February 7, 2000
Oscar Gowing is one of the bachelors who will be auctioned off to a lucky lady at the Brittany Pak Valentine Auction.
Photo courtesy of Brittany Park.
by Bronwyn Wilson
Many will be in formal attire at the Valentine's Day Bachelor Auction, but one Brittany Park bachelor says he'll be in a bathing suit and a straw hat. To Claudia Talbott, Program Supervisor at Woodinville's Leisure Care retirement community, it doesn't matter. She wants the gentlemen to wear "whatever makes them comfortable."
Whether in swim trunks or three-piece suit, eligible bachelors will be auctioned off to the highest bidder on Feb. 14 in Brittany Park's Fireside dining room at 1 p.m. Anthony's Formal Wear donated tuxedos for the bachelors to be photographed in prior to the auction.
Single ladies may preview the dapper bachelors by viewing the men's 8" by 10" glossies posted behind the front desk in the lobby. All dozen or so bachelors are Brittany Park residents--except a medical doctor who signed up because he wanted an adventure.
At the event, each bachelor will be escorted by a member of a volunteer church group who call themselves "Lavender Ladies." The group, which gets its name from the belief they're too young to wear purple, helps with many of Brittany Park's social functions. Each Lavender Lady will be in a formal gown as she escorts the bachelor out. A description and history will be announced for each good-looking gentleman up for auction. Bidding will start at $10 to $20. The lady with the top bid will be awarded a lunch or dinner with her Valentine's bachelor.
Brittany Park's bus driver, Gene Martin, will also be there, decked out in white tails and a red tie. He is the auctioneer for the afternoon, and with his experience calling auctions for the Elk's Lodge, the ladies should come prepared for anything.
Local restaurants have joined in and donated dinners or lunches for two. Red Robin, Chan's, Thai Restaurant, and Italianissimo will treat the special bachelor and his lady. A number of other restaurants are yet to confirm.
Claudia Talbott once trained in a Richard Simmons program, and she has as much enthusiasm or more as the exercise guru. Evidence of this is her desire to have fun-filled occasions for her seniors, and she dreams up ways to do it. Knowing that Valentine's Day was ahead, she thought of a bachelor auction.
She sent out a tongue-in-cheek letter to Brittany Park's single men. There are thirty of them ranging in age from 75 to 95. The letter requested the men's participation and stated that certain criteria must be met before being considered an eligible bachelor for the auction. They had to be either a "man" or "unattached" or possess one of twenty-four different Boy Scout qualities such as trustworthiness or loyalty.
"They are so excited about this," Talbott says. "These are things they have never done. If it's not a hit, you know what? We'll make it fun."
Talbott emphasizes the word "fun" and uses it often. Her aerobics classes--fun. A day trip to Black Diamond--fun. Her joy is infectious.
Many Brittany Park ladies have caught it, greeting her auction idea with anticipation and excitement. One says she has fifty dollars saved. But another professes she never spent a penny on a man and never will. Talbott says confidently that any skeptics will change their minds.
Claudia Talbott received a 1999 community service award for outstanding partnership with the community of Woodinville. This award, given by Leisure Corp., is a tribute to Talbott's ability to communicate with area businesses. For example, Woodinville's Albertson's and Big Foot Bagels are some of the regular contributors to Brittany Park's events. And Brittany Park's residents return the favor by shopping and eating by the busload at local businesses.
Talbott doesn't hesitate to mention that she loves her job. A former special ed teacher, she once cared for her own father when he suffered from Alzheimer's. She knows life's challenges and difficulties.
"A lot of residents have lost their spouses," she says. "Moving into Brittany Park has enhanced their lives."
She makes certain of it. She doesn't stride too far down Brittany Park's halls without hugging residents and asking one kind-looking gentleman in a wheelchair, "Ready for a big day?"
One resident asks if it's time for the next activity. Talbott reminds her that she's a little early yet. But soon, it's time for Bowling for Dollars, and Claudia Talbott is on her way.
Proceeds from the auction go to Woodinville Senior Program, a satellite of Northshore Senior Center in Bothell. The public is welcome to attend this unusual Valentine's Day event.