Sunday, July 31, 2005


I went to an auction yesterday up at McLernon’s, in which they were disposing of the contents of the defunct Lone Star restaurant franchise. I was there to try and buy a moose head, because… well, moose head! Moose head, people! If I have to explain the appeal then I’m sorry, but there’s an impossibly wide gulf between us.

Unfortunately moose heads are more popular that I’d imagined, and the cheapest one went for more than $7,000. At that price, as I said to a friend who was there with me, it’d be cheaper to buy Canada and then take your pick.

The crowd was a fascinating and almost unprecedented blend, an uneven mix of bogun bikers in Harley Davidson T-shirts and too many tattoos and groovy urban hipsters in vintage shirts and ornate sideburns. Some of the more interesting members of the group included:

- A middle-aged man who could apparently afford to spend $25,000 on three stuffed bison heads, but bought his clothes from Target. And I’m not exaggerating there; I was behind him and could see the tags peeping out.

- A fat woman rebelliously wearing horizontal stripes, who laughed like a hysterical seagull at anything and everything, be it a witticism by the auctioneer or the knocking down of a particularly high bid. Fortunately she soon discovered the catering van and put her mouth to quieter use.

- An old Mediterranean woman with fine hair tinted a delicate shade of pink, thus giving the impression that she’d been briefly dunked headfirst into a candyfloss machine.

- An old man who gave off the most astonishingly evil vibes. He had the aura of someone who’d spent his entire life bullying and exploiting people to get what he wanted. I didn’t even speak to him but I had an inexplicable impression of deep, calculating vileness. If I’d had children, I would have clutched them tightly to me as he passed.

It was clear that many in the crowd were new to the auction game, and they got caught up in classic auction frenzy. Someone paid over a thousand dollars for a short-horned cow skull. Another paid $170 for a tray of ordinary stoppered glass bottles that could be purchased new for $2 each at a warehouse store. Still another paid more than $500 for a battered antique sideboard that could be picked up at a junk shop for $200.

Even I got a little caught up. I bought a cupboard. It was only $24, and it’s a lovely beech veneer with a roll front of delicate beech slats. But I don’t need a cupboard. I have nowhere to put it. It’s just sitting there in the living room right now, like an inappropriate new girlfriend brought to a family dinner.

A moose head I could have found space for. Sigh.


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