I've never been to a charity date auction -- I'm not that kind of guy who would patronize such an event."And yes, Virginia, I'm now sold!"
So when I received an evite to attend a date auction, I quickly dismissed it and vowed not to attend.
But after some time, the idea started eating at me. I like to try just about everything (that's legal and moral, that is) once and also believe in challenging my preconceived notions. After all, I do not have the right to have an opinion, if I've never experienced it myself, right?
|Jitegemee's founder, Farah Stockman|
The Charity date auction was for a very honorable cause: Jitegemee (Swahili for "Sustain yourself"). The non profit is dedicated to providing street children in Kenya with formal and vocational education. All money raised from the auction would directly support the construction of a new environmentally-sustainable school.
So what surprised me more was that I actually found the courage to go (with some qualifiers of course). I would attend, socialize and pay the $20 admission fee -- that would be the extent of my support. And yes, I got all dressed up.
Also, I came to see an old friend, Farah. Well back in the days when I worked in the Pentagon, she was more like my bane. But I always considered her a professional who asked the tough questions and wanted to report the full story. Before she worked for the Boston Globe, she taught in Kenya for a few years. It was there where she started writing, and she also was recognized for the coverage of the Rwandan Genocide. Before she left, she founded the non profit Jitegemee and tonight she would be auctioned off. It would be fun to see how much she goes for. That would make an interesting story. She owes me one for the tough interview she gave me eons ago.
Upon arriving at the K Street Lounge in NW DC, something immediately struck me. The women outnumbered the men almost 2 to 1. All the women being auctioned off were not just intelligent but also beautiful, and everyone seemed quite friendly.
After a few beers and inquisitive conversations, I started to slowly catch on.
I decided I would bid after all, but set a ceiling of $100. I wouldn't budge. I knew it wouldn't get me a date, but that was my absolute limit based on my budget.
I turned around to talk to my friend, Charles, who also had not come to bid (it seemed half the men were that way -- either they were married, not interested or too cheap) That was when I caught her eye: "Miss World -- Bachelorette #7."
"Hi Lucky Seven."
"Nice to meet you."
"So, where are you from?"
Here's Number Seven's bio:
|Miss World 2010: Afghanistan this month, Burkina Faso next, this Jakarta-raised bachelorette is full of surprises, including having a Californian accent.|
Working for an international development firm, this part-time MBA student has visited many exotic locales. But, D.C. is near and dear to this bachelorette's heart. When stateside, you can find her hanging out with friends, visiting various festivals around the city or attending an event hosted by the Smithsonian. She's a music aficionado, an ideal date for you, and a date with her may include dinner followed by a concert at a local hot spot.
Meeting this attractive, sophisticated woman who like me is an MBA student and also loves the Smithsonian Museum made me throw out the whole concept of limits.
I would now bid on her, but hope, I wouldn't face too stiff of a competition, to raise the price.
I didn't want to walk out of here, smiling that I won a date, but crying that it broke the bank. At this time, I realized, I needed another beer to calm my nerves. It did the trick but it also lowered my inhibitions.
The bidding started at $100. I raised my hand.
$125: a gentleman by the bar raised his.
$150: I raised my hand. $175: There was now a bidding war between the two of us -- he looked rich and debonair. I looked rugged but determined.
$200: This time, one of the bachelors stepped down from the stage and raised his hand. There was no way he could win, so he was just bidding up the price.
$225: Pregnant pause. I looked to see whether my bid rival would put up a long, protracted fight. He showed intent, but lucky for me, he may have been focused on getting a refill at the bar.
I hollered and raised my hand, doing a one-handed basketball dunk.
The announcer acknowledged and yelled $250.
Another long silence. I glanced nervously at the man in the bar. My rival had thrown in the towel. I grimaced in joy.
I raised both hands up high and cheered in spirited celebration. For $225, I get a date with a very sophisticated and attractive woman, two tickets to the Spy Museum and a $75 dinner certificate at Poste (Moderne Brasserie). Oh did I mention the tax write off? Viva la France! Can't wait 'till next year.
BTW, the auction raised more than $12,000 enough to build a set of new classrooms for street children in Kenya. I'll be celebrating this achievement while I drink cocktails with date in Postes.
And yes, Virginia, I'm now sold!
Click here to read what happened on the date