Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday Memories—Box Socials


I love the idea of a box social: a community gathering with the womenfolk bringing nicely decorated boxes or baskets with good food inside, men bidding on mystery meals with the highest bidder claiming the girl for company. It sounds simply romantic in a Norman Rockwell setting. And if I ever write a cheesy novel you can bet there will be a box social in it somewhere. In reality however, box socials have been painful for me and if I ever write a biography you can bet I won’t include it.

When I was a girl we had box socials at church and mom packed every one of her daughters a wonderful box. It didn’t matter whether you bought Lila’s, Chris’, Marcia’s, Lynn’s, mine, Janet’s or Rachel’s you were going to get a neatly wrapped shoe box with fried chicken, potato salad and a chocolate cupcake. My mom was a good, sanitary cook and you were safe bidding on a Chadwick box and the boys at church knew it. No one had to beg someone to buy our boxes. So, though it was scary when your box was held up and the boys started to bid letting the world know how much they thought eating with you was worth (somehow secrets never stayed secret), at least you could rest assured they wouldn’t be disappointed with what was in the box, just that it was you they got for company.

When I was in college our animal science club held a box social to earn money. Calvin and I were both in the club and had been dating but not openly—I suppose we were protecting our bridges should ours burn. Instead of individual boxes, girls in the club grouped together. A few friends and I met to decide what to put in our box. The other girls had never attended a box social so my voice was the expert. I remembered mom’s boxes that had always sold higher than the boxes with sandwiches and suggested chicken, potato salad and chocolate cake. The night came and all the women brought their colorful boxes and baskets and lined them up on tables in the front of the room. Calvin had asked someone which box was mine. Since it was a meal for six he grabbed a couple of buddies to bid with him. As everyone was assembling and the auctioneer was getting the microphone ready, I overheard that one box had crab in it. It never occurred to me that you could put something besides cold chicken or a cold sandwich in a box. Then I heard what some of the other boxes had in them. Suddenly, I was embarrassed. Who wants cold fried chicken when there is steak and crab and lasagna? Nobody was dumb enough to try to sell a cold sandwich. Suddenly, I wasn’t just worried about disappointing someone with my presence but also with a dismal meal.

The bidding began and as each box was claimed it was opened to reveal the contents and who made it. Each box I sunk lower. About midway through the auction the auctioneer held up the box for which I was responsible. He had asked me to help him with something just prior to raising the box so I was in the front of the room when the bidding began. I pretended like I didn’t recognize the box, but the guys in the room saw that Calvin suddenly took interest and started bidding up the price of the box. Higher and higher it went. The auctioneer teased Calvin. The men in the room teased Calvin. I got red. The room was insufferably hot. I pretended something dropped and knelt down and hid underneath the table holding the boxes. But the bidding kept going. First it was double the other boxes, then triple, then quadruple. Everyone in the room, including Calvin, was laughing and the jokes, like bids, kept flinging across the room. (I wasn’t laughing, I was mortified, but since I was hiding under the table I could hardly be counted as in the room.) The auctioneer teased Calvin that maybe there was a marriage certificate in the box so not to give up as the men kept raising the bid higher and higher. When the bid was more than a month of rent, I stopped listening and focused on breathing. It was my eight cow moment, my moment of glory, but I couldn’t enjoy it. Calvin hates chicken . . .

19 comments:

Barb said...

Um, I think you are writing your biography and you did just include it! What a great story - you should feel like an 8 cow wife!

Leslie said...

I got quite a laugh out of your story. I can just picture you hiding under a table while Calvin bid higher and higher. That was a man in love for sure! So cute!

Alisa said...

I agree with Barb- and I am so glad I go to read this. So so glad. Jay just asked what I was laughing about.
You have such a great "voice." I want to copy the way you tell your stories.

Ande Payne said...

Oh Mom. That is painful. Very painful. What is most painful about this story is I can so clearly see myself in it. Oh die.

I think the best part of that story is that you hid under the table. Haha under the circumstances I can see how that seemed a logical thought...but really Mom? Under the table? Oh you are funny.

Yes Dad was in love. I hope the chicken wasn't really that dry. Especially knowing how much Dad loves crab...and steak...and lasagna.

You are funny Mom. I love you.

deidra said...

I love this story. And I don't think there is much else to say. (Though I think a box social would be quite the event!)

melanie said...

It's way too long to type but I have a crazy box lunch social story too. Only I didn't end up under a table OR marrying the guy either. I love this post and smiled the whole way through it.

Becky said...

I'm sorry to laugh at your painful memory but...I am laughing so hard!!! This is the best story ever and your last line clinched it :)

Poor Jane...lucky Calvin!

Hannah said...

This has me giggling hysterically, I don't think it is just the hour. So funny Jane.

I would be a box social kinda gal too. They just sound so romantic...

Becka said...

A box social is so romantic and I agree nervewracking. But..when a man loves you, he'll pay big bucks and eat the chicken he doesn't like just for YOU. What a guy!

Mindy said...

What a great story! I also laughed and could imagine the whole scenario, table included. I think I would have reacted the same way, ha ha!

Susan said...

Knowing Calvin, I think that is about the sweetest thing I've ever heard, and I'm so pointing my boys in this direction for pointers on courting a girl.

So sweet.

Going bananas said...

How much did the lunch actually sell for? And how did the bidding finally come to an end? This is an AWESOME story!

Rebecca said...

That story was totally worth putting in a book. I totally felt for you! But...Who was the other bidder Jane?

Jill said...

What a great (yet painful) story! I especially love how you ended it.

Marie said...

You are such a great story teller. And horay for Calvin to make your box the highest earning. That has got to feel good!

Cali said...

Mom,
Sometimes you lose your mind and you wonder who will ever want all these blog/e-mail journals you're creating. Sometimes I know you're worrying/wondering and I can assure you that I want them, that Abe wants them, that Ty wants them, that Ande wants them. Well, let it be known AGAIN... these are meaningful to me. I've heard this story before (a long time ago), but I couldn't have remembered it to retell. I want my family to know how dad was willing to spend a whole month's rent on your fried chicken; how much time with you was worth.

Kathy said...

Oh the drama, oh the suspence! Such a well told story! I don't think Mahana enjoyed her 8 cow moment either! But she blossomed! You have thrived with Calvin as your spouse and that is a compliment to both of you! What a deal, he doesn't like chicken?

Lyle and Mary: said...

He may have hated chicken but not more than he loved you!
Cali's right. Your kids need that story in writing.

Amy said...

I loved this story. Truly.