This spring I attended a tea — an anachronism during which women dress up, wear hats, sip hot tea and snack on cucumber sandwiches.

I prefer wearing sweatpants and a ponytail to a fancy dress and hat, but I can play along when I have to.

Because it was a fundraiser for the local garden club, the tea included a silent auction.

I admit, I love a silent auction. It’s fun to see what is offered to the potential buyer and to evaluate the extent of the deal to be had. It serves as a slightly different kind of retail therapy.

All the items were very nice — dishware, handcrafted glass art, upscale kitchen items, a quilt. One item drew me in: a painting.

Simply because it was a painting, I was interested. I don’t have a lot of room left in my house to hang paintings, but as a painter, I like to see what other painters have done.

The pinks and purples of the floral drew me in — they are my favorites to paint with.

But then, I saw the backstory: The deceased artist was a friend of my aunt. Suddenly, the painting was an orphan and I felt a responsibility to own it. This wasn’t the first time I felt sympathy for a piece of art. That’s how I ended up with my aunt’s cousin’s charcoal sketches.

Besides, no one else will want it. Technically, it’s not all that great and the colors are a little too bright to look real.

But it has a nice frame and, besides no one else will want it.

I signed my name and made the minimum bid.

I learned my mom’s best friend’s daughter won it at a similar gathering and it sat in her attic for years. She donated it for this auction — it was her chance to get rid of it.

When I checked back on my bid, someone had gone three dollars higher than me, so I bid three more dollars.

Turns out, I was in a bidding war with a woman who was sitting at my table. I backed off so she could have it. I thought maybe she really wanted it. The painting would have a good home.

In the end, someone slid in at the last minute and outbid both of us.

Apparently, the orphan painting wasn’t as undesired as I thought it was.

It would have looked fine in my guest room, but it wasn’t meant to be. That’s OK, as long as it got a good home.

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lward@dailyindependent.com