In Santa Barbara’s social scene, fundraisers reign supreme. Naysayers need only have witnessed last weekend’s lavish Spanish-themed garden party benefit for the Breast Cancer Resource Center to be persuaded. And I, well, I only needed to survive the humiliating ritual of handing over my car keys to one unlucky valet faced with the unenviable task of taking to the wheel of my well-worn ride, leave the constructs of my writerly life behind, and pretend I belonged.

After depositing my car with said (woefully, woefully) unlucky valet at the Montecito Country Club, I boarded the continuously running bus that shuttled me and other guests to a jaw-dropper of an estate located just up the road. I collected my auction number, wound my way through the side of the property, and landed on the veranda, which overlooked a sunken garden and one of the most magnificent views of the Montecito coastline I’ve ever been privileged enough to see. A killer lineup of auction items lay in wait, while guests mingled, sipped, and snacked on tasty little treats like prosciutto-wrapped figs and calamari. Raffle tickets for a week at a beachfront Padaro Lane estate flew out of the hands of the adorable kids slinging them (a genius marketing strategy if ever there was one), Matt McAllister rocked the live auction, and the gorgeous Christine Myers did the “work” of modeling the custom Daniel Gibbings necklace he’d created for the occasion.

Taking in the entirety of the scene, it was pretty much impossible not to be a little bit stunned: The decor was festive and lovely, of course, although utterly trumped by the beauty of the setting itself. The weather was perfection, and the people-well, it was like wandering around the pages of Vogue, and I mean that in The. Best. Possible. Way. Beautiful people, drool-worthy clothes. I was in heaven, and my job had never been so easy. But the most beautiful thing, of course, is the proceeds of all of this fabulousness went to such a fantastic cause, a fact that managed not to feel like an afterthought. The warm-fuzzies were flowing like the wine, and by the time I packed it in, though my car had remained decidedly a pumpkin, I was feeling a little bit like Cinderella, having lucked into a ticket to the ball.

But I still over-tipped the valet. Trust me, it had to be done.


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