When I approached the octagon at my daughter’s sorority fundraising gala, it was an especially uncomfortable moment. The fact that my opponent was a middle-aged woman wearing an evening gown made this especially so.
Let me explain.
My daughter is a freshman at Oregon State University – home of the Beavers. Motto: “Dam Right I’m a Beaver!” Also, “We don’t give a dam!” And so forth, and so on, with the “dam” comments. Anyway, she recently pledged a sorority, which for the purposes of this column, I will refer to as “Alpha Phi,” because the name of the sorority is Alpha Phi. (Side note, the “Phi” is not pronounced “fi,” as in “pie,” as you might expect by employing rules of normal English, but rather, “fee.” So it’s “Alpha-Fee.” Yeah, it’s irritating.)
One of the first sorority events of the year is the Red Dress Gala. All the girls wear bright red dresses. The event unceremoniously begins with all the girls attacking the buffet station like the marines hitting the beach at Normandy. This is followed by the “guests” (code for dutiful parents) wandering up to see whether the girls have carelessly missed a crumb or two among the buffet tables. Answer: No. (These girls were as thorough as Hoover vacuums.) Now, while some may take my very true description of this event as criticism, please note that anyone familiar with the circumference of my belly, will understand that I owe these girls a debt of gratitude. That, plus they were kind enough to begin serving alcohol at 11 a.m.
Anyway, back to the cage fight.
The gala included a silent auction. Mostly themed baskets. But among them were three bidding sheets for a private parking spot next to the sorority. One for each school term – fall, winter and spring. The sorority has very little parking, so this parking space is a coveted auction item. I wrote down a bid on fall and spring, but winter was already getting pretty steep, and my cheapskate DNA prevented me from initially placing a bid. After walking away, however, and reflecting on my many, and well known, failings as a father, I ventured back and wrote down a bid. This is when I noticed a woman, not so subtly, standing guard next to it. She immediately swooped in (actually, she just leaned over – she was practically standing on it), and wrote down a greater bid. Then she looked up at me and announced that she had been the FIRST person to bid on the item.
I walked away, and figured I’d swing back later when the countdown began.
At the three-minute warning, I walked back over. Standing at the bidding station was the same woman. Only she was now holding the bidding sheet for the winter term parking spot. She had apparently decided that her last bid would, de facto, be the final and winning bid. I smiled and reached over to take hold of the edge of the paper. She hung on and flashed me that look that Hillary gets when someone mentions Monica. I gave the sheet a slight tug, and she finally released it. I wrote down my new bid, and not surprisingly, she immediately snatched the paper back and wrote another bid. A final thirty second announcement came across the speaker, and I considered, but only for a moment whether I wanted to find out how she would react if I were writing down the top bid when time was announced. This is when I decided to employ one of my life philosophies: “When you encounter an insane person, don’t walk away, run.” I turned and got the H-E-double toothpicks out of there. I may someday enter the octagon, but not this day, and not with this crazy lady. Frankly, I think I made a dam good decision.