Through a Glass, Brightly

By Jim McCloskey

This edition of my blog is a bit of an out-of-body experience.

I usually write these essays no more than a few hours before each WaterShapes newsletter is released –  probably a vestige of my time at Pool & Spa News, where I put off writing my every-issue column until the very last minute so it would reflect my latest and most immediate thoughts on what I saw going on around me.  (I was, after all, running a news magazine back then.)

I’m not quite as maniacal about it now as I was 25 years ago, but old habits die hard.

That’s why this current blog-writing exercise feels odd to me:  This newsletter is reaching you on November 5, which happens to be the opening day of the 2014 International Pool|Spa|Patio Expo.  I’ll be thousands of miles from my desk for several days leading up to that date, so I’m writing this blog a full week in advance.

I’ll celebrate this unusual timing by offering a brief preview/projection/inkling of what I think I’ll have seen and heard at the show by the time the newsletter (and this blog) reaches email addresses all around the world.  The show opens at 10 am, which means I’ll have been in the WaterShapes booth for about an hour and fifteen minutes when the newsletter hits the streets.

By that time, I’m thinking I will have said hello to a dozen or so old friends hanging around the Genesis 3 Pavilion, where the WaterShapes booth sits in space #405.  I will have heard at least three people comment about the turnout, which will seem either light or robust to them.  I will have spoken with three or four people who have asked me why they no longer receive WaterShapes in the mail.  I will have let them and another five or six other people know that it’s unlikely we’ll ever go back to being a printed magazine.

One or two people will have had something to say about the previous day’s election results and express either joy or dismay about how things turned out.  I’ll do my best not to be drawn in by any leading questions or comments, basically because I have never been big on engaging in political discussions at trade shows.  (There’s just too much opportunity for conflict.)

I will probably have initiated a conversation with at least one old friend in which I express how aggrieved I still am by the fact that Mark Urban is no longer with us.  There was an abundance of spirit and determination within the rumpled lab coat and atop the orange sneakers, and I even recall his mildly obscene selection of Hallowe’en candies with a certain fondness.

I’ll have talked with former WaterShapes/current Aqua personage Eric Herman to catch up on our respective families.  I’ll also have visited with a few others among the “media elite,” thinking in the back of my mind about days long gone when competitive fires kept these acquaintances on the chilly side.  Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older and don’t get agitated about such things anymore, but I’ve had a stronger sense of collegiality than of rivalry in recent years.

Granted, that’s a lot of chatting to cram into 75 minutes, but if this show is like most I’ve attended in recent years, it’ll hold close to this outline, give or take a conversation or two.  As I’ve said before, after attending more than 25 of these expos since 1986, I see them as an odd sort of family reunion – and I value them all the more as time passes.

In reading this, I’m aware that all of this anticipating what will happen is making me be strangely sentimental, but so be it.  I’ll sign off for now, but next time I’ll let you know how things actually went in the first 75 minutes, when I am locked once again into the self-imposed constraint of writing my blog for the November 19 edition sometime late on the 18th . . .

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