You will have, again, soared too close to the sun, and yet you will maintain that nothing in this world can compare to being the conduit between juxtaposing hot and cold, of non-chocolate and chocolate, of upstanding citizenship and countercultural-warranty-voiding social deviance.
Your heart will race, more than the manual recommends for someone using this product, and you will watch with abject helplessness as the chocolate, algae-like mass froths in the surf. Even after multiple dress rehearsals, you will still have become another Jacuzzi statistic. Blood-chocolates oaths have been broken and you will find yourself here, again, verging on the cusp of more teary calls to local repairmen and insisting upon a rush order, because the party is in two days and an out-of-order hot tub will be a magnet for questions, questions of which there are only shameful answers.
Once it was all so clean, and not at all like an Augustus Gloop fever dream.
“No,” you will say aloud, “not happening,” as you begin to run lines in preparation for the future argument with your wife. You know she will ask with fading patience if you could, please, stop eating pudding in the hot tub, because this is the fourth time it has spilled and every time it has ruined both the pumps and the monthly budget. She will ask if a sandwich or maybe a cookie would be better—and she’ll ask in that toxically sweet coaxing voice, like she’s helping you sort through a logic problem, and you will feel like a monster for stomping all over her words when you insist upon remaining a pudding purist.
Theoretically a cookie or a sandwich would be more repair-averse. You could fish a bromine-bloated sandwich or cookie carcass out of the water before they disseminate and are sucked through the filters. Both options, though, are all chewing, and ultimately you bought this hot tub to relax. Pudding, much like your spirit, is easygoing yet tough to corral. You will listen now as the motor will struggle and die. The jets and bubbles will stop and you’ll be left to soak in your sticky, chemical brine, preparing to make an embarrassing series of phone calls.
It’s not a big town: Fancy Ray’s Hot Tub and Sauna Repair, Ye Olde Tub and Fudge Shoppe, and Carver’s Shell Industries are your only viable options for begging. Once, in a blind panic, you had called Hot Pot and poured out your situation in a succession of sobs over your new pumps, now lousy with chocolate goo. They had listened until finally explaining that they were a Chinese restaurant and that they would need to hang up if there was no food order.
Though you’ve tried to spread your business around, that whole local Jacuzzi sector, all those tub jockeys and also, possibly, one Chinese restaurant, are likely all cracking wise about you in a group text. Even when you’ve tried to act real coy on the phone, tiptoeing around how “something” happened, the truth cannot hide. It won’t matter if you nail that sincerely quizzical look, the vague explanations, and can stave off wailing with embarrassment when the repairman finally strikes a hot vein of stiff-peaked pudding. They will all still crack wise.
The real heroes, you will tell yourself as you work up a hard-boiled resolve in the outdoor shower while the forgiving drain gurgles along, are the ones who understand a situation’s gravity and still willingly charge into the fray. You want your daughter, the birthday girl, the reason bathing-suit-clad company will be arriving Saturday, to grow up to be unafraid to face the cocoa-laden music. “There needn’t be embarrassment,” you will say, feeling nobler while trying the word “needn’t” on for size. In these times you can be the calming beacon others will look to here for guidance when they are on uneasy egoist ground.
You will call Fancy Ray’s tomorrow. “Yeah,” you will tell him, gruff and loud, “it’s me.” Your heart will no longer be racing and your mind will no longer be teaming with lies and strategies for shifting and skewing attention. “Absolutely,” you will feel a burgeoning smile, not a reflexive one intended to mask discomfort, but a real one. “It’s definitely pudding. Bring the hard chemicals.”