As suburban parents, it's our duty to attend cheesy fund raising functions for the schools. I've sat through a crappy ventriloquist act, five-hour sit down dinners where I was stuck next to the mute moms, a contest where you make a sculpture out of discarded bread at a beefsteak social, and several reinterpretations of "The Night Before Christmas" as teary PTA presidents thanked the ladies.
Perhaps the silliest ritual at all these events is the Tricky Trade. You buy tickets and place them in a paper bag in front of a "basket o' shit". At the end of the evening, someone picks out a ticket out of the bag, and the winner gets the "basket o' shit." The basket o' shit is usually themed – "A Day at the Spa" or "Fun with Crafts" or "Build Your Own Future". It's often comprised of re-gifted items or T J Maxx specials.
Some people really get into the basket o' shit and screech with delight over their gift certificate for a French manicure at Nails R Us on the Route 17. They debate the pros and cons of the various strategies for winning – dumping all your ticket in one brown bag or targeting unpopular baskets.
Steve and I usually case the perimeter of the place and try to find the least offensive basket to drop out tickets. You have to participate or you look like an asshole, so we do our share. At the last Casino Night for Ian's school, I just handed the matter over to Steve and let him deal with the tickets. We never won anything before, so I chose to concentrate my energies on the blackjack table.
At the end of the evening, the PTA ladies started handing out the baskets to the winners and for the first time we won. But what did we win? We won tickets to a ballgame in CAMDEN. We're going to CAMDEN. Have you ever seen CAMDEN? This is CAMDEN.
This weekend, Steve and I sat down with a calendar to plan out the rest of the summer before we squander all that good time at the town swim club. There's a week down south. We want to go to the Jersey shore for a day. A water park. Oh, and we have to go to CAMDEN.