The art of the bid

The spring auction season across the district has been a busy one with a veritable blizzard of events.
This past weekend climaxed with the final two and it was obvious bidders had honed their skills to a fine edge, determined to outshine the rest of the hoard.
The gawkers, professional bargain-hunters, socialites, and even a few newbies rolled in early—poking, prodding, and probing the display of treasures carefully collected over a lifetime.
Each sale was a trash ’n treasure extravaganza. As I circled the goodies, the Pearl of the Orient, my wife’s parting words that morning, echoed around my head.
“Elliott, don’t buy anything. You’ve already got too much junk!”
Giggles and Colonel Moeregard were safely ensconced in the office trailer handing out a flurry of bidding numbers preparing for the onslaught. TJ the auctioneer, meanwhile, was busy glad-handing the crowd, pointing out bargains one “just couldn’t do without.”
By auction time, his voice was perfectly tuned to his smooth auction patter.
Bargain Bob carefully was appraising all the hidden antiques with an inscrutable face. He obviously was looking to add to his collection, and he thoughtfully massaged his chin as he kept his other hand firmly clamped over his wallet.
Grumpy was in from Factor Lake and pointed out a “like new” chainsaw stating firmly he was going to buy it—and he did. But making such statements openly is sure to have someone else run up the bid—and they did.
I was busy flipping burgers and brewing coffee at the canteen. Business was a little slow at first with a few wise cracks about my culinary skills. But then Caroline threw on a pan of fried onions and the aroma drew in a crowd like a pack of hyenas.
At the appointed time, the PA crackled to life and the show was underway. Folks that had been wildly greeting old acquaintances just minutes earlier suddenly became morose and suspicious.
Glancing furtively left and right to see where that competitive bid was coming from.
Rudy, a perennial auction fixture, nodded at a friend—he should have known better. “Sold! For two dollars! This box of junk . . . er, I mean goodies to Rudy there.
“What’s your number?” added TJ, never missing a beat.
The sale was underway.
Although the accidental bid can be the most exciting, there is an art to bidding—winks, nods, a shrug all work. Even a vicious wave or a shouted “Yes!” work. But the more surreptitious bids are the most interesting, particularly if you don’t want anyone but the auctioneer to know you are bidding.
One lady standing by the wagon wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone, not even TJ. She’d just inconspicuously dart her hand out and gave the bottom of his pant leg a little tug. No one else knew where the bid was coming from, so were unable to gauge their competition.
This worked well, except for changing fashions. TJ has taken to wearing his trousers lower and lower on his hips. In the heat of one spirited bid, the tug on the pant leg was a little more forceful and TJ’s pants descended towards his knees.
Fortunately, his wireless headset had left his hands free and he was able to halt the descent, but not before it became evident he was wearing “tighty-whities” emblazoned with big red hearts—a real fashion statement.
But the sneakiest bid of all was the young couple standing just in front of the concession stand. Sweetness had one of Junior’s trim buns cupped lovingly in her left hand.
Ahh, young love, I thought. Why don’t they just go get a room? But then I noticed she’d give a little squeeze and up his hand would go in a bid.
Unique, no doubt, but how did he maintain his concentration?
Two lamps, a card table, and some goodies we had been using in the canteen were auctioned on the proviso they could not be claimed until we were finished serving.
The successful bidder showed up early, saying she only wanted the one lamp. I could have the rest.
Later, I proudly carried my prize in the back door. I called the Pearl.
“Look, Honey, I brought you a present. Where do you want me to put it?”
I think that might hurt.

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