid upon if it wasn’t already clear that they were going to go for entirely too much money. I crossed those items off my list of possibilities immediately. Then there were several items you couldn’t have paid me to TAKE, so those were crossed off as well. What remained were a number of things I believed I MIGHT be able to obtain for a decent price, and would like to have, and so Chickadee and I set about making slow, lazy circles around the auction area to keep our eye on those items.

About half an hour before the auction closed, we bid on a couple of things. One of them was a “fiesta basket” consisting of a gift certificate to one of our favorite Mexican places, some fancy hot sauce, a couple of t-shirts, and a big bottle of Cuervo Gold. I added the price of the gift certificate to what I thought the tequila cost and bid that amount.

“Wow, Mama, you bid a LOT for that basket!” Chickadee whispered. “You must really like tacos!”

“Yes, I am a huge fan of tacos, as you know,” I told her, while petting the tequila and dreaming of margaritas. This is called setting a good example for your children. (Kids, don’t do tacos! Erm, wait.)

We continued looping around and at a table containing various services I noticed that ONE prize pack had a lot less information than the others. As a result (I suspected), the bidding was much lower. Surely, I reasoned, this prize would be just as good/expensive/whatever as the others… but perhaps because the presentation isn’t quite as good, people are reluctant to bid.

I wrote down a bid on the sheet, and whispered to Chickadee, “This would be a great anniversary gift for Otto if we win this one.” She nodded.

We continued looping around. We checked my friend’s progress on her bidding for a year’s supply of dog food. (Don’t laugh, this was a VERY HOT ITEM.) We went back to sit down, but Chickadee decided she wanted to keep an eye on “our items,” so she went back over to hover around and see if anyone else bid.

The organizers rang a little bell and announced that bidding would close in ten minutes.

I walked over to join Chickadee. She stage-whispered to me that we’d been outbid on both items.

“You have to bid again, Mama!” she had a gleam in her eye and I could see that she’d been bit hard by the competitive spirit.

I checked the Mexican basket. Too rich for my blood. I checked our other item. Hmmmm. I could still go up. I bid again. Chickadee bounced with glee.

We continued to stand there, you know, all casual-like, just looking around… and someone else walked up and bid on OUR ITEM. The nerve.

Chickadee tugged at me, “Bid again! Mom! Hurry up, it’s almost over!” I checked the price. Hmmmmm.

“Okay,” I finally relented. “ONE more bid. But this is it.” We bid again. And we stood there. And someone came along and topped our bid.

“MOOOOOOOOOM!!” Chickadee was frantic. “You have to bid again! Just a little bit more! I’ll give you some of the money out of my bank! You HAVE TO! You need it for your anniversary! For Otto! MOM!”

“Sweetie, the auction’s just about over. And really, we don’t need to spend the money.”

“Yes you DOOOOOO!” She was near tears, which was ridiculous, anyway, but that little voice in my head whispered, “it’s for CHARITY,” and then another $10 seemed a silly thing to quibble over.

“Fine, ONE MORE BID,” I agreed.

“I’ll write it!” she chirped, and she walked around to the front of the table and began writing down my name and bid. She wrote swiftly, then once the basic information was down her pace slowed. On our phone number, she suddenly seemed unable to write more than about a number every five seconds.

“What are you doing?” I asked her.

She giggled. “Nooooothiiiiiiiiiing…” she replied, continuing her sloooooowwww transcription.

Do you know what a 10-year-old girl in a pink party dress writing a bid down is, at a silent auction? She is a COMPETITION DEFLECTOR. What human in their right mind is going to walk up and tell a kid to hurry up, get off the sheet, they want to make a bid? Several people wandered our way while I paid a lot of attention to a neighboring item and none whatsoever to the little girl developing writer’s cramp. No one asked her to move, and so no one was able to make another bid. We won.

