“You’re not planning on getting another hot tub, are you?” my two boys asked me. In unison. It was not so much a question as a plea. You have to understand, my hot tub, or the hot tub I once owned, had a reputation. If that hot tub could talk, oh lord, the stories it could tell. Back in my hedonistic 40s, my hot tub was the scene of more than a few orgies. A round cedar tub of the type you rarely find outside of Southern California, it sat in the corner of my back garden in West Hampstead, overlooked by thirteen windows. That the neighbours used to steal a glance while I was getting it on with two or more men was never in doubt. As an exhibitionist, it was all part of the fun.
Aside from sex, the tub was a place for confessionals. I recall sitting in the hot water with two close girlfriends, crying over a guy who had been cheating on me, while we watched his old jeans burn to a crisp over the BBQ. I wanted to see them go up in smoke just like our relationship.
During my sons’ teenage years, the hot tub was the place we would retreat for difficult discussions. Sitting in hot water definitely helped soften the blow as my boys let off steam and their feelings of anger, often directed towards me.
While for most men I met, being covered by four feet of water, almost always gave them a hard on, despite all academic evidence pointing to the contrary. Not that I minded most of the time.
It was a move to a new flat that prompted the question from my kids. Without asking it directly, what they were really saying was: “Are you ready to give up your crazy life?” I wasn’t sure.
Then the decision was made for me. It was six months after I’d moved into the new flat, on my boyfriend’s birthday. We were at a local pub, getting drunk. I picked up my phone, typing ‘Hot Tub’ into EBay. And there it was, a brand new four seater Jacuzzi, with flashing lights, speakers, a waterfall and loads of jets. The description mentioned something about being shipped from China. The auction was five minutes away from closing and it was £850. I pressed, “buy” and a few minutes later it was mine.
“What are you doing?” he said.
“I just bought a new Jacuzzi,” I replied.
“On my birthday??” he said, as if that special day was somehow reserved only for him.
“Does it really matter what day it is? It’s a Jacuzzi and it was £850!”
As it turned out, it wasn’t really £850. The price did not include installation, something I only thought about when the truck driver dumped it off in my front garden. “How am I going to get it in the back?” I asked him.
“I only have instructions to drop it off. You’ll probably need a crane.”
Meanwhile, the Eastern European builder, working on the flat upstairs was looking at me, taking it all in.
“£200 to move it to the garden?” I said.
“You’re having a laugh. More like £500!” he replied.
“No thanks,” I said.
What then ensued was a week of phone calls. One company told me I’d need to lift it over the house, shut down the road and get a license. The cost? A cool £3,500.
The hot tub supplier said it would be an additional £350 to plumb it in. My cheap hot tub was starting to look like a very reckless and expensive purchase. Eventually I relented, paid the builders £450 and then took a walk while eight of them lifted it over a brick wall into my garden. My friend Anne put it best when I told her: “Third world solutions to first world problems.”
As it turned out my new, modern hot tub, is on its way to acquiring the same mythic status as its predecessor, albeit without the sexual overtones. It turns out shagging while sitting in a plastic bucket seat isn’t easy. (Well, I had to try, didn’t I?) It is the place where Advantages of Age was conceived during one of my monthly gatherings of local girlfriends. Most recently Rose and I held a Hot Tub Salon about Death that we recorded using Facebook Live that has reached almost 3k views. And now that my boys are no longer children, they have come to understand its magnetic pull when attracting the opposite sex or just a bunch of their mates.
The old hot tub was a lot of fun and holds some great memories for me but I have a feeling this new one is pretty special. To the hot tub and all that goes on there. Long may it continue!