If I look back over the years, I will say, without a doubt, that the best home improvement we ever made was my hot tub. Did you notice I used the word “my”? It’s not like I don’t share it. I do, but it’s my baby. It’s my place to go and forget about the world. It is my thirty minutes of quiet time.
I know it sounds indulgent, but everyone deserves a way to relax. Some people mix martinis or have a shot of bourbon after a hard day—well, I do that too—but usually that’s only on the weekend or if my day included me getting annoyed at anyone—at all. Okay, I may have a Jack Daniels before bed sometimes—don’t judge me!
I’m sorry; I am already off the track. Let me get back to the hot tub. When we first contemplated this oasis, I didn’t want an outdoor spa. I wanted to redo my bathroom and put in one of those big bathtubs with the jets to melt away my aches and pains. I had dreamed of the spa jets whirling me into a state of bliss. I envisioned a master bath suite where I could dim the lights, play soft music, and soak in a tub that would massage away my stress. Of course, in this fantasy, my tub would be next to this amazing glass wall that offered me a view of the stars and romantic moonlit sky.
The reality of the situation was this: my old house was designed for small people. The bedrooms can barely hold a queen-size bed, the closets were designed back in the day when people owned two sets of clothes, and the bathroom—well—the builder had only practical purposes in mind for this space. Not only is this lavatory not spa material, but there could never be a glass wall unless I want to give my old neighbor a cheap thrill.
Knowing indoor renovation was not an option, my husband and I decided to look to our outdoors instead, and we put the hot tub under the covered porch in the yard. Now, I can commune with nature and relax under the stars while getting that massage I dreamed about. The tub truly is an oasis. It has lights so I can change the color of the water with a touch of a button to fit my mood. I like all the colors except the red. The red light makes the water look like Jaws has been swimming around and devouring unsuspecting hot-tub soakers. Except for the shark thing, the tub is a year-round retreat where I melt away the anxieties in my life.
Then, a few months ago, a horrible thing happened. My jets started acting up. They stopped making their smooth “vroom” sound and instead were making a jerky “vroom-clunk” sound. At first, I thought it was because I had just emptied and refilled my tub, and my baby had to get used to the new water. But it continued. My tub sounded as if it were gasping for breath.
Sheer panic set in. I called the repairman immediately, but he couldn’t get out to my house for a week. A week without my tub—what would I do? I had withdrawals. I wanted to sink into my 102 degrees of paradise, but it could not be. I was devastated.
“Why don’t you take a bubble bath?” my husband queried.
“You want me to soak in that ancient bathroom tub where I have to fold my knees to my chest in order to immerse my body? You want me to think about a bath without jets? And, I’m sorry, but there is no ledge on that bathtub to set down my wine glass or a scented candle!”
He pointed out that for fifteen years I never had those jets or a place to put my wine glass or scented aromatherapy candles. He also suggested that me bathing in candlelight is an invitation for catastrophe. I tried to explain that once you have jets and the lifestyle those jets provide, there is no going back. This is just the way a hot tub works. It gently takes you in and makes itself indispensable.
My husband wasn’t getting my logic at all until I equated my love for my hot tub to his love for his big TV. Boy, once I put my argument in man-vernacular, he understood it right away. He felt so badly. I think I saw a few tears well up in his eyes. Then, he took unexpected action: he called the spa company and asked them to move up the repair date.
The repairman came and saw the problem right away. He assured me it would be a quick fix, and he was right. When my jets started up again and I heard that melodic hum, I was swept away with emotion. The repairman left knowing he had done a good deed that would stay with him for years to come.
With my hot tub fixed, I can once again sit outside and look at the stars. I love the crisp air cooling my face while the warm water soothes my body except during sleet storms when the freezing rain flies in and pelts me in the head. I love the fact that I can stretch out my legs even if my husband and daughter decide to join me. I have invited a few friends over from time to time to relax, and they see the attraction to the tub. My eighty-three-year-old neighbor is also curious. He said his wife has some back trouble, and he was wondering how the jets would work for her.
I instinctively said, “Come and sit in the tub one night.”
He jumped on that response like a tiger jumps on raw meat. Then, my older gentleman neighbor said those words I will always remember:
“We don’t have bathing suits anymore. Can we go in naked?”
Wow, I have to say I was not expecting this question. I never pursued that invitation again. I don’t mean to be critical, but there are some things that are best left to the imagination.