Shooter gets dressed up to go to the ball.
Swede and I spent a wonderful night at the Hilton of the Americas in Downtown Houston on Friday. She had a hand in preparing marketing materials and other sundry items for a major children's charity fundraiser. As a reward for her efforts, the co-presidents of the fundraiser, a co-worker and his wife, invited us to spend the evening at this black tie affair. They graciously invited us to sit at the president's table for dinner and put us up for the night in a beautiful hotel room.
I had to drop all reservations about this event when I walked through the door Friday night. I was told "Black Tie" and had dismal thoughts about old geezers and their martini soaked third wives drooling over the twice baked chicken kiev and wilted vegetables. Drinks would be watered down and the bar would be cash only. WRONG!
The theme for the evening was Dr. Suess, and everything was done up right from the Green Eggs and Ham centerpieces to the Red Fish and Blue Fish Martinis. One of the sponsors was a candy store and had plenty of freebies for the adults turned kiddies. They even hired a Cat in the Hat and two young kids to play the parts of Thing 1 and Thing 2. The spread was very lavish. Choices ranged from prime cut roast beef and turkey to asian fare. I guess no expense was spared. Another donor/sponsor provided all the top shelf you could drown your liver in. Swede spent the better part sampling all the martini flavors and I was immersed in several glasses of Dewars on the rocks.
There was a silent and a live auction to raise funds for the several childrens charities this group raises money for. One item that got all the ladies in a collective panty twist was the 6-week old chocolate lab puppy. AKC and all the shots, too. $4500 was a bit rich for our blood, and Swede was gushing all over this pup. I could tell this was not the pick of the litter and was more than likely the runt. Chances are, it will be a family dog and not a great hunter no matter how hard the new owners try to train it. The highest dollar item was a trip, all expenses paid, to tour South Africa.
Swede and I had more fun with the silent auction. We were looking to win something and take the write off to help our tax refund. This year's bite from my ass guarantees I will be doing more to get a hefty check back from .gov. As much as I begged and pleaded, she would not let me bid on the Lance Armstrong jersey. This thing didn't even have a starting bid ($1,800). It was framed beautifully in a mahogany frame with a photo of Lance on the podium, a commemorative TdF pin, the headstamp off one of his bikes and the jersey...signed. Swede knows I am a huge Lance fan. As far as cycling goes, he is a gawd among men. Untouchable in my book.
She still wouldn't let me bid on the jersey.
She was afraid I'd crack the frame open and try the jersey on.
She's right. I would.
There was a bunch of other sports memorabilia, too. A signed piece of the Green Monster. Autographed photos, gloves and jerseys by the likes of Roger Maris, "the Mick", Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan. I was more impressed with our first winning item of the night. It was called "Boys Night Out" and consisted of 5 top shelf bourbons, ten premier cigars (cigars I'd never consider buying unless I won the lottery) and a poker chip and card set. We also have a date to take a cooking class with a couple of our friends. This is very neat. We have a private class with a top Houston chef to learn to cook some great dishes and get a cookbook and dinner out of the deal. Swede and I agree that this is a great start to our charitable giving this year.
My biggest fear was that this event turn into one big "I'm richer than thou" pissing contest to see who'd be the first with their photo in the society pages. I was pleasantly surprised to see a bunch of thirty-somethings getting their first taste of charity balls and societal gatherings. For the most part, it looked just like the frat/sorority keggers I went to in college...with tuxedos. There were a smattering of middle aged bimbos and trophy wives three kids into their marriages to guys named Brock and Chase. They were clearly loosing the war against gravity and wrinkles, but doing everything they could to believe they were still in their twenties. That included drinking. I did see a lot of women gathered in groups going, "Ohmygawed, Becky, would you look at her butt? It is sooo big!"
For every group of girls I saw digging on others, I did see quite a few well mannered folks enjoying themselves. Apparently, there were a few parents who raised their kids just right. The guys were just as bad palling around and playing more polite games of grab ass. I noticed quite a few married and unmarried knuckle dragging males oogling and drooling over some of the more attractive of the femme species. Hell, I was very guilty of that pleasure, too. There were quite a few C cups worth a second look...Swede, too.
I guess that whole frat party ambiance had a negative effect on my expierence. As it turned out, this is one of those entry-level charity events for young up and comers to get their toes wet. They are pretty muched ordered to attend under pain of death and a tease of junior partner if they win a live auction item. There were just enough old fuddy duddies to make me think they were the bosses in place to report back to the higher ups about the kids' behavior. This was the training ground for future socialites and charity hob-nobbers.
I just relaxed and took it all in. It was a great night watching people and how they interact with each other. I see different forms of interaction on a daily basis as part of my job and part of my social life. I felt like I was in my own personal human aquarium. What made the night more enjoyable from a social experiment standpoint was the attempt by some young kids to gate-crash the event. Apparently there was some big, high falutin' Anime and Manga convention next door at the GRB. No disrespect to gamers, anime and manga fans here, but WOW! What a wierd bunch you are. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever see a collection of freaks and geeks. Grown men even wearing cat ears and toting giant cardboard swords. I give you mad credit and points for the costumes, though.
It was hilarious to watch a group of young anime conventioneers top the escalator and try to get past the security while some cocktail dress clad miss and her hubby were trotting off to the valet to pick up their carbon debit SUV Porsche. Hate to say it honey, but your cute and cuddly lil' toddler is being baby sat by one of those animal tail wearing freaks staring back at you.
We had fun. Enjoyed the company of some of Swede's co-workers, danced the night away, drank some good top shelf and relaxed in the luxury of a plush hotel room. I would do it again in a minute.
Actually, I would do it again in a second just to outbid the one granny of the group. This one grandma was a silent auction vulture. She stood ten feet from a row of custom made jewelry (I was bidding against her for a nice garnet and sterling necklace) and topped any bid that was placed by anyone else. I only caught this on my last pass by that table and was laughing all the way back to the dance floor. Others were too oblivious to catch on to her game. I gave up the bid on that necklace after I caught on to her. She reminded me of one of those old biddies you see at the bingo parlor with an ink stamp in one hand and a Pall Mall dangling from her lip as she scans the numbers for G-22.
Against my better judgement, I had a really good time. I'll let Swede think I wished I was elsewhere.