OTAT PDX Bone Ball Hilarities


This morning, my phone let me know that the silent auction for OTAT PDX’s annual fundraiser, the unfortunately-named Bone Ball, was live. Talk about click-bait. My heart began to thrum. 

I signed in. I power-perused the auction items. I saw something that made me stop scrolling: a drumhead that will be custom-painted by a local artist with the image of your pet.

I went through the entire auction again, slowing down a bit for this second pass. It was clear that yes, this was the perfect prize, and I had to have it. I had to have it not for myself but for my son, Dillon, who first picked up a pair of drumsticks at the age of three and has been drumming ever since. 

Dillon, who, less than six months ago, had to say goodbye to the four-legged love of his life, Dana. 

Dana has an amazing back story. He was a feral baby kitty perched dangerously atop a steep incline that plummeted down to the Ohio Turnpike. His eyes were the most beautiful we had ever seen.

But he was injured. The fur that was supposed to cover his chin was gone, leaving his lower jaw and gums completely exposed. We tried for a couple of hours to lure him to us. No luck. The next morning, Juli left the house determined to capture the kitty and take him to a vet. Which she did, in typical Juli Fashion. When she got her hands on him enough to pick him up, he clawed her bare arms to shredded ribbons. And yet she would not let go. She drove him to the vet, who improvised an operation in which he tacked chin fur to the jaw. Maybe the fur would stick, maybe it wouldn’t. Time would tell. 

It did. 

Dana became a treasured family member for more than twenty years. He was a little lover, but in all the family, Dillon was his boy. His person. He was Dillon’s homework buddy and constant shadow. 

And so my thought this morning was to win the drumhead, have it painted with a portrait of gorgeous Dana, and tell Dillon about the unique piece of art on April 17, when he turns the big three-o. What a treasure for Dillon to hang in his drum room!

I pondered my strategy. I know the outer limits of my fundraising budget. I know what I’ll be donating, and it is a laaaaaaatta money. But, I reasoned, since I’m going to be donating that amount of money anyway, why not throw all my weight into trying to win this awesome birthday gift for my son?

I felt the rumble of fiery determination. Suddenly ferocious, like a dragon with a hangover who’s been disturbed too soon, I make up my mind that I will prevail.

I make my first bid, topping the existing bid by $50.00. I’m on top of the world for fifteen minutes. Then I hear a little ping. I check my phone. The bid was raised.

I threw down my next bid. Three minutes later, another ping. Reply ‘259 800’ to increase your bid to 800… 

At this point, something makes me pause.

The only other person I know who might be doing exactly what I’m doing is Chris Trombley, otherwise known as OTAT PDX Executive Director Juli Zagrans’ main man/sidekick/personal chef.

Chris would want the lovely face of OTAT PDX Executive Dog Magpie to be painted on the drumhead that he would hang in his own music room, on the wall opposite his own drum kit.

[Backstsory: One quote will tell you how crazy Chris is about Magpie. After opening a DNA test kit, his Christmas gift from Magpie, I was privileged to glimpse a private moment between them. As Chris was massaging Magpie and giving her ear skritches, I heard him croon, Now we’ll be able to prove that I really am your father. –The word ‘besotted’ comes to mind.] 

Anyway, in a time zone three hours behind mine, Chris hears a ping, picks up his phone, reads the text, and says to no one in particular, Oh. Already got outbid on the drum thing. All right. Let’s effing do this. 

He slams down a much higher bid. 

Immeditately, his phone alerts him that his bid was topped. 

His mind goes all soft-focus and suddenly he finds himself in Wayne’s World. He mutters, It will be mine

So when my phone pinged, and this weird little thought came into my head, I shot Chris a text: I hope I’m not bidding against you for the painted drum head, Chris. I dramatize the text with the emoji where the eyes are wide and one hand is covering the mouth.

The phone rings. I look. It’s Chris. I pick up and as I do I fall on the floor laughing. Chris is laughing so hard I can’t even decipher his words. 

It’s moments like these that make life incredibly joyous. These are the moments worth remembering. Connection—to one another. Passion—for a shared purpose. Family–forever.

I tell Chris the reason I was bidding for the drumhead. Juli pipes up from across the room—Mom! This drumhead means so much to Chris! I ask why. The artist is a really famous drummer. All my antennae go berserk. I ask who is the artist. They tell me the name but I have no idea what they said. I do hear this, however: She’s a OTAT person, she comes to all our functions, and her band is really famous. I ask what band. Sleater-Kinney, they say, and I can tell they just know for sure that I will be utterly clueless. 


I start telling Juli and Chris about the book about the band I had read:

I started spewing forth random information and bits of awesomeness I learned from this very well-written (which, by the way, means a lot to me) book. I mean, I was gushing. And so the three of us veered into a totally off-topic discussion about the Seattle-Portland music scene, and about this band in particular, and how influential they have been—I mean, you know how it is when the subject of music comes up!  

Finally, I told Chris that I understood. I would bow out. 

But then, very sweetly, I asked Juli, Do you think she’d do a second portrait?