A Perfect Home for Jazz

jazzHave you ever done something completely out of character? When even as you’re proceeding there is a part of you thinking I can’t believe I’m doing this? For the first time in my life I bid on something at a live auction, and without hesitation, I may add.  I hung in there as the bidding and counter-bidding escalated back and forth bidding until I actually won it. What was it? you may ask….a jazz quartet!

Here is how my little adventure unfolded. While attending a sweetheart casino fundraiser event in February, I was sipping on a glass of wine and curiously perusing the various items to be auctioned. I have occasionally bid on silent auction items at other events, and did enjoy the slight thrill of countering bids on paper. Live auctions, however, are another matter entirely and I have always been too timid to engage in the very public, and often exciting, competition for what are typically much larger purchases.  As I read the description of the Cumberland School of Jazz quartet’s offer to play at an event of the bidders choosing, a quick and subtle thought ran through my brain, that would be fun. But this thought was followed by an equally rapid mental dismissal; you can’t do that. You can’t buy a band……what would you do with it? I shook my head and continued to check out the other auction items and put it out of my mind.

Later in the evening, however, when the live auction was underway, I sat as a spectator ready to enjoy a show. The auctioneer was entertaining as his rolling voice rapidly encouraged the audience to bid and counter-bid against one another. His friendly banter and skillful mastery of the babble was aimed to help us dig deep in our pockets for a good cause; in this case it was for a children’s museum. The thought of the jazz quartet had slipped my mind and I was happy to just watch the performance before me.

I enjoy watching people and was fascinated by the behaviors I saw around me. While the auctioneer expertly guided a variety of bidders through the public process of buying anything from old coins to beautiful art, I observed the audience members. Most were like me; sitting back and watching.  A few, however, were more agitated, fidgeting with their paddles and glancing around the room, obviously getting ready to make their move. I could tell these were the potential bidders. When it came time to make their intentions known, some did it tentatively, raising their paddles just a little, while others were bold and decisive, extending their arms fully to raise their paddles high in a determined effort to win the object of their desires.

I continued watching through several rounds of bidding, lulled by the melodious flow of the auctioneer’s voice. My ears perked up, however, when I heard the auctioneer describe the jazz quartet offer. I looked around the room and silently urged others to bid on it. For some reason, I wanted it to find a good home; a perfect fit for this unusual proposition. As the auctioneer began the bidding, my stomach sunk when I saw that no one raised their paddles. Seeing the lack of interest, the auctioneer quickly dropped the starting price and, taking a deep breath, renewed his vocal effort to engage a bidder. And then…. I did it! I don’t know if it was because I felt sorry for him or felt sorry for the four musicians, but before I knew what I was doing, I impulsively grabbed my paddle and raised it in the air. I felt a thrill of excitement as the auctioneer turned and pointed his finger at me and exclaimed, “Yes! $75 for the lady in black.” The bidding then started as someone else in the audience decided they wanted it as well. We countered back and forth, increasing the value and the tension. Who would win? With each escalation of the price, I would think momentarily before choosing to continue. My decision was made easier by the opportunity to use the tickets I had won in the casino games towards attaining this prize, and others in my group tossed in their tickets as well. And behold, I topped the evening off by winning a jazz quartet! My face glowed with the rush and momentary intoxication of triumph. I had it!

As I turned to face my companions, I could see the glow in their faces as well and knew they, too, had been caught up in the excitement.  My sister Ellen said, “That was exciting! Now what are you going to do with it?” Still feeling full of my accomplishment and rather cavalier, I said, “I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll figure that out.”  Confident in my victory, I actually had no idea whatsoever as to what I would do with my impulsive purchase. Nevertheless, I closed the deal and took my certificate home at the end of the night.

I toyed with various scenarios in my mind and considered whether I wanted to add jazz to an upcoming occasion, or create an event entirely around it. I imagined renting a beautiful venue and having a classy affair. My sweetheart, Greg, suggested I use it for my book debut later this summer. Even though I liked that idea, it soon became clear that it would best be used in the upcoming nuptials for my nephew’s wedding.

The perfect home for it turned out to be my home; a jazzy couple’s wedding shower on the patio to celebrate love and new beginnings. What could be better than that?


Carol deLaski Hayes is an author, speaker, and coach. You can contact her at [email protected]