Sunday, March 27, 2011

"This is for CHARITY, you assholes!" or How I Ended up Selling for Top Dollar at the Arlington Young Democrats' Date Auction

She was one of the first people I laid eyes on Wednesday night: A statuesque blonde in a purple sheath dress who bore an uncanny resemblance to perpetually cute actress Kristen Bell. Oof, I thought to myself, suddenly feeling as short and stout as the proverbial little teapot. She'll definitely be highly priced.

I was at Clarendon Grill, where, by some strange twist of fate, I found myself with a red paper heart emblazoned with my name dangling from my neck, about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. I'd gotten talked into offering up a date as a charitable donation for the Arlington Young Democrats' 10th Annual Date Auction. The proceeds of the evening were to benefit A-SPAN, aka the Arlington Street People's Assistance Network, an organization that provides support to the homeless in my county.

After spying the blonde, I kept my eyes peeled for others sporting the telltale heart, which every person up for auction wore.

The next girl I saw hit me even harder: A raven-haired beauty in a black tube top and a colorful flouncy skirt. Her arms and legs boasted long, lean muscles -- clearly a sign of hours too numerous to count logged in the gym.

Finally, the death blow: A mind-bogglingly gorgeous Asian woman with impeccably coiffed curls, whose blue mini dress hugged the impossible curves on her perfect little body, her taut legs ending in four-inch metal-studded heels.

Well, EFF ALL THAT, my brain screamed in utter defeat. These women are JUST. TOO. PRETTY.

Even worse -- they were starting the bidding at $50. Say what?!
I, who had not brought a posse to the event to drive up the bidding, would surely have a hard time finding someone willing to cough up that much cash.

I was visibly deflated when I shuffled over to the auctioneers' table to check in for the event. I felt like an idiot -- how on EARTH could I have been convinced that ANYONE would buy a date with me when the aforementioned Glamazons sauntered through the bar? If we had been a pet store, they would have been the adorable golden retriever puppies every kid wants to take home, whereas I would have been the fleabag pooch of indeterminate origin with palsy. This could only end poorly.

And yet -- a glimmer of hope:

"You'll be going last," the woman at the table told me as I signed a release form.

The placement was a gift. Time was on my side -- time enough to hatch a plan. I would not be the unadopted mutt at the end of the night. What I lacked in comparative looks, I made up for in humor and pure, unadulterated balls. I decided right then and there to plead my case to every single man in the room.

I'd run into an acquaintance of mine, Jonathan, earlier in the evening, so I started with him: "Introduce me to all of your friends."

Jonathan had been talking to a few women, so he wasn't really of any help. But there were several men milling about nearby who looked as though they'd come to the event by themselves, so I bounced over to them and introduced myself.

"So you're saving all your money for me tonight, right?"

I began brazenly flirting. I pulled out all the stops. I flipped my hair, shrugged my shoulders, batted my lashes, winked. I sent a volley of good-natured ribbing their way. I can only imagine what it looked like from an outsider's perspective (ridiculous, I'm sure).

The guys were laughing and seemed to be enjoying my company for the time being, though I wasn't sure how successful I was being in convincing them to drop cash for an entire evening with me. I decided I'd exhausted conversation there and excused myself before overstaying my welcome.

There were several pockets of guys scattered across the bar where only one man in the group was wearing a paper heart, and all other men were clearly friends who'd come to watch a pal be sold.

These groups were ripe for the picking: "What's your strategy tonight?" I'd ask the man wearing the paper heart. "How are you going to get people to spend money on you?"

It was the perfect in -- the man to be auctioned was forced to justify himself, and given the circumstances it usually resulted in some joking banter back and forth. And however he responded to my question, I would then turn to his friends and ask, "Do you think that'll work? How much money do you think this guy's gonna go for?"

Usually the friends would use that as an opportunity to insult their friend -- "Five dollars, MAX" "If he gets up there and dances, it's all over" "The only way anyone's gonna bid on him is if he PAYS them" -- which allowed me to perform more flirting and lash-batting.

Again, though, I wasn't sure how successful I was being in inspiring anyone to bid on me. I moved on to another group and tried a different tactic:

"Sexual favors for everyone who bids on me! Everyone wins!"

............ Mental note: I was at an event for the Arlington Young Democrats. Even joking about sexual favors in a room full of aspiring politicos is a BAD IDEA. That line was met with a lot of uncomfortable shifting in place from those who were facing me.

Remember your audience, Katie, I thought to myself. Remember your audience...

Then it hit me. I knew EXACTLY what would work, and it was BRILLIANT.

"Hi, I'm Katie, and I'm campaigning for myself here tonight. Let me tell you all the reasons you should bid on me."

Saying the word "campaign" in a room full of Capitol Hill interns and political junkies is like spraying catnip in a feral cat hoarder's dilapidated, ammonia-reeking house. People go NUTS. As soon as the sentence tumbled from my lips, I had instant partners-in-crime. We were finally speaking the same language.

I bounded across the room, shaking hands and smiling widely. If anyone had had a baby, I'd have kissed it and posed for pictures. The tactic was such a raging success, in fact, that at one point, a suited gentleman approached me and asked if I'd ever worked on a campaign, said they'd be hiring for the next election cycle soon and handed me his business card.


