[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
going, going, gone
this isn’t the first time in my life i’ve had a rather extended spell of not dating.
actually, it isn’t the second time, either. but why nitpick?
i remember a similar dry spell after my divorce. my mom and my sister grew rather concerned that i wasn’t “getting back out there” and that i needed to “get back in the game.” of course, had i the ability of foresight, i would have taken much twisted pleasure in telling them that their intervention efforts were in vain and that, at the age of thirty-four, i still wouldn’t be remarried, still wouldn’t have a child, and actually wouldn’t even be dating anyone. most likely, the two of them would have wept uncontrollably for ten minutes or so, after which my mom would again suggest that i not rule out an alternative lifestyle as a possibility.
as part of their intervention, my mother bought two tickets – one for me, and one for my sister – to a charity bachelor auction. i heard the message loud and clear: it was now the belief of my family that i would need to pay a man to go out with me.
i was willing to accept this premise at face value. however, what baffled me was why my sister would need to be there.
see, my sister – and, forgive me if i’ve mentioned this before – is a goddess. tall. spectacular rack. beautiful green eyes. dimples. really, there isn’t a single feature the two of us share, although, recently, someone, in what i can only chalk up to desperation, suggested we have the same ears. to which we responded, “whatever.”
my sister would have been voted “least likely to have to buy a guy at a charity auction” were anyone to vote on such things.
i would not win such a title.
whereas my sister is a goddess, i’m more of a…fungus.
now, before anyone rolls their eyes and mumbles something about “this is such an obvious ploy for ego stroking,” let me finish.
it’s not that i’m a singularly unattractive woman. i’m not completely without my physical merits. it’s just that i’m not the girl who walks into a bar and stops conversation. i’m not the girl who guys fall all over themselves buying drinks for. i’m that girl’s quirky best friend that the guys talk to in hopes that i will convince her to give them her phone number.
the thing is that, occasionally, if it’s the right guy, he discovers, much to his surprise, that he would rather have my number. he’s not entirely sure why. maybe it was the banter. or the obscure movie references. maybe it was my unadulterated love of baseball. he’s just not sure, but all he knows is that, somewhere along the way, i grew on him.
i’m more of a “think piece.” if you know what i mean.
so, my sister and i head off to this charity auction, each of us with a wad of money from our mom. you gotta love my mom, really…not only did she suggest that we go out and buy ourselves a couple of men, she bankrolled us.
we’re ecstatic to find an open bar at the auction. we’re actually so ecstatic that we miss the first two bachelors. we settle in just as bachelor number three is taking the stage.
there he is in his rented tux, broad shouldered and smiling from ear to ear. the announcer rattles off his merits…where he works, that he enjoys giving back rubs, and that he likes puppies.
like there are people who don’t like puppies.
at any rate, the catcalls begin, and so does the bidding. as he struts to our side of the stage, i look at him for a moment. there’s no doubt…he’s a good-looking guy. and there’s no doubt…he knows he’s a good-looking guy. my sister and i confer.
“this is so not me.”
“what the hell was that thing about the puppies? who hates puppies?!”
“i know. but you have to get one. mom will be pissed if we don’t get one.”
“well, you get him.”
“i don’t want him. i’m dating someone.”
“yeah. i’m dating someone. but i haven’t told mom yet. not sure if i’m ready to introduce him or anything like that.”
“then what the hell are we doing here?”
“well, you’re certainly not dating anyone.”
“oh for god’s sake. i thought we were both here to...wait...you’re just here to, what, like, to make sure i actually came?”
“well, that you actually showed up...and didn’t just get drunk.”
“okay, here’s my plan: i’ll give you my money. and that way you can get whatever guy you want. and we’ll just tell mom that you liked him so much that we decided to pool our money.”
“okay, but we take whatever money is left over and go shoe shopping.”
“well, then, let’s bid, shall we?”
and so we took great joy in running up the bidding on every bachelor who took the stage thereafter, bailing out before sealing the deal. the bachelors were thrilled to see my sister bidding, the disappointment obvious on their faces when we let some other woman swoop in at the last minute and steal him away. we felt justified in our game-playing, telling ourselves we were just doing our part to raise more money for a worthy charity.
still, with each new bachelor, my sister looked at me as if to say “well?”
they were all handsome enough, but, with each one, i ended up shrugging my shoulders.
for me, the attraction is in the connection. the chemistry. the verbal sparring. can he hold his own with me? watching men parade across a stage didn't get me anywhere. except back to the open bar.
i had just returned yet again from the bar when the announcer called for the next bachelor. he stepped timidly out onto the stage, shielding his eyes from the spotlight with one hand.
