NIGHT OF ENCHANTMENT
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that my friend Paul Proch had put himself up for auction on eBay. I dont mean he was offering to live in the basement and keep the floors waxed and the plants watered for life if you won the auctionhe was offering himself for one night only. As he put it:
"Your NIGHT OF ENCHANTMENT will commence when you rendezvous with me, PAUL PROCH, at a convenient pre-arranged location. Then you will accompany me, PAUL PROCH, to the garden spot of the world BROOKLYN, USA for the opening night world premiere of "Theatre for the New Ear" at the ST. ANNS WAREHOUSE Theater..."
"Theater for the New Ear" is the classy title for a pair of radio plays written and directed by the Coen Brothers (Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou) and Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Opening night tickets were not easy to come by, since (despite the Brooklyn location) the cast included Meryl Streep, John Goodman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marcia Gay Harden, and Steve Buscemi, but since Paul is Charlie Kaufmanns erstwhile writing partner AND the guy who drew all those pictures used in "Eternal Sunshine," he managed *cough* to snag some.
(Paul also did the illustrations for *cough cough* my last three books, available at extremely reasonable prices at the Delaware Valley News office).
The description of Pauls proposed Night of Enchantment continues for several paragraphs, concluding, "Then, weary and languid as your NIGHT OF ENCHANTMENT nears its conclusion, I will leave you with a waggish "adieu" and your treasured memories of a NIGHT OF ENCHANTMENT. After that, you're on your own. After all, I have to get up and go to work thin the morning. I need my restIm not a machine, you know. In addition, your entire NIGHT OF ENCHANTMENT will be fully documented by PAUL PROCHs personal team of photographers (his sister and her husband)."
I ask youhow could anyone (at least anyone female between the ages of 25-50, as specified in the ad) resist the urge to bid on this auction? Which, by the way, was illustrated with a photograph of Paul wearing a ski cap, goggles, and a smoking jacket, with his arm around a stuffed gorilla*, captioned: "Thats right, one lucky lady could be this gorilla for a price!"
And what was that price? I hope youre sitting down. The Night of Enchantment went for $306.34. There was a spirited bidding warby which I mean that at least two different females were vying for the right to PAY Paul for the pleasure of his company. And even though it took place online, and the weapon of choice was money, it surely qualifies as an example of Natures most awesome spectacle: a GIRL FIGHT! Ideally, of course, both girls in a girl fight should be wearing black underwear, and begin the fracas by throwing table lamps and high heels at each other and gradually close the distance until theyre grappling hand to hand, and in the course of the struggle they rip each others blouses to shreds which is how we find out about the black underwear, and then they tumble into a nearby shallow canal, and the busty redhead yells, "You keep your hands off him! Hes mine, you bitch!" And then the incredibly hot blonde chick gives her a shove and, um... er...
Well, this auction wasnt like that, exactly, but its the same basic idea.
The winner was one Kathy Newland of Moore, Oklahoma. And since among the many many conditions, disclaimers, and caveats Paul included in his auction was, "The date does not include your transportation to the initial, agreed-upon convenient meeting location, or your return. So if youre in California, or Guadalajara, or Moscow, or some other ridiculous place outside of New York City, youll have to get here and back on your own," she paid for her own transportation from Oklahoma and hotel accommodations. (I suspect this means that her out-of-pocket expenses for this Night of Enchantment added up to more than $304.34).
Kathy, it turns out, is a married mother of three and possibly the worlds biggest "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" fan, having seen it at least 40 times. Her husband of 20 years not only approved of her bidding on the auction but encouraged it. Im not sure if he saw the picture of Paul with his arm around the monkey or not.
So how did the date go? Did Paul (as his auction notice promised) at least buy Kathy dinner at the Brooklyn Diner on 57th Street in Manhattan?
PAUL: We ate at the Heartland Brewery, next to the Empire State Building.
ME: What did you have?
PAUL: Nachos and beer.
ME: I see. And did you actually take her to the play, or just rent some videotape ?
For some reason Paul cut the interview short at that point, although later he told me that they "did so" go to the play. "Afterwards, Charlie saw me and came over and talked to us for a while; then he asked if we wanted to stay for the opening night party, which was held in the lobby with food and open bar. Kathy got to meet Meryl Streep, Steve Buscemi and Peter Dinklage. Then around 1:00 AM she got in a cab, went back to her hotel, and left for Oklahoma the next morning. She said she had a wonderful time (even though we never made it to the Brooklyn Diner) and that it was a dream come true."
Noticing that he totally sidestepped the videotape question, I felt it was necessary to interview Kathy to get the real story. She backed up Pauls claim about really going to the play and the after party, as well as the wonderful time.
ME: Did Paul show you his stuffed monkey collection? If so, which was your favorite?
KATHY: Unfortunately I didnt get to see it, not enough time. Actually, I didnt know that one existed. Did see the gorilla on eBay though.
ME: You ended up winning the auction with a bid of $306.34. Were you prepared to go higher? If someone had bid $306.35, would you have just said to hell with it? How much WOULD you say a date with Paul is worth?
KATHY: Honestly, I would have bid until I won. Paul is priceless....and the sweetest I might add.
ME: Did Paul make you pay for the nachos?
KATHY: No, he wouldnt let me. They were good nachos too!
ME: Did any of the celebrities you met try to
borrow money from you?
ME: Not even Meryl Oh-goodness-I-left-my-purse-in-the-dressing room-could-you-loan-me-$30-for-cabfare Streep? How much did Meryl Streep try to borrow from you, and has she made any effort to pay it back yet?
KATHY: [politely suggests this was covered by the previous question and answer]
So everyone seems to be happy with the way things turned out. And why not? If we deduct the cost of the nachos (and forget about airfare and hotel rooms and stuff) the actual cost of a date with Paul works out to about $293. Get out your check books, ladies! Mr. Proch is still available!
Back to Jeff Grimshaws Crystal Drum Page
Complete Text of Pauls eBay Auction
Journey Into Madness: The Paul Proch Story
Dawn Eden remembers a date with Paul circa 1983.
A Fond Remembrance of Paul's career as the "Atomic Drinker."
John Boonstra writes more about Paul and Charlie at The Hartford Advocate.
(incidentally, Kathy TOTALLY agrees with this articles contention that Jim Carreys Joel Barrish is an awful lotlike Paul Proch)
"Being Charlie Kaufman" website