A brew-haha over hot-tub purchase

November 25, 2003|By Susan Reimer

WHEN THE economy was at its lowest ebb and I had lost most of my savings, I turned my back on the whole notion of planning for the future and decided I would live - and spend - for today.

"Tomorrow is promised to no one," I wrote then. "I am through saving for it. I'm buying a hot tub."

Some found my plan alarming, including, sort of, the editors of The Wall Street Journal, who feared enough others like me might start a troublesome trend, and my husband, who fears pretty much any new idea from me.

"We don't have room for a glass of water out back," he groused, "let alone a hot tub."

As I often do when faced with his objections, I let someone else present my ideas for me. Our kids - the wrestler and the lacrosse player - argued for the restorative benefits of a hot tub, and my husband finally said he was willing to be outvoted.

Bargain hunter that I am, I scoured the Internet and the want ads for the perfect tub to fit our deck and budget and settled on something called Softub.

Ridiculed by real hot tubbers as nothing more than a giant soup bowl with bubbles, it is perfect for those of us intimidated by the thought of maintaining anything with more pumps and jets than the kitchen dishwasher.

It is light enough for two people to carry, and you can roll it from here to there like a giant doughnut.

"It is going to end up in my garage," my husband said. "Along with everything else."

But first, it would have to get to our house.

I found a Softub for a bargain price on eBay and started bidding. I am an old hand at eBay. I found all my kitchen dishes there.

"I don't want to be a Cassandra," said my husband, always the Cassandra. "But a hot tub isn't quite the same thing."

"Of course it is," I said, blithely dismissing his concerns. "You just put it in a box and ship it."

As is typical for me, I didn't just win the bidding on the hot tub, I established a relationship with the young woman selling it.

She is lovely. She lives in an apartment in Toronto and won the tub in a drawing. She has to unload it because she has no place to put it. I told her about my kids and she told me about her boyfriend.

We became e-mail buds, and she let me know the minute the hot tub was on a truck bound for Maryland.

It has been almost a week since I got that news, and now I feel like I am trapped in a Second City skit with Canadians the McKenzie Brothers, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas.

For three days, I talked to truckers and dispatchers who assured me, in their delightful Canadian lilt, that my hot tub was just outside of town.

After all that patient waiting, I slipped away for a quick errand and - isn't it always this way? - returned to find the package with the hot tub sitting in my driveway.

Just the hot tub.

The engine or motor or generator - whatever you call the part that makes the water hot and bubbly - was nowhere to be seen.

So, I am still constantly on the phone with my new Canadian friends. I have even talked to the seller's boyfriend, and I can assure her family that he is a very nice young man.

But at the moment, all I have on my too-crowded deck is a giant soup bowl - without the bubbles.

The kids are annoyed and my husband mentions often that he is not saying, "I told you so." This feels like an episode of I Love Lucy.

Somewhere between here and Toronto, on a truck or on a loading dock - or on the side of the road for all I know - there is a hot-tub motor looking for its hot tub. I am hoping it will find its way to me.

In the meantime, I am planning to blow bubbles through a straw and heat the water with a lot of tea-cup coils. The kids and I will hop in and pretend we are having the time of our lives.

Anything to keep my new hot tub from ending up in my husband's garage.

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