The people yet to be auctioned off were dwindling, so I made my way over to the side of the stage. Nerves began to flare in my stomach. I silently prayed that I'd done enough to merit the minimum bid.

When it was finally my turn, I hopped up on stage and took my place in between the two emcees. They both had handheld microphones, and as "merchandise" you were just supposed to linger there awkwardly as they read information about you from a flash card.

I'd filled out an info sheet early that morning in between cups of black coffee and job applications, so I barely remembered what I'd even written. When the emcees got to the part about what I would do with the winner on a date -- I'd suggested getting creative cocktails at Fruit Bat on H Street, apparently -- I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I grabbed one of the mics: "I know what my suggested date says," I intoned, "but if you bid on me, I will WASH your CAR! I will DO your DISHES! I will CLEAN your HOUSE! I will do WHATEVER YOU WANT!!! BID ON ME!!!"

Perhaps it was all my relentless campaigning, perhaps it was men who'd been outbid for their first choice, perhaps it was merely that it was the end of the night and everyone was righteously alcohol-soaked, but the bidding immediately shot up over $100. I hemmed and hawed and kept shouting "Bid on me! Bid on me!" while turning my palms up and curling my fingers in, coaxing the crowd to dig into their pockets.

First $100. Then $125. Then $150.

When my price got to $175, it hovered just a bit too long. I took the mic again.

"This is for CHARITY, you assholes!" I shouted. "C'mon, you know you want to bid higher!"

With that, someone offered $200.

The bidding finally tapped out at $250. I ended up selling for more than nearly every other woman there (I think the one woman who went higher was at about $300, and what actually was the most expensive thing was a lunch with notable politician Terry McAuliffe, which went for $700).

I was overjoyed at the results, and jumped off stage to meet the man who'd won me.

Or as it turns out, men.

You see, I was purchased by two rising stars in the Democratic Party: Ben, who writes the popular Virginia politics blog Not Larry Sabato, and Miles, an environmental activist who blogs at The Green Miles. Together, they proposed to me their date idea that Ben would take me to dinner, while Miles sat across the room and live-tweeted the action.

"Are you on Twitter?" Miles asked.

I 'fessed up immediately to being a dating blogger, the disclosure of which made Ben cringe but placed a conspiratorial grin across Miles' face.

"I suppose I should take credit for all this being a brilliant, well-thought-out scheme," Miles said, "but I legitimately had no idea Katie was Date Me, D.C.!"

Anyway, the date's slated to go down on April 2 at 8 p.m. -- that's this upcoming Saturday -- so if you'd like to tune in to watch it all go down in real time you can follow Miles or Ben on Twitter. I'll be blogging about it afterward, of course.

Also, if you're so inclined, click here to donate to A-SPAN. They give clothing, blankets and toiletries to the homeless as well as providing centers where people can shower, do laundry, and get help with finding housing or a job. They really do amazing work, and it is definitely a worthy group to support.


  1. It's been too long since post, but I will comment to cheer you up!

  2. Amazingly my first post made no sense. I meant it has been too long since your last post. Therefore, I made that comment to cheer you up. I fail at grammar and life.

  3. Damn! $250 is no chump change. Way to work the room!

  4. You go girl. Just goes to show that confidence is key! You are a baller.

  5. You mentioned job applications. I don't know if this means that you are unemployed or just seeking a different job, but perhaps you should consider being a hooker. You wouldn't even need a pimp.

  6. Wow, the last anonymous poster is a douchebag. And I totally would've bid on you.

  7. Hmmm, sounds like you pulled the old Nash Equilibrium gambit on the guys there. Well played, Katie, well played indeed. You should find a secret tweeter to live tweet the guy live tweeting your date.

  8. Impressive! I will tune into the live tweet date.

    Hahaha - way to sell yourself! (Maybe that's what Anonymous meant with the hooker comment? It's a compliment?)

  9. Having been an aspiring politico once upon a time, I'm pretty sure the uncomfortable looks resulting from a suggestion of sexual favors were merely manifestations of performance anxiety. But I could see how you might misread that.

  10. I just wanted to say thank you for describing me the way you did! I am the Asian haha and your entry really made my day. Whenever I am feeling crummy about my looks or anything I will refer back to this post =) Glad you had a good time! Good luck on your date!

  11. @future, hello, the hooker comment was a JOKE. Know what that means? Joke? Katie has a wicked sense of humor, and I'm pretty sure she got it. Lighten up, for God's sakes. I swear, some people take everything so dang seriously.

  12. I am glad you were helping out a good cause, but this date should be quite unique. I am guessing you haven't dated too many racist pedophiles before. Have fun April 2!

  13. What a fun recap of the night! Love how you figured out what would work for that audience. I was actually there for 45 minutes at the beginning of the evening. Wish we could have met, but hoping that happens soon! xoxo

  14. I would have spent all my money on you just for saying this
    ""but if you bid on me, I will WASH your CAR! I will DO your DISHES! I will CLEAN your HOUSE! I will do WHATEVER YOU WANT!!! BID ON ME!!!""

    Can't imagine how funny it would have been.


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