The Hot Tub World Championships

“Should I get in the hot tub? Will it make me wet? Should I get in the hot tub? Will it make me sweat? Well, well, well…”

-James Browns’ Celebrity Hot Tub Party

By Tyler Hansen

I’m tremendously, cripplingly, devastatingly cheap. Ask my wife. I will make situations very inefficient if I can avoid spending money. Why pay $40 extra to fly out of Montrose when I can save that money by flying out of Salt Lake City? I have buyer’s remorse after getting a hot dog from the Sweitzer boys at Ace. As I write this I’m wearing a sweater that is 14 years old and looks every bit of its age. Needless to say, a significant purchase can be either an opportunity for personal growth or an existential crisis for me. And I pretty much always choose to let it be the latter.

There is one glaring exception to this rule. In the darkest recesses of the pandemic my family decided to invest in a hot tub. My cheapskate preference would have been one of those Coleman inflatable hot tubs heated by four AA batteries that doesn’t exceed 74 degrees but my wife insisted we get something that actually functions. Picky picky. Making the purchase felt about as good as having my elbow stuck in a hydraulic press. Nevertheless I gritted my teeth and a month later it arrived on a cold midwinter day. Rather than do the rational thing and wait until daylight and above zero temperatures, I chose to fill it up in the dark of the January night. In the process I cracked a water line, flooded the downstairs, and had to finish the process with water from the kitchen sink. So all in all, my hot tub experience was off to a great start.

Then, much like when the grinch’s heart grew three sizes, something unexpected happened. As I eased my way into the warm water for the first time I found myself suffering from a form of incredibly specific sudden-onset amnesia. The water damage to the house was forgotten. The check I had written no longer registered. I was a free man then and I haven’t looked back since.

In Finland they turned sauna-ing into a sport for a time until it all came crashing down at the world championships a few years ago.1 I see no reason why hot tubbing can’t have its same day in the sun.2 But I guess we need to figure out the rules. What makes for a successful hot tub experience? Well, first of all, I’ve noticed the tendency of some to prioritize privacy or views over proximity. What ends up happening is these poor souls have to endure the Iditarod to get to their tub while wearing nothing more than a bathing suit.3 So, the first rule of the hot tub world championships is that the tub can’t be more than, say, five steps from the door. This presupposes that, of course, the hot tub is outside where it belongs. This isn’t a Holiday Inn in Cedar Falls. This is Crested Butte.

Next rule of the hot tub world championships is that you have to be able to see the stars. Or, as happened to us one time, you have to be able to see Elon Musk’s Starlink for the first time and wonder if a superior alien race is arriving to end the world. If you’re unfortunate enough to witness such an occasion in actuality at least you’ll meet your maker in a hot tub, so you’re going out way better than someone at hour five of a Law and Order marathon.

Despite prevailing thought and cultural biases, floaties are allowed. It’s close minded and communist to think they are only appropriate for use by butter-eating children in municipal pools. My wife has a floating lounge chair that only fits diagonally in the tub. When the lack of daylight starts playing on our minds, nothing works better than a “In the Bleak Midwinter” hot tub party replete with floaties, Bob Marley4, tropical drinks, and a potent denial of reality.

Any other rules are really up to your own discretion. The point is here in Crested Butte we all too often measure our lives in vertical feet and miles traversed. We pride ourselves in our ability to engage in type two fun5. But what about some good old-fashioned type one fun? The Finns turned something entirely lovely into a fatal death race. And, you know, I just can’t help but wonder if they missed the point. The Hot Tub World Championships is won by whoever enjoys themselves the most, by whoever finds the best way to simply do nothing aside from sipping on a beverage of their choice. Doctors might suggest we avoid exposure to hot tubs for more than fifteen minutes, but they also tell us having a steak, milkshake, and blooming onion in one sitting is bad for our health so what do they know? Those killjoys don’t get to spoil everything in life.

So while you’re here take your time, enjoy the moment, engage in some type one fun. See if you can’t eke out just a little more enjoyment. Some might call it hedonistic, I’d say it just makes good sense. And I’d suggest starting with a hot tub. Because mine turned me from Ebenezer Scrooge6 into Ebenezer Scrooge7. I’ll still eat a gas station hot dog while driving home from Salt Lake City, but at least I’ll be coming home as the reigning Hot Tub World Champion.

Tyler Hansen lives in a hobbit house in the middle of an aspen forest with his wife and two sons. He is a performing musician, works for Oh Be Joyful Church, and does freelance graphic design. So yeah, his life is pretty great.