Our first Country Auction! Friday night, we sought out advice from our sage auction-master, Don England. He gave us this advice:
"First: Go early, pick out what you like, and set a price in your mind what you'll pay. Don't go over it.""Don, why are there so many seconds?"
Second: Auction starts at 10:00. Don't show up at 11:00.
Second: Don't jump around and get all gleeful when your item is up. Keep a poker face about you.
Second: If you win something, make a note of it on the back of your card; keep track of what you've spent, it's easy to get caught up.
Second: The hamburgers are good. Have one."
"Because they're all second to Number 1."
After the farmer's market we tooled on to Jim Clingan's Auction Center in St. Joseph, IL, still not knowing what to expect. It was 91 degrees, and I was relieved to find that the auction was held in a shelter. With fans. And clean restrooms. And concessions.
We arrived 1/2 hour early and took stock. Furniture on one side of the room. Mm-hmmm. "Stuff" on the other. Amazing stuff: beautiful quilts, sets of silver. And odd stuff. This is a "lot." A "Lot" = "A box full of loot."
Yes. That IS spools of thread and used hearing aids. The tricky thing about lots is that you usually want ONE thing in the box, and have to buy the entire lot.
We followed Don's instructions: We picked out what we liked. We quizzed one another: "What's your top dollar, Dana? What's your limit, Marcy?" We were shifty-eyed, careful not to reveal what we'd be bidding on. We were snaky and ready, when the auctioneer took the stand.
Have you ever been stunned, in a dark room, by a strobe light? White flashing lights, making everything appear in slow motion, rendering you totally, temporarily, disoriented from the sensory assault?
That was us yesterday; the three of us fell into a weird trance when the auctioneer began calling. You could have walked up and tapped our foreheads, and we would have fallen right over, like cows.
Bimbo Tipping. [CitySlickers: E-mail me if you don't get that joke.]
Watch this clip from Saturday morning, and you'll understand why we were taken off-guard:
This we had to learn to follow, and learn it fast, before our items came up. We had a couple of false starts. We discovered there's no discussing amongst yourselves what you should do, DURING the bidding of your item. There is no freeze-frame.
We learned from our mistakes, and had our shit together by the time our real heart's desires rolled around. We didn't smile. We were focused and shrewd. We didn't wave our arms to bid, but just lifted our chin to the auctioneer's eyes, to indicate that yes, we'd go another dollar. We were cold-blooded shysters, intent on taking home our books and umbrella stands come hell or high water.
All right, in all honesty, Marcy and I DID both bid against ourselves. Not against each other, mind you. Against OURSELVES. Marcy's books got up to $27.50, and when the $30.00 bid came 'round, she bid on that too. By God, if anyone was going to pay $30, it would be her! I did the same damned thing with my table. The auctioneer recognized us for the rookies we were, and kindly pretended not to notice. We won our books and tables and umbrella stands.
The three of us broke all auction etiquette by cheering and clapping for one another. Dana didn't buy anything, but that didn't keep her from high-fiving us for kicking some auction ass. I swear, if we'd had footballs, we would have spiked them and done the chicken dance.
It was a long, hot day. Mike and Ilaiy showed up to pack the loot:
They were efficient packers, leaving no cranny unpacked:
I came home with one table, and 4 chairs I wasn't sure I wanted (part of the lot) but might make due with. Also a brass umbrella stand filled with long-handled umbrellas, an old-timey coffee grinder (for Ilaiy), 10 copper coffee mugs engraved with someone else's monogram and an old milk jar (part of the lot). All for $50.
We were hot, dirty, and exhausted by the time we arrived home. We unloaded and followed this little sweetie's lead:
Next Auction: July 8.
We can hardly wait.