Sold on love

A Gilda’s Guys bachelor auction success story



Michael Hanlon, Natalie Sinisgalli Photography

“So, how did you two meet?”

It’s a question asked by the hopeful listener, the chance to hear a splendid tale, one worthy of a plot device for a romantic comedy, if you are really lucky. It’s a question I love to ask.

There are few things in life I enjoy more than when I see a couple that is a solid pairing. Sometimes they are similar, other times they are two weird puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly. When I meet an interesting couple I inevitably ask them how it all started. I’ve gotten responses ranging from specific apps and dating websites, a few “friends from work,” and even “at a funeral” (my parents being the latter). It’s always great when the answer isn’t what you expect.

When asked, I appreciate a life where my answer offers the hopeful listener a smile. “Well, we crossed paths as Time Travelers at a party—and then a few months later she bought me,” and with a pause I finish, “—I still have the receipt.” This usually elicits more questions, at which point I tell them that I was a bachelor auctioned off for charity. Now they realize this isn’t a simple swipe-right story—It’s a swipe down and sign the receipt story.

The auction was to support Gilda’s Club, a wonderful cancer support community that offers much-needed social and emotional support to those living with cancer along with their families and friends. Gene Wilder cofounded it after the loss of his friend and wife, Gilda Radner. As someone that has lost far too many to cancer, I found this to be a genuinely worthy team with a wonderful purpose—a team that also knows how to throw a great party.

Luckily, the story continues with an awesome woman who by supporting local charities and attending their events one day found herself bidding on a bald guy with a beard standing on a stage with bright lights in his face—a guy who had excitedly gotten sponsors—and hadn’t fully grasped the concept that he was actually going to be auctioned for a date till earlier that day.

Our paths had crossed before the evening of the auction. I had hosted a Back To The Future party at a bar called LUX that took place on the day that Marty was supposed to come to the far distant future of 2015—a crazy night with a packed house. Taking a break from emceeing what I think might have been a hoverboard-related event, I found myself out back when someone asked for a group photo. I stepped next to a girl that happened to be dressed as Future Biff. We chatted briefly and then I vanished back to continue with my hosting duty.

Months later, at a charity event, we crossed paths again. I was standing in blinding lights on the winning side of a bidding war. The moments that followed were a mixture of happiness to have raised money for a cause and a bit of relief with a dash of shock that my sticker price wasn’t half bad. I knew that each bachelor came with a well-stocked gift package from donors so that the winning bidder would get a great meal and some cool thank-you gifts—and I’d offer a fun conversation along with it. One of the perks of being a radio show host is I can guarantee an interesting dinner conversation and an hour that goes by quickly.

I climbed down the stairs. My eyes adjusted and I was greeted with a smile that I instantly remember. I thought to myself, “she really is a time traveler!” We conversed a bit as she swiped a card that would list me as QTY:1 on a receipt. The first text chat was supposed to just set up a time for the date but went on for hours as we chatted about random things. We shared funny photos of other costumes we had made over the years. Making an emboldened move in retrospect, I suggested we save the big important meal she had gotten at the auction for the second date, and let’s just try a practice one first. Get the awkwardness out of the way early. Worst case scenario, she would have a nice meal to enjoy with friends. The first date was great. We went to various places, having drinks, dinner, and finding ourselves in bars neither of us had been in. That lead to a conversation about Indian buffets, which we clearly needed to do before we went to the big fancy dinner she had won in the auction. The date at the Indian buffet spawned another night at a new place and new food to try. And from that another. We did eventually use the gift card. We got dressed up, I bought the flowers, and on our one-year anniversary, we finally had our first date. From there it’s been a fantastic adventure.

The answer to the other question … $400 is my street value. And I can prove it. The receipt is tucked in a book on our bedside table.

John Magnus Champlin is a Roc creative who tries to use his creative powers for good.

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