It was a good evening, that pig roast last Friday at the Rustic Pine. People were in a great mood.
That woman who got so angry when I touched her bumper while parking gave me a hug and a big smile and forgave me. A couple we haven’t seen in ages caught us up with their news, and I met someone new who’s just moved to town.
But above all, we helped Reggie with his medical bills.
I don’t believe I’ve ever met Reggie. But we had heard about his shocking injury. Maybe lots of other people who were there also don’t actually know him. That’s the point.
If I’ve learned one thing about Dubois, it’s this: If someone is in crisis, we’re supposed to do something about it.
The announcement in the tavern said “benefit,” but it also said “celebration party.” And it lived up to its billing.
The side room at the tavern was packed with townsfolk an hour after Happy Hour ended, and the mood was fairly giddy. A long food line formed behind the roasted pig. The high rafters echoed with chatter.
As we finished our meals, auctioneer Jim began his patter. Our good friend John barked out and pointed at the bidders raising their hands. My husband snared a fishing rod. I won a therapeutic massage.
Some items went for fairly ridiculous prices, considering their actual worth. Someone bid on and won a backpack, and then turned it back to be auctioned all over again. Bidders paid well above retail value for pecan pie and brownies from Julie’s bakery.
People laughed and whooped as the prices reached well into 3 figures for a framed wildlife photograph or a necklace. It was way too crowded and noisy to know who was winning what. But we hoped for the bids to rise and rise, driving down the burden of debt for Reggie and his family.
Suddenly I flashed back to a private-school benefit auction I attended once in a hotel ballroom in Manhattan, as a favor for someone. The room was hushed as bids rose to 5 figures for a stay in someone’s country home, say, or a private backstage tour. The competition, all too obviously, was not for the items themselves but for the claim to the fattest wallet.
Years ago, before we bought our house in Dubois, we spent a few days here evaluating the town as a place to settle in rather than just visit over and over. That weekend, I saw posters for a fund-raiser to help a young mother who needed a transplant. This wasn’t an appeal to pay her medical costs, but to allow her family to stay nearby during the far-away operation and recovery.
I saw that as a sign of the town’s character, and it was. These cheery, spontaneous charity events in Dubois aren’t even very remarkable. They’re typical.
© Lois Wingerson, 2016
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