Posted on 2020.09.24
My client had been invited to a fundraising event with a live auction and didn’t want to go alone.
It had been awhile since I had a black tie date, and I was very excited about it. I spent the day of the gala getting ready from head to toe as I wanted to make sure every little detail was perfect.
I had already decided that I was going to make this a night to remember.
I met my client just outside the gala and the way his eyes lit up when he saw me let me know all my efforts were worth it. We wandered through the lobby while he greeted people he knew and to inspect the items up for auction.
As he started talking shop with some associates, I wandered over to the “Sports” lot of the auction. Courtside seats for his favourite team. I turned to call him over so he knew about this item up for bid and bumped right into one of my favourite Companions. Both of us stood there for a minute, smiling at each other like we were sharing the biggest secret ever. Eventually our smiles dissolved into giggles as we tried to figure out the odds. It wasn’t uncommon to see another Cupid at a party or restaurant, but bumping into each other at a gala event? Not so much.
To be seated at the same table? Even less common! As we made our way over to our dates we agreed that we would be old classmates who hadn’t seen each other in a long time. Discretion is key in situations such as this, and we wanted to make sure that each of our dates remained feeling comfortable throughout the night. Over dinner and dessert, we shared a few stories and learned that our dates had a long-standing friendly(ish) rivalry. In the office, on the court, at the gym, it always came down to how one could outdo the other. It made me wonder, and I couldn’t help myself when I asked, “is everything a challenge?” Looking over at my fellow Companion, I could see that she was thinking the exact same thing.
I love to people watch, especially in situations like this where there is a chance to be in the spotlight. The spotlight isn’t for me, but it’s definitely a place my date enjoyed being in, and tonight was no exception. He fully expected to be the “big” donor for the evening, and started out bidding on almost every prize lot that came out. But someone would outbid him and he would have to start the process all over again. Looking over at my fellow Companion’s date, I could see that he also liked the spotlight, but was the kind of person to take the spotlight in a different way. I watched him watch my date and could see what he had planned to do: let him get high enough on bidding and swoop in with the dramatic big bid to close out everyone. He would see what my date bid on and watched to see where he’d give up. If my date was a hustler, his friend was a player; to know the difference is the difference between winning and losing.
Finally, it was time for the sporting event items to come up. I leaned in and whispered to my date to relax on bidding for a bit. I told him about the courtside seats and that he should conserve his energy for that item. Two more items were up for auction and then, it was showtime.
I hadn’t gotten a chance to read the entire description of the prize lot and missed the part that this particular prize included a meet and greet after the game. Sensing my date’s excitement, I placed my hand on top of his and gave a gentle squeeze. This was going to be a slow build and there was no need to rush. Looking over at my fellow Companion, I realized that she was prepping her date for the same big finish. Turned out we were part of the competition after all.
While others enthusiastically bid fast and quick, we waited. As expected, there were people who could only go so far and had to drop out. But now, it became a question of which man would swoop in first. I watched the player, the player watched my date and my date watched the podium.
Finally we were down to three other bidders. My date looked over at me expectantly, asking permission to pull the trigger and I gave him a slight shake of the head as if to say, “not yet”. That’s all the player needed, and he was the one to bid first. In a surprise move, he bid more conservatively than I expected him to, but it was still enough to have two other bidders drop out. Now that I had him thinking it was down to just him and this stranger, I could tell he thought he had it in the bag. The stranger placed an incremental bid, letting me know he was almost out, and that’s when I gave my date’s arm a gentle squeeze, and let him loose.
The player could barely contain his shock. Where did THIS come from? A small ripple of applause went through the crowd as people realized the game had changed. The stranger dropped out and now all eyes were on the player to make the next bid. He did. A larger one.
All eyes were now on my date; the spotlight was his. Just as I had expected, he placed a bid thousands of dollars higher than the player’s last bid and won the coveted prize. Flush with victory, I could see he won a lot more than tickets and a meet n’ greet; he finally beat his rival at his own game. As he walked up to the podium for the photo opp, the player leaned across and said, “good game.” I smiled in response and he continued, “he’s never been able to outbid me. Always blows his wad too early. I saw what you did, holding him back. I admire your technique.”
Smiling at my fellow Companion, I stood up to make a graceful exit. As my date returned, I suggested that we leave on high note and continue our evening elsewhere to celebrate his big win. I have to admit, I was on a bit of a winner’s high as well and I didn’t feel like sharing it with anyone but my date. We said our goodbyes and celebrated that my hustler had become the player.
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