Everyone has a price.
All those morals in the so-called moral majority are waiting in the discount bin. Those principles are the blue-light special. All of our souls are priced to sell, and everything must go. All we ask is fair market value.
$1 million and the keys to an H2?
$10,000 and an iPod?
$100 and a used Slip ‘N Slide?
OK, $7.50 and the rest of your Capri-Sun.
I have standards, after all. Or at least I thought I did. But that was before I discovered my kinship with the crackhead from Menace II Society. You know, the guy who tries to score smack with promises of fellatio and stale cheeseburgers. I was also willing to debase myself for a surprisingly low price — with or without processed food at my bartering disposal.
Auctions will do that to you.
I should have known this simple fact before I strode into the Beaumont Club for the annual Clear Channel rock-and-roll charity auction. I had, after all, once been driven by an auctioneer to murder at least five of my close friends.
I adored Bucky, Little Bob, Anfernee, Kris (and his brother Kross). I rubbed their bellies. Brushed their hair. Trimmed their nails. Wiped their asses. Fed them. Bathed them. Loved them. And then, inevitably, some tall stranger would offer me a few hundred dollars so he could slaughter and eat them.
They never had a chance.
Granted, they were steers that I showed at the county fair for the express purpose of profiting from their demise at the end of a butcher’s knife. It was a moral conundrum, though, and I was emotionally devastated. At least until somebody cut me the check. I doubted, however, that I would kill anybody at the Beaumont — at least not anybody who wasn’t already dead inside. (This was a Clear Channel event.)
No, this was merely a chance to see what happens when you let a bunch of people with too much cash in their wallets and too much alcohol in their bloodstreams mingle with autographed music memorabilia. And it was a substantial collection to be sure: more than 100 items signed by the biggest walking pop confections to hit Kansas City in the past year.
I had allotted myself $50 to procure whatever smidge of schmaltz worthy of my company. I had my eye on a Kenny Chesney cowboy hat, a Styx model sailboat and a Linkin Park baseball bat. I could wear the hat while I smashed the boat with the bat. I’m into practical nostalgia. I figured I could pick up all three and still have change left over to buy Hearne Christopher Jr. a wine spritzer. Little did I know just how out of my league I was.
Radio personalities Johhny Dare and Tanna Guthrie opened the live auction with a signed Toby Keith picture and program. The bidding started at $100, and the items sold for $150. Then a Sting photo went for $400, the Linkin Park bat for $225, the Chesney hat for $290, an Ozzy poster for (gulp) $1,100.
I was in trouble.
A gang of off-duty cattle rustlers in black cowboy hats prowled the auction floor outing bidders with trilling shouts of “Yeeeeeeepppppp!” and “Heyyyyyyyyy!” as Guthrie rattled off the escalating price tags. A David Bowie Aladdin Sane poster: $650. A Royals jersey signed by the Dave Matthews Band: $2,000. John Mayer poster: $875. Jessica Simpson: $500. Then opportunity — in the form of Ashlee Simpson — knocked.
“$100 for the lip-syncher,” Guthrie cooed. “C’mon, who wants it — $100 for Jessica’s little sister?”
“If nothing else, it will make a really crappy Christmas gift,” Dare added helpfully.
The price soared to $175 — out of my reach. Then a small photo of Annie Lennox with a velvet curtain border went on the block. I figured it would snag $200, tops. But when the dust cleared, a curly-haired woman had bought the thing for $3,200.
Yes, I said $3,200. As in U.S. dollars — American currency, cash money — not Italian lire. For a signed photo of Annie freaking Lennox. The Eurythmics kick ass and all, but … sheesh. I hoped whoever purchased the Linkin Park Louisville Slugger would knock some sense into the woman. But I had problems of my own. Even the second-tier items in the silent auction were beyond my pocketbook. I mean, $40 for a signed copy of Ted Nugent‘s Kill It & Grill It cookbook? Come on, people.
I bid $1 on items from Cherie, Blaque, Frankie J and Eve 6. And, with an hour left in the auction, I was the high bidder. Onstage, a glossy of JC Chasez wasn’t faring much better.
“Seventy-five dollars and [‘N’Sync] goes back on tour,” Dare pleaded. “You can slip that picture out and put another one in. It’s a nice frame.”
But he had a point. Even as a Black Sabbath album cover was fetching $1,700 and an autographed Sting guitar took in the night’s top haul ($3,600), I was caught in an epic battle for Cherie, Blaque and Frankie J posters, rationalizing all along that those frames sure were nice.
And up next, we have Nathan’s dignity.
Going once … twice … sold.
The only thing worse than being outbid for Frankie J is winning the bid for Cherie. The only thing worse than that is winning two Cherie posters. Hey, what are you laughing at? She’s an up-and-comer. You’re going to see huge things from Cherie … ah, who am I kidding?
I’m a schmuck.
As I did the walk of shame up to the register to pay my $36 and slink away with double the Cherie, double the fun, I consoled myself with the knowledge that I had contributed to the $42,000 that the auction raised for the Good Samaritan Project. I had sold out for a noble cause. And there is no price tag on nobility.