Watching a date auction is excruciating. Being auctioned off? I simply can’t imagine the horror.

Last night I went to the Eight is Enough benefit event to raise funds for NewGenesis, a transitional community for the homeless. The date auction idea sounded like it would make for fun people-watching (it did) and be a good place to catch up with a friend of mine who joined me (it was not). It was a very attractive crowd that ranged from twenty-something singles to fifty-something couples, but the auction itself was really kind of painful to watch. Vic Lombardi and Patricia Lopez from Channel 4 trotted out the eight bachelors and bachelorettes, and did mini-interviews before the bidding started. Each poor individual sat in a spotlight and literally squirmed in their seats as the crowd sized them up. I’d hate to be in that position, personally, but they all smiled gamely when the bidding started. (By the way, Lombardi does a helluva good job as an auctioneer. Where do people go to learn that speed-talking?)

One bachelorette, a former Broncos cheerleader, won the popularity contest for the evening and raised a very respectable $3,100 for her date. Another girl, a radio sales executive, raised $700 after promising “second base on the first date” to encourage more bidding. And one poor bloke generated around $500 after he blurted out that his brother “is an idiot” for settling down and getting married. Ouch. Probably not the smartest thing to say to a roomful of prospective first dates.

I know it’s all for a good cause and it raised a lot of money for a great charity, but I couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable watching the entire spectacle. Something about assigning a monetary value to a person — even if it’s just a date with that person — just doesn’t sit right with me.