On The Square

Was that a Bid or were You Just Winking at Me?

By Jaime Shearer, Pook & Pook, Inc.

Jul 10,2014 | 07:20 EDT

We have all watched the funny movie scene of the guy scratching his head only to hear a booming voice yelling “sold” with a thunderous fall of the gavel as the auctioneer points to the unsuspecting gentleman who is sheepishly sliding down in his chair. “Sir, what’s your number? Sir… Yes, you with the beet red face. I have you as the winning bidder for $15,000.”

We have all been in the crowd when these moments happen. Maybe you have been the person looking to blend in with the cupboard next to you, hoping that if you do not look the auctioneer directly in the eyes, you will not be seen and if you cannot be seen then you certainly do not have to pay $15,000 for that rusty old piece of junk unearthed from an abandoned barnyard.

From the podium, I am privileged to see all of the winks, waggles, nods, waves, and covert telepathic communications that some of our clients use to convey their bids. They range anywhere from the “Statue of Liberty” bidders, who stand frozen with number raised high until the hammer falls, to the wigglers who typically sit in the very last row while contorting the muscles in one ear to just barely twitch the lobe. But it’s hard to hide -- often, every competitive bidder a wiggler is hiding from is pointing to them every time they bid.

Every crowd also seems to have the members of the bridge club who wave madly to a friend who just walked in the front door while yelling out her name. Most of the time these “bidders” are easy to spot as they continue to frantically wave as you sell three or four lots before it dawns on them that they almost bought a Purdey shotgun, a stoneware crock, and a Tiffany vase. That moment when they finally sense that there is an auction around them, they quickly pull their hand back to their lap as if it had been submerged in a bloodied shark tank. Then they sit sheepishly, hoping that the auctioneer did not see them and execute the friendly wave as a bid on their behalf. “Ma’am, your number? Ma’am… Yes, you bought the nine foot tall nude marble statue of Plato.”

So please keep bidding, and I don’t mind if you wink