In which firefighters get shirtless to save the day.

Since I’m back in school, I’ve started volunteering again. There’s a really handy website called One Brick that lets you sign up for events and simply show up the day of.

It’s a convenient way to find out about volunteer opportunities around Boston. It usually consists of normal stuff, like working in a soup kitchen or handing out water at a charity run. But last weekend, I saw an event that looked a little bit different.

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A non-profit called Project Smile was putting on a charity date auction, naming it “Boston’s Largest Fall Singles Event.” With such a declaration, how could I not be interested? Me and three friends RSVP’d for the event.

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Not that we’d be participating– we all signed up as volunteers. Still, it sounded like an interesting way to spend a Friday evening. Date auctions are one of those things I’ve only seen in the movies. Were they really the same in real life?

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The event called for “cocktail attire.” So, after class that day, I ran home, geared up, and got my game on.

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My friends and I headed to the venue, appropriately named “Venu.” Inside, we found a fancy nightclub, decorated for the occasion.

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There was a silent auction…

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…a backdrop for photos…

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…and a table full of vibrators.

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This was going to be interesting.

I was assigned to the money-handling table. Here, the auction winners would come up and pay for their date. My job? To make them sign a waiver.

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As we set everything up, more and more people started filing into the nightclub. Soon, the entire place was packed. The bachelors and bachelorettes being sold wandered around, chatting with prospective bidders. Finally, at 7:30…

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The auction started out strong. Miss Massachusetts was at the event, presumably as the celebrity guest. She was invited to the stage to say a few words. And then, a surprise:

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Whoa, you can’t just spring that on someone! Onstage, she has no way to say no! What if she wasn’t okay with this?  The bidding began, quickly escalating higher and higher. She is a beauty pageant winner, after all. Man, I was getting nervous for her.

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Finally, when the bids reached over $300…

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To my relief, Miss Massachusetts’ own boyfriend had stepped in and offered the highest bid, which ended up being over $300. This was a hard act to follow. Maybe we had a tough crowd that night, but it became hard for the MC’s to get anything beyond the initial bid.

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It started to get kind of desperate.

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For one lady, the awkward silence got so bad that the MC bought the girl himself.

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The MC’s even encouraged people to buy more than one date. One gentleman ended up buying three or four girls.

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As weird as that sounds, though, I think he did it out of goodwill.

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Well, and he got some cheap dates with cute girls.

The entire date auction wasn’t a bust, though. No, sir. There was a savior up ahead. The crowd started out lukewarm– but it wouldn’t last.

You see, my friends and I hadn’t signed up for the event just because it was a date auction. We signed up because we saw the flyers.

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You read that right.

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We were interested.

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The MC’s brought the first firefighter on stage. Not only was he a firefighter, but he was also a paramedic. A double-whammy lifesaver. This was the guy that we had all been waiting for.

You could hear the panties dropping. Or, more literally, the bids escalating.

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The bids stalled around the upper 300’s. Then, the MC offered:

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Almost immediately, an old lady raised her hand, pulled out her wallet, and bid $400. High-pitched cheers erupted across the room. The DJ put some sexy music on.

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Luckily, the firefighter was a good sport. He proceeded to strip down– first his vest, then his shirt, then his undershirt, then: no shirt. The MC even gave him a pink firefighter cap to complete the look.

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As this was happening, of course, the bids continued to rise.

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Finally, the MC pulled out the big guns.

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The crowd went wild, and the rest was history.

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After that, everything seemed to loosen. Bids went higher. The crowd seemed more at ease. And, most importantly, clothes just kept coming off.

"C'mon, ladies."

“C’mon, ladies.”

It was the most awkward and hilarious spectacle I’ve ever seen.

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Project Smile raised $18,000 in just that one night– all thanks to the shirtless firemen.

What I’ve learned from a year of blogging

I started this site, I think in comics, exactly a year ago today. It started as a place for me to vent my usually incoherent ramblings about my life– but since then, it’s garnered a couple dozen readers, a few thousand views, and even a post that went minor-league viral.

Spectacular, I know.

Regardless, I’ve published 126 posts this year (including this one) which, to me, is a surprisingly large amount. How did I even find the time to write all of those? What did I even write about? Did I gain anything from all of that work? Well, in all of this writing and drawing and blogging, I had to have learned something, right?


1. How to draw really fast

Between this blog and Minus One, I’ve had to draw a ton in this last year. Specifically, drawing with a tablet directly into Photoshop. Drawing with a tablet feels much different from drawing on paper, mostly because of the disconnect between hand and image. (You draw on one surface, but it shows up on another) As a result, I used to be very very slow and shaky with my tablet. But since all this year I’ve been all

I’ve gained the skill of

Despite all this, though, I haven’t become any better at drawing. Only faster. I’m afraid to say that in this coming year I will still continue to look like a misshapen munchkin.

2. I need to call my parents more

I say this because this happened once:

Yeah. I’m a bad daughter.

3. The internet is a big and scary place

So I started this blog for myself, but at the same time, have tried to promote it. I started a twitter, and a tumblr, and a Facebook page, but to be honest I have no idea what to do with them or what the proper etiquette is or how to make them equally fun and engaging. I am not social media savvy. 

More recently I’ve been posting my blog onto Reddit (while trying to follow reddiquette– I post other links too!) and people there aren’t afraid to be honest. It’s not a bad thing– people often offer tips and advice and corrections which I’ve found very helpful. You just have to have a thick skin sometimes. And I haven’t been trolled yet… knock on wood.

4. Even my parents read my blog. I have to watch what I say.

There are people who blog anonymously, or sometimes not anonymously, and treat their blog as the great confessional. And there’s nothing wrong with that. As for me, though, I have family and friends reading my blog. Therefore I’ve established a two rules for myself:

1. Ask before writing about someone else

My college friends can attest. I’ve often asked them permission to write about something before writing it. It would get awkward if people had to tiptoe around me, afraid that what they said was going to be blogged. The very last thing I want to do is to hurt, embarrass, or offend anybody from a post, even if it makes for a funny story. So it can’t hurt to check. Anyway, when I ask, the answer is usually

2. Don’t say on your blog what you wouldn’t tell someone in real life

I have bad days too. I’ve been tempted to write some emo posts. But I don’t enjoy getting all teary on people in real life, so there’s no reason I should do it here. Nobody wants to hear that.

These are my own rules, though, not anybody else’s. Some bloggers are fueled by writing about controversial topics, or by lambasting others, or by passionately writing about their greatest hopes and fears. I’ve seen these blogs, and tons and tons and tons of them are absolutely brilliant. But that’s not me.

5. Everybody’s life is interesting, if you spin it the right way

I know I’ve been to Japan and Germany, but usually my life is pretty ordinary. I go to college. Study. Hang out with friends. You know, normal stuff.

And there have been many, many times where I’ve been struck by the dreaded

What I’ve tried to do, then, is to find humor in everyday life. Like riding elevators. Or getting a helmet. Or having allergies. Not all of these posts are that hilarious, mind you. But it’s made me look at my life differently– to see how the mundane can, actually, be a funny story.

In other words, maybe my life isn’t so boring after all.

And that’s what I’ve learned after a year of blogging. And now, on to the next year!