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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Auction Call

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

When Joel and I got married several years ago, he had never attended an estate auction.  Weirdly, he wasn’t even interested in digging through other people’s old junk! Like the good wife that I was, I immediately began conversion therapy. 

The conversion was a bit too successful, and unfortunately, Joel has become a bit of a zealot.   That Joel is now even more of an auction enthusiast than I am is surprising. The conversion was gradual – no tears, no confessions, and although I attempted a laying on of the hands, the auctioneer interpreted his response as a bid, and I thought for sure I’d lost him. 

At his first auction, he seemed almost embarrassed when I started digging through boxes on the tables.  I was well versed in auction orthodoxy, and I knew I needed to scope out the whiskey flats that may contain items on which I wanted to bid.  I admit, for the first-timer, the personal nature of sifting through cartons of bed linens, half-used cleaning supplies, and 50thanniversary commemorative plates might be a little daunting. 

Nevertheless, Joel was shaken to his core when he noticed three nearly new 50-foot extension cords piled in a corner.  Although he had recently purchased another 25-foot cord, bringing his total to 27, at that time, he only owned 19 50-footers. 

Knowing that my husband might be more open to new experiences if left to his own devices for a while, I wandered away momentarily. I got caught up in the fervor of a bidding war over some canning jars on one side of the building and didn’t realize the auctioneers had split up and started taking bids for the tools in another area.

I couldn’t believe the way three older ladies competed for those jars.  I mean - they were empty jars.  These ladies, one of whom looked to be in her 80’s and was using a walker, couldn’t possibly be planning to use them for canning.  And you can’t tell me that they were buying them for daughters or granddaughters.  I tried making homemade pickles once, and it’s not a job for Gen X-ers.  I may have a handful of friends that enjoy home preservation, but those 40 or so women are probably being pressured into it by ladies just like these.  Don’t you hate it when people take up hobbies they don’t enjoy, just to please someone else? Geesh! 

I was reunited with Joel when he approached me a bit sheepishly.  “I think I bought something,” he said breathlessly.  “I don’t know what happened to me.  It was like a powerful force took over, and I felt compelled to . . . to . . . raise my hand and bid on those extension cords.  I . . . I believe I got them all.” 

I was so happy for him.  I gave him a little hug and told him how proud I was.

“I gave $30 dollars,” he told me. 

“Oh . . . well.” I said.  You saved a little off the new price. Not bad for your first time.”

“Thirty dollars each.”  

“Um. Wow.  Well.  Ninety bucks for three extension cords.  Okay. Live and learn.”  I filed it away in my mental debit column.

After I had Joel carry the three boxes of canning jars out to the truck, we ate at the auction lunch stand.  I was trying to stick to a budget because I had gone slightly over what I should have for my purchase, and I was relieved when my sloppy Joe and homemade raisin cream pie was a bargain.

For some reason, the lady with the walker treated me very coolly when I sat down across from her at the table.  She should be thanking me for taking those dumb jars off her hands.  She obviously did not need them.  Oh well.  Some people just aren’t appreciative.  I’ll take the high road.

Any good auction stories out there?  I hope I’m not the only one that has gotten caught up in the excitement to buy old stuff.  Post your bargains or your embarrassing overbids on the “In-House with the Little Spouse” discussion on The Little Spouse on the Prairie Facebook page.

Host of Little Spouse on the Prairie, a regional comedy feature that airs Sundays at 8:35 a.m. during Weekend Edition.