(Now before someone gets all huffy with me, her entire protracted bidding process might have taken a minute or two. This was right at the end of the auction. And I assume that someone who was TRULY DYING to outbid us would’ve said so.)

Chickadee was elated and I thanked her for her questionable but ultimately successful methods. And we came home with… something I can’t tell you about because IT’S A SURPRISE.

Oh, I came home with something else, too. A RAGING SUNBURN. Because I am a moron. And because I haven’t yet figured out that I live in Georgia.

By the time we got back to the house I realized that my shoulders were sizzling, and so during my afternoon of various chores I went ahead and, while putting fresh sheets on our bed, took off the heavy comforter and put on our summer bedspread. We’d been meaning to put the lighter cover on for about a week, now, and I figured ESPECIALLY with my skin all crispy I’d want a lighter cover.

Then last night we left the bedroom window cracked, as we do, and the temperature dipped waaaaaay down, and as a result I spent the entire night huddled against Otto under the bedspread, freezing to death, yet wincing any time my hot skin came into contact with anything. It was… not the most refreshing night’s sleep I’ve ever had.

Thank goodness I had the thrill of victory to bolster my spirits. That and a warmer set of pajamas could’ve made for a perfect evening….


  1. tori

    Congratulations on winning! Can’t wait to hear what it was. I love that you explained so to avoid (hopefully) nasty emails about her strategy. I have started doing the same thing when I write something that seems sure to get a bunch of emails.

  2. diane

    Silent auctions rock. We held one at our departmental Christmas party two years ago – a bidding war errupted over a basket of hot wheels toys. I felt rather badly when I had to wrest the pen from one man’s hand at the moment I called the close of bidding.

    Chickadee is one smart…er…chick.

  3. All Adither

    Yes, it does sound like some tequila was in order. A few shots and you might’ve slept a lot better. And not felt your sunburn much.

  4. Burgh Baby's Mom

    Could I rent Chickadee’s services for an eBay auction I’m trying to win? I think she may just be the master of the last second bid.

  5. Sue

    Way to go Chickadee! (Makes up for dipping her fingers in the chocolate and rubbing an ice cube on her face. sorta.) I went to a silent auction this weekend. We had to use numbers instead of our names. Which stunk because last year, I won what I wanted by sending someone over to distract the people I was bidding against while I entered the final bid. This year, I couldn’t figure out who it was. I might need to borrow your brilliant daughter’s methods next time.

  6. Jennifer

    Oh, your child is brilliant. We recently attended a silent auction event, and sadly, the only thing I wanted was the thing I’d contributed for the auction. My child was heartbroken that I didn’t want to bid $150 for a basket with crayons, paint and stickers in it (ahem, the one SHE wanted). . .

  7. Crisanne

    What a girl! Brings a tear to my eye… :)

  8. saucygrrl

    Hahaha! You’ve gotta love that child. She’s pretty awesome.

    You know what will help that sunburn? Apple cider vinegar. I swear it. If it’s really bad you can put some paper towel-soaked compresses on your shoulders, if it’s more mild you can pour some into a bath. Yeah, you’ll smell like some carnival french fries for a while but it beats the pain. :)

  9. Em

    You know, this slow bidding behavior is exactly the type of thing that results from sneaking food into movies. I bet you are wishing you spent $14 on goobers now, aren’t you? ;-)

    That girl knows what it takes to win. Burgh Baby’s Mom maybe right. Maybe she is a bidding savant. Maybe we are all witnesssing the start of a career in competitive bidding. I guess all bidding is competitive, but SUCCESSFUL bidding. There has to be a place in Trump’s organization for that kind of talent.

    It sounds like you guys had a nice mother/daughter day!

  10. Aimee

    Heh. Chickie’s my kinda girl (except for the ice-cube-rubbing. THAT is a mystery.)

  11. Vane

    Congrats on winning the auction. I would totally send you some tequila to ease your pain, except I think shipping alcohol is illegal :P

  12. Bob

    so – were there cheese straws?