he was cute, although in a funky geek-chic way. he was a bit gangly. his glasses a bit big. and his rented tux was a truly lousy fit.
his name was john, and he was from great britain, the emcee announced. she opened the bidding at $150.
there was not a sound from the room.
i wanted to sink down into the floor.
he was trying his best to convince the crowd of ladies to bid, but no one was going for it.
i leaned over to my sister, “god, this is horrible!”
and then he came out to the edge of the stage and lifted his trouser leg ever so slightly. and, there, beneath the too-long leg of his poorly fitted rental tux were his socks. not just any socks. socks emblazoned with the union jack. and john gave us his best vanna white hand gesture to draw our attention to them.
and it hit me all at once that, if the tables were turned, if this was some bachelorette auction, john would be me. he probably volunteered for this thing against his better judgment, but with the best of intentions to raise money for a worthy cause.
it would be me standing up on that stage in front of a room full of guys who weren’t meeting my eyes and not bidding on me. that had been me most of my life.
and before i even realized what i was doing, i opened the bidding.
he looked gratefully at me, mouthing "thank you," and clutching his heart with his hands.
i leaned over to my sister again.
“bid on him.”
“bid on him now.”
“but i’m giving you my money.”
“right, but we’ll just bid against each other until someone else chimes in, then we’ll let them have him. just like we’ve been doing. do it. now!”
and so we bid.
when my sister put her arm up, you could hear a murmur go through the crowd. then, from the back, a woman shouted “two fifty.”
the thinking, of course, was that, if my sister the goddess was bidding, then this must be a guy worth having.
up on the stage, john was a changed man. a smile spread across his face, and he stood just a little taller. suddenly, his tux didn’t look quite so ill-fitting. and i had to admit, his smile was quite nice.
he began to strike poses and dance around the stage. and, the more he danced and strutted, the more the women went wild.
“three hundred, there in the red dress.”
and so it went until john had been sold for six hundred and seventy-five dollars.
“sold! sold for six hundred and seventy-five dollars to the lovely lady here in front!”
and, with that, john leapt down from the stage, pulled me to my feet, and then, with a grace i don’t think even he suspected he possessed, he dipped me toward the floor and kissed me. like something right out of a movie.
on the way home, my sister and i stopped in the local truck stop, our cocktail dresses eliciting a few whistles and more than a few stares from the truck drivers at the counter. she had a chocolate milkshake. i had cherry pie.
“so...after we pay for this, i’m thinking we don’t really have enough money left for shoe shopping.”
this, of course, was because our maternal bankroll had only been six hundred dollars...we'd ponied up the rest ourselves.
although john and i only went out twice – and he almost died on our second date – it was the best $675 i ever spent. it was worth it to make him feel that he was every bit as sexy, every bit as desirable as those conventionally handsome guys.
even though we didn’t continue to date, we did see each other as friends until john headed back to the uk. when he left, he gave me a pair of union jack socks to remember him by. about a year later, i got a note from him. he had met a woman and they had gotten engaged. he went on to tell me that he didn’t think he would have had the nerve to go up and talk to her had it not been for our talks. and that he would never forget that night at the auction when we made him feel like the best-looking guy in the place.
a few weeks ago, my sister and i sat down for one of those wonderful talks we’re able to have now. not so much as sisters, but as two women who love each other unconditionally and know each other so well we don’t even have to say anything to know that the other needs us to listen. i told her about a man i’d met recently and how, for the first time in a very long time, i felt like someone really saw me. and, also for the first time in a long time, how that made me feel alive and beautiful and sexy.
“remember that guy you bought at that auction that time?”
“yep. actually, and this might come as a surprise to you, that’s the only time i’ve ever paid for a man’s company, so you don’t have to be so specific about which guy he was.”
“oh, shut up. remember how you told me that you thought he was like you?”
“well, i’d give you every six hundred dollars i have if you would believe that you’re beautiful and that every man who meets you – really meets you, jules – falls in love with you, even if it’s just a little bit. i’ve seen it. they can’t help themselves. you’re amazing. and brilliant. and sexy. and i wish you saw yourself the way i do.”
we sat quietly for a while, and i reached over and put my arm around her.
“all the six hundred dollars you have? because, you know, you’re the wife of a very successful doctor. you’re loaded. so, that’s a lot of money. i say we try it out and see if it helps. i like this, actually. i'm beginning to enjoy these little interventions.”
“oh, shut up,” she laughed, and put her arms around me.
"i love you."
"i love you, too."
and we sat there watching the fireflies in the trees with our arms around each other until our mother called us in for dinner. like we were little girls all over again. both of us smiling. both of us beautiful.
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