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Scene @ Surplus Equipment and Vehicle Auction

Berlin, Saturday, May 10, 10 A.M.


Published May 14, 2008 at 1:08 p.m.

As I cruised the grounds of the State of Vermont Surplus Equipment and Vehicle Auction in Berlin on Saturday morning, an impish thought occurred to me: If I was a single lady - or a gay man, for that matter - this place would be pay dirt. Amid the expected vehicle auction scenery of stripped state police cruisers, backhoes, dump trucks, Ski-Dos and flannel-clad duffers sipping from polystyrene were swarms of seemingly eligible men. They were everywhere - all ages, all types - munching hot dogs, inspecting boat motors, pretending to tinker. There was such a display of unbridled manhood that even my normally self-possessed boyfriend became infected by it: He scribbled notes, kicked tires, and refused to hold my pocketbook when I had to duck into a Port-a-Potty.

A circle of admirers seemed to be taken - as I was - by a certain sleek, black Crown Victoria still faintly emblazoned with the words BARRE TOWN POLICE. It was listed in "very good condition" and boasted a 4.8 L Police package. "See!" I said to my boyfriend pointedly.

"You don't even know what that means," he retorted, rolling his eyes.

Since I am easily swayed by buzz, I couldn't resist coveting this car; I ogled her like the other hopefuls. The anticipation included the conspiratorial rumblings of a group of college students who nervously counted how much money they had between them.

My stomach twittered as the bids started pouring in for Lot #8. The auctioneer yodeled soothingly and up, up, up went the bids until, finally and inevitably, she was SOLD! to the highest bidder. My heart sank. The college guys let out a collective sigh and began to straggle off. And then I remembered something poignant my father had said when he found me sitting on the closet floor of my childhood bedroom, sobbing into the teal, acrylic folds of my prom dress: "You won't even remember whatshisface in 10 years."

Of course, he was right - I don't. The point is that at auction, as in life, there are always other fish in the sea.