Organizing the school auction leads one suburban mom down the path to infidelity, murder

Did you survive your school’s auction fundraiser?

The season is coming to an end for this annual rite of public and private school parent participation: the gala party and auction to raise money. These auctions can be big money makers, bringing in more than $100,000. In the past few years of tough budget times, this cash has become especially important for individual public schools. It helps them pay for some of those necessary extras: art, music, PE, library hours, reading specialists.

So, a lot of planning goes into them, not just to throw the party but to hit up–er, kindly persuade–individuals and businesses to donate trips, entertainment, goody baskets that parents can bid on. 

I hope that organizers are surviving this season of auctions with sanity and marriages in tact!

I started to wonder about organizers’ well-being after I indulged in some fun movie viewing on Saturday (I needed something to watch while organizing my closet and sock drawer).

The film was Unfaithful. From 2002, this sexy film stars the lovely Diane Lane as Connie Sumner, a suburban stay-at-home mom who really breaks bad. She seems to have it all: a handsome, successful husband, a cute 8-year-old son, and a beautiful Cape Cod home on several acres in some posh New York City suburb.

The director is Adrian Lyne, the style master behind Fatal Attraction, another classic celluloid story that shows what happens when a spouse strays from a pleasant but perhaps too safe upper-middle-class marriage.

Things first go right–and then wrong–for Connie when she ventures out of suburbia into the big, dangerous city. She goes into New York, where she and the husband used to live–pre-child–to do some errands for–yes–her son’s school auction! It is a very windy day, and she’s hobbling around SoHo on some very tall heals, shopping for stuff for this damned auction. The wind is whipping open her sexy trench coat and wrap-around dress just before she bumps into a handsome, heavy-lidded French guy who lives in a loft, deals in antique books, and gives her a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam as a present. “Drink wine. This is life eternal. This is all youth will give to you. … Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

Connie has Edward at home, and Gere in the role of the betrayed spouse still looks very attractive, with that silver just beginning to fleck his hair. But you know, Connie and Edward have fallen into their domestic routine. He worries about money and work. He teaches their son fart jokes, and the couple’s attempt at a romantic interlude gets interrupted by their son calling out from his bed.

She starts up her affair, traveling into New York by train in the middle of the day. Her explanation for getting away? She needs to do things for the school auction.

The affair gets really hot. Then, it unravels. Disaster strikes. Heartache. Murder. I won’t say anything more.

But, at least, the school auction goes well, with parents bidding up a storm in the final scenes. Connie’s family life is in a mess, but, in between nooners, she did commendable job pulling together together the school auction.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than to say, watch out for that school auction! Organizers, take care of yourselves.  And spouses of organizers: if you are worried that your mate was spending too much time away from home working on the damned auction, especially after the auction was over, you can always go the route that Richard Gere’s Edward took: hire a private detective.

7 thoughts on “Organizing the school auction leads one suburban mom down the path to infidelity, murder

  1. Ha ha! I had forgotten why she had gone to NYC. I just helped out on our school auction but the most exciting aspect of that was holding up desserts for high bidders. One layered cake-mousse-thing went for $170–racy!


  2. I helped with my daughter's school auction. It was a very sucessful one. Thank goodness! As far as I know there are no divorce or murder cases filed. The auction was 2-27-10 so I will watch for any happenings around the school.


  3. Dear readers,
    Thanks for posting! I have to confess: I helped do marketing (writing) one year for my son's elementary school fundraising efforts… But given my anti-social ways, I didn't make it to the auction 😦 I'm such a grump. No, my participation that year didn't lead to an affair or murder, though I later heard of serious tension among the auction co-chairs. And a rebellion and a coup!

    Dear Miss Lisa,
    OK, for accuracy sake: Diane Lane DOES go into NYC for auction purposes, but to also do stuff for her son's birthday party. When she's shopping in SoHo, and getting whipped around by the wind, she MIGHT be buying interesting party favors for the birthday party…

    Man, I wish I could totter around so bewitchingly on heels. With my shopping bags…

    A new goal in life!

    Glad your auction was successful.

    As Anon 7:34 said: “Loved the movie.” Yes, it was a fun movie to re-watch. Hadn't seen it.

    As for the behavior surrounding school auctions, I didn't get close enough to observe


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