An auction is my kind of bargain
By Lisa Smartt
Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 8:01 pm
There’s nothing like a good Southern auction. During the last year, my family and I have been privileged to go to some wonderful auctions here in West Tennessee. It’s been a rewarding and fun experience every time. For those of you who’ve never been to local auctions, allow me to fill you in.
The first rule of an auction is that your children are going to need $10 each for concessions. Nobody’s hungry until they smell the burgers and hot dogs and see all the other fortunate children carrying around bags of chips bought at the concession stand. To combat this kind of peer pressure the following speech should be delivered to your children as soon as you get to the auction: “Look, you can’t be physically hungry. It’s only 10:15 a.m. And that little kid you see holding a double cheeseburger, eating Cheetos and drinking a super size Coke is here with a woman in her 60s. I think it’s quite probable that she goes by the name ‘Grandma.’ When a child comes to an auction with Grandma, it’s likely they’ll be hitting the concession stand a little earlier and a little more frequently than those of you who are cursed to be here with your regular parents.”
The second rule is that you need to keep your children with you at all times. If they wander off, be careful how you gesture for them to come to you. One angry hand wave and you can unknowingly end up with a set of ceramic unicorns.
The third rule is that you need to find an older tastefully dressed woman to sit by. She’ll help you know what’s worth something and what’s not. I know nothing about glassware, china patterns or antique furniture. When I say I know nothing about them, I mean nothing. I went to an auction once where I saw a lovely little dresser I wanted to buy. I decided I would loosen the ol’ wallet and be willing to lay out a cool $100 for said item. It sold for over $1,000. When I looked with amazement at my tastefully dressed friend, she whispered in my ear, “Darlin’, that’s over 100 years old.” Oh. I had no clue. I thought it was cool that it had a little mirror on it near the floor. I was told the mirror was designed to see if the petticoats were straight. OK. I’ll not be applying for a job at an antique store.
The fourth and final rule to auctioning is the hardest one to follow. Don’t get too caught up in the competitive nature of the beast. An auction comes alive when two competitive participants enjoy a friendly bidding war over the Santa Claus soup bowls or the brass elephant set. Not getting caught up in the competition of the event is particularly hard for my type A son. He’ll say, “Oh, Mom, if you kept holding your hand up you would have WON that!!” Yeah. I would have won it alright. I would have ended up paying $18 for the squirrel salt and pepper shakers. Even a novice like me knows that squirrel salt and pepper shakers aren’t worth more than $17.
Auctions are a wonderful learning experience. Where else can your children learn math, capitalism and patience all in the same day? The fact that all those lessons can be served up with a burger and a dill pickle ... well, that’s just icing on the cake.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website lisasmartt.com.
Published in The Messenger 6.22.11