In My Opinion

Rivenbark: Learning important things from fundraiser lunches

July 13, 2013 

As an admitted “E lister” (if my girl Kathy Griffin is D list, even this may be a bit of a stretch, but “F list” list sounds too depressing for words) I am often asked to donate a lunch to a charitable cause. The way it works is that some charity or the other “auctions off” lunch with me and the winning bidder gets to invite four or five friends along for our lunch, which is donated by a local restaurant. My “job” is to basically sit at the head of the table, try not to eat with my feet, make idle chit chat, give everybody a signed book or two and drive home kinda thunderstruck that anybody would actually pay to eat with me.

I mean it’s not exactly dining with the Dalai Lama. But if it’s for a good cause, one that is close to my heart and also doesn’t involve more than a 30-minute drive, round-trip, then, yes, I am ALL IN.

These lunches, increasing in frequency over the past year or so, have given my friends and family many minutes of amusement.

“Who the heck would pay to eat with you?” asked Aunt Verlie one day after I had arrived with her Lunesta refill and a copy of the newest “CBS Soaps.”

“That shows what you know,” I pouted. “Like the Good Book says, a prophet is often not recognized in his home land.” When in doubt, it’s always good to go with a mutilated Bible verse with Aunt Verlie.

She seemed to consider this for a short moment and then grunted and returned to watching “Let’s Make a Deal” on her room-size TV. Normally cantankerous, Aunt Verlie melts like butter on a hot biscuit at the very sight of game show host Wayne Brady, her Serious Crush.

“Now there’s someone I’d have lunch with three times a day,” she said.

Oh, my.

I’ll admit the notion of raising money for lots of really good causes through the simple act of showing up and eating is enormously appealing to me. It encapsulates all that is important to me: free food, good conversation and validated parking. What’s not to love?

The only downside is that there is pressure to bring the banter big time when someone has laid out big, or even medium bucks, to have lunch with you.

I imagine it’s how President Obama or the pope feels. Yeah, it’s just like that.

People who volunteer with charities often say: “I actually get more out of it than the people I’m supposedly helping.” While I don’t feel THAT way, I have learned a lot during these hour-long conversations with these generous strangers. Some of it has even been life-changing. My favorite nugget? That Sally Hansen leg makeup is by far the best brand and if you dilute it with lotion it will go on more smoothly.

Which is something I’m guessing the pope and Obama almost never have a chance to discuss.

celiarivenbark.com

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