I survived my first and last dating auction. Would I say it was miserable? No - not at all. Would I say I want to do another one today slash ever? Also, no - also very no...
Here's how it all went down:
Van Diemen's bar - the scene of the big show - is located in Manhattan's infamous Murray Hill 'hood. For those familiar with that nieb' and its population, I know... For those un, think of it as a 10-block college campus except instead of classrooms and dorms it's just bars, plus everyone technically graduated 3 to 10 years ago.
I arrived to a teaming crowd of co-eds holding identical pieces of paper and staring at everyone who walked in with an uncanny "is that person for sale?" look. Immediate thoughts: who else is getting auctioned off? are their outfits cuter than mine? where am I going to have to stand? is where I'm going to have to stand going to work with my outfit?
My friend Julie was at the door with wrist-bands for drink specials (the answer is, it takes 3 vodka sodas to prepare to be sold in public) and a stack of those identical pieces of paper - an "auction items" summary featuring mini pictures and mini bios describing us bait to the masses.
It is weird to have a hundred or so people holding your picture and trying to match it with your face. It is weirder still when you overhear them saying, "that girl seem pretty good." But it is weirdest when one of them comes up to you and says, "Jessie?...good...I'm going to win you."
Now, having given obsessive thought to the intricacies of the dating auction, I decided that auction order was of primary importance. You do not want to go first. You do not want to go last. But even more importantly, you do not want to go after someone incredibly good-looking or with an obvious fan base in the audience. So in jockeying for position after a quick assess of the crowd, I decided being the second girl but third item would be best. Order: girl one, boy one, me.
8:15pm - 2 vodka sodas in - Girl One takes the stage. She's blonde, long-haired and adorable in an Anne-of-Green-Gables-takes-Manhattan sort of way. Very short, black, long-sleeved dress belted at the waist. In other words - the opposite of the girl you want to go after.
After an excruciating 5-8 minutes of MC begging ("Let's go guys! This is for Cancer!!!...research...CANCER RESEARCH!), Girl One coyly smiling (it's really hard to perfect a please-buy-me!!....but-not-you-over-there look, and me drinking an entire third vodka soda (no comment) - the biding was closed. Girl One went for an incredibly respectable $80.
At this point I contemplated falling down and getting hurt. Girl One was up there for a LONG time. Just standing there, similing-ish but mostly looking like get-me-off-this-f-ing-stage... And $80 is a LOT of dollars. I mean I planted friends in the audience, but not ones I have the money to pay 80 bones.
"How are you feeling?!" my friend Lillian asked as Girl One came down off the stage. "Not good," I said through my mini drink straw.
I'm told that Guy Two went for about $125, but I was too busy practicing standing, holding a drink, and looking amazing to pay much attention. $125 is most certainly more than I ever imaged I'd go for, but again, Guy Two was up there for a long time. Longer than I'd ever prefer to be standing in one place while a group of peers decide whether or not they want to pay money for me.
And then me. GULP.
The "stage" was actually a flight of stairs facing the crowd, so naturally I almost fell up them upon taking my position. Then the MC introduced me as being from Boston - not a crowd-pleaser (also, not true). And finally, he started the bidding at $50. Higher than Girl One at $30 and Boy One at $40. Earlier in the night I told my friend Brian (one of the saints who came to bid in case things got really ugly) that I just wanted to go for $30 - and here I was starting at the cost of a Uniqlo cashmere sweater!!! Disaster... or so I thought.
See - there are friends who will hold your hair back when you get sick - and those are really good friends. Then there are friends who will go with you to an outer borough for an obligatory birthday party - and those are great friends. But the friends who will scream "she's worth it, trust me!!!" when you take the stage, start a four-man biding war for you, drive your sale price up to $220 in three minutes, and swoop in with a $240 selling price so the guy-you-don't-know in the corner doesn't win you - those are the best friends of all.
I sold for $240 to a good friend slash co-worker (and thank god for that), but there were some hands raised in the audience as the price climbed that were most certainly not (yet) acquaintances. It's hard to mask a look of who-are-you-out-there-that-just-bid-$175-to-date-me??? I just focused on smiling, nodding and not falling down the stairs.
How do you know whether or not you succeeded in your first ever dating auction? Hard to say, but if the girl who's supposed to go after you says, "I hate you...I mean, good job," you can figure you did okay.
And re: those mystery guys with the high bids. I kindly thanked them all for their interest in purchasing me. None seemed like quite the right fit, but I did appreciate their monetary affirmation. (And word to the wise - being the almost-winner in a dating auction is a genius way to meet girls.)
In the end, it was a success for a great cause with far less pain that I imaged through my vivid nightmares for three weeks prior to the event. I just could definitely have done without the, "I thought you looked like the girl from Glee, and I totally want to bang her" confession from "Dave" who was apparently willing to pay $175 to try with me.