Monday, March 14, 2005

Hormones, Alcohol and Adrenalin

I attended a fascinating auction over the weekend, which raised funds for my daughter's Montessori school. There was a paid dinner for parents (no kids) and both silient and directed auctions. The material auction took two forms: items/services donated by local businesses and items hand-made by the children with help from moms. The latter caused some of the most interesting social behavior I have seen in a while.

A wet bar sucked in drink tickets before the bidding. Smart move. Everyone had the opportunity to view the items beforehand. Many of the mothers present had helped create the hand-made items. Estrogen flowed across the floor too deep to wade across.

A husband and wife were seated to my left. The wife wanted a quilt with her daughter's classmates' names on it so badly she could taste it. The husband became more nervous as his wife pushed the bids higher. She was on the edge of her seat and, as the bidding went North of $300 it was obvious she didn't plan to stop. She bought the item for $325. Five minutes later, during bidding for a replica quilt from a different classroom, the woman was relaxed and chatting comfortably. Why? Because she knew that quilt was worthless. It didn't have her daughter's name on it. The same scenario played out with flower pots, garden benches and bookcases painted in handprints.

Last year's auction raised $17,000. I didn't ask about this year. The $80 bird house and $300 cookbook told the whole story.

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