I had been to auctions before. My Dad enjoyed them, and it was a cheap activity to do with little kids. These were country auctions. Outdoors. At farms. There were usually wagons and trailers spread over the yard piled with boxes that themselves were piled with goods for sale.
At this particular auction, there was a wagon full of cartons that seemed to have been packed in the kitchen. There were dishes and spatulas and gadgets. One box was full of tarnished silver dishes.
I was young, maybe just a teenager. But I’d started collecting a few silver pieces.
This box had a dish that I wanted to add to my collection. It was a silver butter dish. What made it special was the lid, which was capped with a butterfly. My Dad agreed that it was pretty, and he said he’d bid on it for me.
The auctioneer circled around the wagon, selling off boxes one at a time. Then, he pointed his cane at my box. One of his assistants picked it up. The bidding was on.
My eyes shot back and forth between the box and my Dad. The assistant reached into the box and pulled out a dish and held it up for people to see. The auctioneer kept chattering, calling the next price, driving the bidding on. The assistant pulled another dish out of the box. It was the bottom of the butter dish.
My Dad looked at me. He said, “Are you sure that’s the one?” Nearly frantic, I nodded yes. He bid. The price jumped maybe twice more, and then the box was mine.
We came forward to take the box and moved off to the side so that we could look at what we bought. The butter dish, including the lid, was there.
People started coming up to us. “I didn’t realize this was the box. Would you consider selling the butterfly dish?”
No, I wouldn’t.
Inside, I was gleeful the assistant had only held up the bottom of the dish and not the lid. I was grateful that my Dad had trusted me that this was the box. I was thankful the price hadn’t gone too high (I think my Dad paid just either $20 or $50 for the box). I was excited the butterfly was mine.
I’m still all of those things.