  13. Beth

    I second the vote on apple cider vinegar for sunburn — it feels good, and you smell cheery, which is always a good thing!

    It’s also good for the little bumps a bunch of us get on our arms and legs, since it’s a natural exfoliant.

  14. Kailani

    We just spent our spring break in Georgia, and I wish I had known sooner about the whole apple cider vinegar thing! While sitting on the beach on an overcast – windy with slight chill – sort of day, I totally missed the fact that I was crisping up like a piece of meat! And yes….there was wine involved. What is the remedy for peeling like an onion??

  15. Megan

    I’ve only created items for silent auctions – never bid, but I did make a basket filled with the essentials (booze, chocolate and two fancy candles because… well that made it less gluttonous than just booze and chocolate) and laughed until I cried when the Big Man In The Room got into a competition with The Other Really Big Man and drove the price of that basket of 6 $10 wines up into four figures. FOUR!! Egos are fabulous things. For charity.

  16. Sheryl

    Atta girl Chickadee ;) (You need to rent Paper Moon and watch it together. Or maybe not. :oP)

  17. Sheila

    Chickadee has excellent natural instincts about winning silent auction items. Want to know what else works well? Being pregnant. About five years ago, heavy with child, I actually scored more items at our school’s auction than I intended, as people seemed to feel sorry for me having to lurch around from table to table. Well, except for that one big guy I had to forcibly push out of the way to sneak in the last bid on an American Girl doll. He didn’t seem to have any concern for my delicate state.

    (Now that I think of it, you may not want to tell Chickadee about this. Her lust for winning her very first item could lead to drastic measures to continue the high, and I don’t want to be the cause of any real trouble. You just let her keep on with the Slow and Deliberate Method. It works well enough.)

  18. Amy-Go

    Um, I know this is completely off-topic, but from those of us who read FTK and saw Joshilyn’s post on Palmetto bugs today, the following message:

    One does NOT capture Palmetto bugs. Or RELEASE them. EVER.

    Yankees. Good grief.

  19. RubiaLala

    That is awesome. I love it.

  20. mike golch

    sounds like you had a lotta fun.

  21. Terri

    I love silent auctions. We do one at our preschool every spring, and boy does it get competitive. Nothing like a charity bidding contest to prompt you to spend money on stuff you really don’t need. ;)

  22. donna

    OH, she’s quick . . . and sly. Sounds like a great day to me.

  23. Carolie

    Yay, a wonderful Mir story with TWO opportunities for me to give ass-vice! (Yes, I refrained during the Movie Food discussion).

    1. Sunburn — cider vinegar or Phillip’s Milk of Magnesia. Yes, applied, not drunk. Something about the milky consistency and the mint takes the sting and heat out of sunburn. Thus speaks Lobster Girl.

    2. To remove chocolate (or just about any food, or even blood, for that matter) from fabric, use saliva. That’s right, spit. It’s free, and it works — the enzymes in your saliva will help break down the stain. I know, it’s gross, but it works! Spit on it and let it sit for a while. Then use whatever stain treaters or detergent you usually use and wash in cold water. Should get it right out!

    Best of luck…and thanks, as always, for your posts!

  24. Betsy Bird

    Great post! Great daughter!

  25. annie

    Ah, yes – so smart! But in regards to the dipping chocolate and ice-cube facial, isn’t it amazing how they simply cannot understand why some behaviors are forgivable at 5 but not at 10? Or 6 vs. 16… Good luck!

  26. ChristieNY

    I love me some Chickie!!! Too cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Daisy

    I enjoy silent auctions. Next time I’ll have to bring Chicky with me!

  28. LiteralDan

    I like the way she thinks

    But you may have to watch out in case she develops a gambling problem after this

    Explain to her that the high she feels is just from the little fancy food

  29. carolyn

    You gotta love a lively child, and Chickie? She is lively.

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