A Little Bubbly


The Legend of the Lake Martin Hot Tub

By Luke Robinson

Every region of the world has its own urban legends. New Jersey has its Devil. The Pacific Northwest has its Bigfoot. Loch Ness has its Monster. Tuscaloosa has its ever-elusive accurate place kicker.

But did you know that Alabama’s Lake Martin once had a “monster” of its own? It was HUGE! It was sc-sc-sc-scarrryyyy! It was even hot and nasty and round and, at times, a little bubbly.

That’s right…. Bubbly.

For this was no real monster like the giant catfish, the freshwater alligator or  the Chupacabra.

No, this beast was even more frightening: A 20’ wide floating hot tub that prowled the slues of Lake Martin.

Terrifying, right?

Before I explain, let’s just discuss hot tubs in general for a moment. In theory, they are awesome: warm, soothing water melting your stresses away, and the pulsating bubbles ease your worries while you sip a chilled glasses of boxed Chardonnay.

However, in reality, hot tubs are—at best—lukewarm outdoor community bathtubs that are somehow both over-chlorinated and under-cleaned. The bubbles are less relaxing and more like unwitting disguises for the chatty, gassy stranger from Des Moines who joined you in the pool area after checking in to the hotel.

Jacuzzis should have a motto: “Hot tubs…. For when you really want to take a dangerous bath.”

Even Jerry Seinfeld was anti-hot tub. Remember when Kramer invited him for a “soak” ? Seinfeld replied to Kramer’s invitation by saying, “I am not taking a soak in that human bacteria frappe you have going on.”

Of course, we all dig hot tubs anyway, maybe more for the idea of what they are than what they actually are. Something about being in a hot tub makes you feel like you are about to secretly video recorded—and some people are into that.

But if hot tubs are so awesome, why do we always want to take a shower after being in one?

Back to the floating monstrosity that haunted Lake Martin way back in the late ’70s  to early ’80s, though. It should be noted I did little to no (mostly “no”)  research prior to writing this column. I am strictly going off of my really bad memory here, but I can swear under oath that I did see the infamous floater at least once. 

You have my word: This gigantic, buoyant hot tub was very real. It was like a capsized Atlantic City merry-go-round full of party people (don’t worry; I am not revealing names here for those who used to take that plunge because some were in my family). It was pulled behind a very ugly boat, and there is no doubt it was a bona fide CDC nightmare.

Can you even imagine such a thing? The contagions alone should have been un-count-ably numerous.

How are all of those people who were submerged in this hovering petri dish not sick right now? I can only assume that mankind hadn’t cut down enough of the Brazilian rainforest to unleash many  of the more powerful diseases yet.

Well, I guess this was the late 1970s; the only illness that was sweeping the country then was “Boogie Fever.”

The real question here is, where is that thing now? What does one do with a humongous floating hot tub once it has run its course? Tow it to a watery dump? Yard sale? Craigslist?

I bet the eBay “Buy It Now” price would be “Whenever you can come get this nasty thing it’s yours…no questions asked.”

In the end, we may never know what happened to this Jacuzzi of Death. For all I know, it still silently patrols the murky depths of Lake Martin waiting for unsuspecting prey.

More likely, though, it drifted down some backwater slue and is buried in pine straw and beer cans. 

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