So I went.
I knew going into the event the art started at about $100. I was cool with spending a little more then I would normally spend on art because it was for a great cause. I went thinking I can spend a little over $200. I have a shot! Or so I thought...
The show had a nice set-up with art lining the walls of a small venue. Most guest were in casual nice clothing of slacks, sports jackets, and casual dress attire for the women (I had jeans and a hoody). The event was catered with snacks, wine and beer.
As I toured the paintings, wine in hand, I was pleasantly surprised by the art. Some pieces you could buy instantly, and thus, steal a gem. But most pieces were silent auction. I made my way past the He-Man original art, which Ruben was bidding on with other high spenders, and finally to Ruben's "Sleepy Hollow." It had a black laser cut frame which included a pumpkin on top. It wasn't a large piece, yet it was just about the best of show. After viewing the art I turned to view the silent auction sheet to see what I would have to bid, and that's when I saw it.
The current bid was held at $225 by Peterson. No first and last name. Just Peterson. I was in trouble. Unless this guy was Brazilian, no body goes by just one name unless they are a certain type of person. They are confident to the point of almost cocky. They sign their name as the nick name or shortened version of their name everyone in the office calls them as they walk by giving the Fonzie thumbs-up saying, "Ehhh!" They know what they want and they get what they want. Always.
As I stared at "Sleepy Hallow" I noticed a couple of good enough guys in their early 30's in nice casual suits. One fella was talking about all the pieces he bid on. He pointed at Ruben's work a few times and smiled while he proudly told his friend he was the top bidder on "Sleepy Hallow." He genuinely liked and wanted it.
A woman my age walked next to me.
"This is a problem," I said. "He has one name! How do you beat a man with one name?"
"Maybe you should place your bid with just one name," she replied.
"I should. Or maybe even just a letter. Or a number. Or a symbol...like I was the Artist formerly known as Prince. He would see the symbol and think, 'how do I beat a guy with just a symbol for a name'. Or maybe I Should sign, I will kill you if you out bid me Peterson."
The woman thought that would be my best shot. She wished me luck and moved on.
I finished my second glass of wine, took a deep breath and grabbed the pen. Dom Gazzuolo $250 I wrote in child's hand writing. I smiled, put the pen down, and stepped back. To my right I could see Peterson walking back towards the painting. Peterson and pal noticed someone had just out-bid Peterson. He looked around frantically until he stopped his gaze on me.
Eye to eye we stood for a brief moment. It felt like a life time. He knew. I knew. And just to make sure he knew...I folded my arms lifted my head high and said in a bold voice so he couldn't be mistaken,
"I've got all night Peterson!"
Startled, he grabbed for the pen and jumped my bid. He violently wrote Peterson and placed the pen down.
He made a face as if to say "there, it is done." He then gave me a smile and punched me in the shoulder like a couple of buddies just playing around. It was amazing.
I of course was playing around. I could bid no higher, and though I did not look back at how high he out-bid me, I imagine it was by a pretty good amount.
I found Ruben and complimented him on his excellent work of art and told him the brief story of Peterson. I said I tried to beat a man with one name, but like Pele, he will go down in history as a winner and a legend. Ruben thanked me for coming and for the compliments. I let him know it was my pleasure and that at the very least, I made it so Peterson ended up giving more to charity.
It's all about the children after all.
I never saw Peterson again, but I suspect he is at peace. Peterson and "Sleepy Hallow."