The Need For Hot Tubs

by Nathaniel Paull | 10/29/01 6:00am

It is definitely getting cold. It gets cold back in Seattle, too, where I'm from. Not this cold, not near the coast, but if you head up toward the mountains just an hour away ... it gets cold. Out West, we have a way of dealing with the cold that doesn't seem too popular out here. We have figured out the best thing to do when it's cold. And it's time the East Coast caught on.

The best thing to do when it's cold, with no further ado, is to sit in a hot tub. Sitting in a hot tub when there's snow on the ground or falling from the sky might be one of the best things, period. Those of you who have done it can back me up here. It's glorious.

I don't know why it never caught on out here. But I think here at forward-thinking Dartmouth we have a genuine opportunity to start something. It's almost a crime; here we are where it gets bitterly cold and snowy and we don't even have the best thing to do. Let's build hot tubs on campus. Let's make that a part of this trumpeted Student Life Initiative that I hear so much about but know nothing about.

I hear the doubts rising already, but I have answers. Sanitation? Chlorination. We've all swam in public pools and only a few of us have diseases from them. Location? Near my dorm, I thought of it, after all. Maintenance? Have chemistry classes do labs for water quality and figure out how many ppm (or would they use moles?) chlorine or bromine need to be added. They can check out the pH while they're at it. Usage? We'll turn them on when it gets cold, right about now, and turn them off when it gets hot, which hopefully happens sometime later on here. Fuel? Electricity is the most common, but they make them with wood stoves too; they are pretty cool and might fit well with the rest of the dcor and woodsy traditions of the area. Surprisingly, they heat up faster too. Cost? If we can handle the liability insurance needed to allow a thousand screaming and mildly-to-extremely intoxicated students to run around a thirty-odd foot fire for hours while being pushed by seniors and encouraged to touch it, then we're talking pocket change here. And finally the single most important consideration: temperature? Expert opinions vary here, my own is 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Some say 105, some say 100. All I know is that 98.6 feels neutral and unpleasant, and anything much more than 105 starts to cause vasodilation to the point of capillary rupture if you stay in too long. This one time I sat in 107 for an hour and when I got up I blacked out and hit my head.

For those of you who don't know about hot tub etiquette, I can see a few problems. So we'll discuss those here. You do not swim in a hot tub. You sit in one. They aren't big enough to swim in without kicking everybody, so don't. You do not pee in a hot tub, you save that for public pools where the ratios of volumes make it less disgusting. You do not sleep in a hot tub, because you can pass out (see above) or even die and start to rot and the chemistry classes have only so much chlorine.

It is acceptable to throw snowballs at hot-tubbers only if you are one of them, because that means you are walking around the snow barefoot in your bathing suit and so you've earned a few privileges. It is reciprocally acceptable to prevent this person from reentering the hot tub for several minutes if you happened to be pelted during their barrage; you tolerated it and so you've earned a few privileges. It is generally considered poor form to force them to leave permanently and warm up naturally, unless they spilled something gross in the water, in which case you all should probably be leaving.

Age groups usually do not mix in hot tub settings. This finer point is often overlooked but it is quite important. For one it's awkward sitting around half-naked in warm, confined spaces with people you don't know well. That's actually the only reason I can think of, but it's enough to have formed tradition. Same thing goes for people you don't know well; hot tubs are friendly settings, don't make it awkward by crashing someone else's party.

So that's about it for etiquette, it's really quite simple. I could go on for hours about fun things to do in hot tubs, but I'm running out of space and we're creative people; if we build it they will come. Let's build one. Hell, let's build a few. And let's get a move on. It's getting cold fast.