By: Michael J. Foster

      There it is! The old oak English chest with the inlaid wood patterns and brass fittings is prominently positioned at center stage. While the auctioneer explains how rare and valuable it is, your pulse quickens. You imagine how great it will look at the foot of your bed. As two burly men lift the chest for all to see, the auctioneer begins the bidding. "We will start the bidding at $100! Who will give $100 for the old English chest?" And so it begins.

Hand-waves and bidding cards pop up fast, but the seasoned auctioneer doesn't loose stride. He raises each bid with quick points and affirmative nods. The frenzy continues up to $250 before you break free from your antique-induced fantasy. With sweaty palms, you place your bid. The auctioneer smiles at the new bidder. "Thank you Ma'am! I have $260. Who will give $270?"

       Your body shudders with exhilaration. You feel so alive, but also dizzy from the excitement. The auctioneer looks right at you. "It's $280 back to you Ma'am!" You realize you've been outbid, but now your competitive nature takes over. You nod a defiant "yes" and look back to the wooden chest, which is now illuminated with shafts of golden light from heaven.

       The bidding escalates past $300 well on its way to $400. The auction now resembles a tennis match. Back and forth it goes - a forehand bid here and double backhand nod there. The crowd watches with anticipation as the two warriors battle. It's now $550.

       "Going once!" You have the highest bid. "Going twice!" The auctioneer points his gavel in your direction. "Will anyone give $510 for the oak chest?" Your stomach flutters with a confused delight. "Sold! For $500 to the lady in the second row!"

       You won! You sit there smiling while your inflated ego does an obscene victory dance. A man in the row behind pats you on the back. The woman next to you tells you how lovely the chest is. You are the champion!

       The quiet ride home provides sobering reflection. The woman glances in the rearview mirror to admire her wooden trophy stuffed in the back seat. It somehow has lost its glimmer. A $500 box and a woman named Ahab.

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