This mom--one of them--held up the thing that was to raise funds at the fundraiser.
“That?” I said, because it was barely anything, but then she held it up to herself and it became something more..
“Consider this over what I’m wearing,” she said, and that was what the dad standing here and I did. This mom wasn’t dressed for the party. The dad and I were in jeans, both of us, but we looked better than she did with nothing extra over. I didn’t need to buy a thing like that, even if it was for the kids.
I wanted to tell the mom this: no one would have noticed the thing in a different fabric, one that anyone could see, “which is why you--you know--you love it so much.” I wanted to say, and then I would lift my cup and toast her.
“I’ve never,” she said, “seen anything like this thing.”
Around us, parents were drinking. This dad was drinking. Alcohol had been smuggled into the school, and we parents, for once in our lives, were having fun. Blocks our kids used during the week had been built into a bar. Some parents tried to knock the block bar down. The parents that liked it weren’t sure if they should.
“Nobody’s fault hers,” the bartender said, waving his glass at the principal.
“Sshhh,” the principal had told all the parents in the planning committee meaning. “Pass it on.”
On the clipboard in front of her, that mom wrote her name right down for the thing. This was called “placing a bid.” “I hope I get this thing,” the mom said, unable to unbunch it. In her fist, all together like that, the thing almost became something the dad and I could get behind.
“Don’t leave it alone,” I said. “Stay with it.”
I moved down among the other things that had been gathered from all over our city for the kids and this brick building in which they all kicked around in. I wrote my name under some of the things.
There are things about me I haven’t told anyone.
Sometimes I am mistaken for a man. My handwriting. My legs from the knees down.
My voice often gets so deep, I’ve learned to keep it low.
Because for a silent auction, everyone was being loud, and in the school cafeteria, there was a band, banding away.
How could I be expected to concentrate on these things?
How much could the kids be expected to handle if we didn’t?
Parents moved their plastic glasses to and fro under the low hanging fluorescent lights.
The trouble we could get into.
“I think I’m going to get it!” the mom called out from over there.
Soon she would know for sure.
At the block bar, the bartender switched out my last drink ticket for water. I leaned over the bar, blocks tumbling, his shirt in my hands. "Just one more," I said.