Boat show attendees rarely get a glimpse into the after-hours life of people who staff the booths selling their products. Not being twenty-year-olds, there does not seem to be too many wild parties at these. You are setting up one day, running a booth for eight to ten hours for several days, and then breaking down for the drive home.
One aspect of doing shows is the evening routines of dinners and social get-togethers. At these stories get told, repeated year after year, and sometimes enlarged upon. My son Nick had a tiny bit of celebrity for always keeping a crisp new dollar bill and offering to buy expensive boats for cash on the barrelhead right then and there. Only quick action prevented him from attempting to buy the USS Constitution from its commanding officer.
Strange things happen at shows, and they become grist for the story mill at dinner.
One of the stranger incidents was the couple who chose to break up very loudly and publicly in front of my booth. You hate to interfere in such a moment. But you hope that they remove the action to a less public area—especially a place away from the booth space I am renting for about two hundred dollars a day. Visitors stay away from a spectacle, so my booth remains empty as long as this goes on and I lack the traffic needed for sales. Then the young man began to bawl loudly about how she was his life, and he could not live without her. Now they were attracting a crowd. But no one was buying my goods – they were busy watching a Shakesperean tragedy unfold on the waterfront.
That evening I told the tale to friends at dinner. It seems that it was an almost day-long train wreck and my booth had not been the only one visited. One friend pointed out that on the far side of the noisy restaurant sat the lovely couple deeply gazing into each other’s eyes and so closely embraced that it was a bit suggestive. Somewhere near the end of our long table, someone shouted out, ” Hey! Get a room!”
The table erupted in laughter, and the embarrassed couple paid up and presumably found a room.