In April of 1988, I got the phone call that changed my life.
The caller was Donna, a nice woman who handled public relations for a local charity. She had a simple request: “We’re having a fundraiser, and I was hoping you could help.”
I figured she simply needed some publicity. Not a problem. I could easily knock out a story. “Sure, what do you need?”
“Well, we’re having a bachelor auction. And I know you’re single –“
The color drained from my face.
Two things immediately came to mind. The TV show LA Law had aired an episode in which Arnie Becker was bought at a bachelor auction and ended up being taken hostage. And since I’m not exactly Robert Redford, the image of me standing in front of a bunch of women and not having anyone bid filled my head.
“I’ll do anything you need, but not that.”
“Well, I need an emcee.”
“Fine, you’ve got an emcee.”
The night of the auction arrived and there was a cocktail hour before the men would be put up for bids. It was a chance for the women who would be bidding to meet the guys. I wandered around the room chatting with some people. Then I found myself face to face with a beautiful redhead. She smiled and introduced herself, saying that we had a mutual friend. Turns out one of the producers at my TV station was a member of her church choir in which she sang.
We talked for a while. I found out she was a math teacher (which checked off my “I only date smart women” box) and that she had been dragged kicking and screaming to the event by her sister, who was helping to get women to attend. For whatever reason, I felt very comfortable with the redhead, who had these spectacular eyes that seemed to look right into my soul. I did something I never did after meeting a woman for ten minutes, especially with one who was way out of my league. But I felt a connection. “You wanna grab dinner after this thing?”
I noted it was time for the auction to start. “Okay. I’ll see you when we’re done.”
As I walked toward the stage I couldn’t help but wonder. What do I do if she buys a bachelor?
Donna had managed to get a bunch of young, attractive single men to be auctioned, and a bunch of them were Navy pilots from Pensacola. One would think that brave men who fly jets at the speed of sound and aspire to be Blue Angels wouldn’t be afraid of anything.
One would be wrong.
I’ve never seen members of the military look so terrified as when they saw the room full of women. The gals were already hooting and hollering as I introduced the first guy who was up for bid. Some of the men had gone pale and were sweating. Apparently, the prospect of going off to war isn’t as scary as being bought by a single woman. After each introduction, I handed the microphone off to an actual auctioneer. The winning bidder would receive dinner for two and a movie with the bachelor.
As the auction rolled on, things got a bit wild, as a woman dressed head to toe in sprayed-on blue spandex would stand up and yell at each bachelor. “Make him turn around! I wanna see his butt!” I wondered if this is what happens at Chippendales shows. But she wasn’t bidding. At one point I paused the auction. “I’d like to ask the shy, demure woman in the blue outfit … are you actually going to bid on anyone?” Amazingly, she never did.
Another woman bought three bachelors. And a woman in her fifties made the winning bid on a guy at least 25 years younger. She said, “I got me a hunk o’ man!” The guy looked like he was headed for a firing squad.
As the auction continued I kept my eye on the redhead, hoping she wouldn’t bid on anyone. Don’t bid. Please don’t bid. Thankfully she didn’t. So after the auction, we went to dinner.
Thirty-four years later, I’m proud to call her my wife.
Randy Tatano lives in Brewton and is the author of more than 20 novels, writing political thrillers under the pen name Nick Harlow and romantic comedies as Nic Tatano. He spent 30 years working in television news as a local affiliate reporter and network field producer. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.