I’ve had some interesting evenings at O’Brien’s before. I got drunk for the first time at that pub: Jason Brown’s big brother led us on a bar crawl, and we wound up camping out there for most of the night. He insisted we get shots of Goldschlager (and, man, am I glad the Liqueur With A Gimmick craze has passed), and, when our drinks came in fluted shot glasses with GOLDSCHLAGER written on them in gold leaf, we were captivated. “Can we buy these?” he asked. “If you buy another two rounds,” said our waitress, “I won’t tell the bouncer that you pocketed ’em.” We drank, and drank, and I swore off Gimmicky Liqueurs for the rest of my life. I was very upset when my first housemate dropped it.

But we’re talking about O’Brien’s, and Interesting Evenings. We had some Beer O’Clocks there. The gang from Team In Training (and, for all of you out there with filthy minds, and that would be most of you: yes, I know the proper acronym should be T.I.T., but we’re raising money for leukemia research, not for breast cancer. Ba-doom-doom) has started going there after Thursday swim practice to watch “Survivor,” since one of the Eastside coaches, Alex, is on. It’s a nice place with good food and cheer, and they
bartenders pour Guinness the right way.

It was also the first place I thought of when Anne and I were kicking around locations for the bachelor auction. There’s a small room in the back where bands and really bad stand-up comics play, and it’s in a good location, right at the bottom of Main Street. Parking’s usually not too tough early on a Saturday night, and there’s plenty to do once you’re done
drinking and eating.

And buying men.

The past few weeks were mad ones, calling up businesses to get them to donate dinners and lunches and horseback rides and bowling for the auction. Anne and I went through our lists, and we called People Who Knew People (yes, Fuckface, I’m looking at you. You ROCK!). We massaged our bachelors’ egos, convinced the shy ones they were gonna sell, reminded the egotistical ones that they wouldn’t get a penny if they acted like schmucks. Burke said he’d do it if I went to the gym with him; I’m a man of my word, so I went and lifted heavy objects with him for an evening. He hurt me. Badly. It’s all for the children, I told myself for a week afterward as I tried to lift my arms in order to bring my lunch to my mouth. I gave up and just used a trough.

Finally, it all came down to one night, last Saturday night, and if you weren’t there, you missed one hell of an evening.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t going into it with the right frame of mind. I was stressed. Even though we had the bachelors, the dates, the PA, the mics, the music, the buyers, I was still nervous. Would enough women show up? Would our boys rake in the cash? Would Susie the MC and I have enough material to keep everyone entertained? And…dinner? How about dinner? Am I going to have this salad done before Susie and Anne and Burke and Michel all come over? Christ, why did I buy three heads of lettuce?

And…what? Why is my crazy neighbor yelling at me again? What? What the hell are you talking about, smoke? I’ve moved my grill all the way to the other side of the back yard, lady! I’m grilling chicken! I’m a triathlete-in-training, and I need my protein! What? You’re calling the cops? Really? Fine! Bring it! I got a charity auction to run, and I’m not in the mood to deal with you or Santa Monica’s Finest! I got men to sell and peppers to roast!

Yeah. Just a little stressed. It didn’t help when we got to O’Brien’s and found that there weren’t hordes of women waiting to get in. Even a bit before 7, when we were going to open bidding, there were so few buyers that we were considering selling off 6 of our 8 guys.

But fate smiles on the insane, and a bunch more people showed up, and we filled the room. Susie and I mounted the stage, she resplendent in her blue feather boa and giant sunglasses, me in my 1970’s finest (and, man, polyester and naugahyde do *not* breathe well at all). We welcomed the crowd, and were met with cheers, applause and the first of many calls to “Take it off!”

You’ve come a long way, baby.

The highlights of the evening:
-We introduced Burke by saying that he was an honors student, an engineer, an Eagle Scout, and a youth soccer coach. And that he’d also been a stripper in Estonia. He then climbed up on the stage, resplendent in his leather pants and mesh shirt. The crowd was stunned. Yes, he got digits at the end of the night. Woot.
-Michel, my housemate, who’d been very hesitant about the whole thing, got up there and every time his bidding would slow down, I’d pass the mic and have him lay some French on the ladies. And, no, I don’t know what he said, but I’m sure it was good.
-Getting to announce that Joe was once Teen Beat “Hunk of the Month.”
-Watching Bob, very shy and quiet Bob, bring in the most cash: $400.
-Watching Dan Kruse, an old friend from high school and Mexican prison, turn around, drop trou, and make his cheeks bounce. The things you learn about your friends…
-Luis, one of the Eastside coaches, stripped down to a Speedo. Some of the other bachelors were ready to bid on him.
-Christian’s girlfriend getting into a bidding war over him. She won, and mounted him onstage.
-Jamie, our last bachelor, brought in a high price. He was also bought by Bob.

And me? Well, my voice was giving out, I was sweating like a pig, but I was having a hell of a time MCing with Susie. She had all the good lines (“Jamie has spent many years searching for the perfect donut, so he knows how to find the holes, ladies!”), and I kept upping the ante on the bids. The bidding got vicious as the night went on, probably because everyone was getting more and more loaded. “Take it off!” Carlyn, one of the TNT mentors, would scream from the back. “I need to see some cash before you can see his briefs, ladies,” I cajoled, and the bidding would shoot up another twenty bucks. I think it was very eye-opening for the men, ’cause they’d never been treated like meat before.

It was very liberating for the ladies, too. Carlyn came up to me later and said, “You know what? This is great! This is such a great age we’re living in! We women have money, we have power, and we can go out and buy men!”

“And it’s all tax deductible,” I replied.

And me? Was I sold off? Yes, of course. Did I take it off? Yes, of course. I was glad to peel out of the naugahyde jacket and polyester shirt, though I realized I was now half-naked in front of a room of screaming, drunken women. Think of the children, I told myself. It’s all for charity. I went for $275, and was bought by one of my tri club
friends, Julie. Thank God. She laughed and said, “I’ve seen you in less at swim practice.”

So, with that, we wrapped things up, and I plunked down on the nearest barstool for fish and chips and Guinness. My voice was shot, and I was crashing hard from the adrenaline rush. But Anne and I raked in an obscene amount of money, enough that I raised well over my pledged amount (which means that any more donations go right to leukemia research. Follow the link at the bottom to find how who and where to give. International
donations…well, Tom, I’m still working on that one). It felt great.

Back when we first had the idea, my friend Kate told me that she’d done a bachelor auction before, and that it’s going to feel like more work than it’s worth, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. She was right. A great time was had by all, and I’m already planning for next year.

Now, if I can only learn how to do that thing with my butt that Dan did…