The bad karaoke and somewhat suggestive dancing with another district mom shouldn’t come back to haunt me. Except that everyone in this Wonder Bread town has a smartphone. Well at least we raised some money “for the children” (starts humming..”we are the world….we are the children”….sorry, maybe).
Planning an event is a solid pain in the ass. Even the well-meaning helpers can be a drag when they get on board at the last minute. The community really pulls through with silent auction donations which is great. The problem is when they get donated at the last minute. You have to scramble to pick up them up on an already over-scheduled day and then you have to find display space.
Sheila lets me know the night before the event that she wants to donate a decorative plate to the silent auction. She also wants a ticket to the event that’s been sold out for weeks. Sure Sheila, no problem (I want to make t-shirts that say “Sure, Sheila” and we’ll be the only ones who know what that means, like our secret handshake, except it’s a shirt). The donation had a high-end price tag, but was likely mass produced in a factory with a plethora of human rights violations.
I get Sheila’s address Saturday morning. She lives on a private road which is the stuff of nightmares. It’s anorexic and is flanked with thorny hedges that are overgrown and spill over onto the road. The kind of vegetation that aches to destroy whatever comes in contact. I put that thought on the back burner as I pull over and run in to grab the donation.
I went there after a rigorous cardio class as it was the only time I could go. Let me just mention that I sweat profusely when I work out, so I’m a bit of a mess when I arrive. My hair is a matted ponytail under my hat and I stink. I’m in urgent need of a shower and I do not wish to socialize.
Sheila greets me at the door and I thank her for the donation. “Thanks so much, I’ll just grab it and get out of your way,” I say hopeful for a quick exit. Instead of running out the door I get offered coffee, a danish and I’m walked into the dinning area. This is starting to drag on.
It took me a bit to realize what was happening, probably because I had six hours worth of things to do in a two-hour window. I was going through my mental checklist when Sheila started pitching for her multi-level marketing company. This house is a showroom for those damn plates. I’m not sure if she is an employee or a disciple.
She’s describing the snob appeal of the MLM brand while I’m standing in sweaty gym clothes I purchased at Target six years ago. My entire outfit including my sneakers cost less than one of those overpriced plates. My sneakers are older than her youngest kid and she’s in middle school.
“You meet so many interesting people,” Sheila drawls as I instantly flashback to Bugs Bunny giving Gossamer a manicure. “I’m sure you do”, I reply as my eyes begin to glaze.
My brain shuts off whenever I come in contact with cults. Fight or flight kicked in. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw the plate on a buffet server to my right.
“Oh is this it?” I asked as I slowly back myself toward the plate while maintaining eye contact and nodding my head politely.
“Yes, isn’t it spectacular!” Sheila exclaims.
“It’s lovely” I say as I pick it up. I rarely use the word “lovely,” it’s just too civilized for me (unless it has a curse in front of it like an angry verb and it’s dripping in sarcasm – “Oh, isn’t that f*cking lovely”). I then grab the plate and stammer “thanks a bunch” as I let myself out with a fast walk that is more like a jog.
I got to my car only to realize that I would need to do a K turn to get myself turned around to avoid backing out of the angry suburban jungle that flanks the lane. I started the car with Sheila going through her spiel from her front porch “If I sell $718. worth by midnight I get entered into a contest for the French Impressionists Series!” as I feverishly try to turn my car around.
“How exciting!” I reply, while frantically turning my wheel in alternating opposite directions, yielding 10-inch bouts of progress with steering that can only be described as desperate. Sweat was stinging my eyes as Sheila drones on endlessly about how the owner of the company is just like us – “A gay man, lives in Rome, adopted twelve kids and travels on a private jet.” So similar, I think to myself, except I’m not fifty yet, b*tch (I have since turned fifty, sigh).
Sheila offers to back up my car, which has an interior that makes it a candidate for a Superfund Site. I thank her and decline. I don’t want her to know I’m a colossal car slob, I just want to leave. Eleven agonizing minutes later (with Sheila watching the ENTIRE time) I finally get myself pointed in the right direction.
“Bye Sheila, see you tonight,” I smile and wave on the way out. Then I instantly think of the Penguins from Madagascar – “Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.”