The Seemingly Useless Adventures of a King Idiot
A confused driver honks as two barefoot idiots cross Frog Alley in downtown Middlebury, Vermont; one is proudly hoisting an inflatable raft overhead and the other smugly holds two brooms in hand. The driver, a local librarian named Estelle, lingers as the buffoonish boys head towards Otter Creek. She wonders whether or not the boys are intoxicated. They aren’t. For several minutes, her car idles thirteen feet behind the duo. The boys remain unaware of her presence, joyfully consumed by their idiocy.
Estelle has lived in Middlebury for fifty-seven years now, and over that time, she has seen plenty of odd occurrences. But, today marks the first time that she has ever witnessed anyone attempt to substitute brooms for oars. In a state of disbelief, Estelle mutters, “are they seriously going to—,” she cuts herself off. Her question is answered as the shorter of the two boys plops the raft into Otter Creek and carefully lowers himself into in the small orange boat. The other boy dances wildly, unable to believe that the dinky raft is able to support his friend’s weight.
Two-years after the fact, I am proud to say that I was that riotously excited idiot. And on that warm autumn afternoon, my current roommate, good-friend, Albert, sat just a stone’s throw away from me in Otter Creek, in our recently purchased inflatable raft. But, enough of that, let’s get back to it.
“I knew we didn’t need the Explorer 300,” quipped Albert. His weight pressed our river fairing vessel, the slightly less expensive Explorer 200, alarmingly deep into the creek. Albert used his hands to paddle towards me. A minute our two later, after Bert’s unintentionally circuitous journey to shore, I prepared to enter our creek cruiser. With one leg in the boat, Albert asked, “You sure this is a good idea?” As I pushed off the shore and hopped into the raft, I replied, “Nope.” Our boat spun and took on what must have been a gallon of water; fortunately for us, the raft stabilized mere centimeters above the surface of Otter Creek. Success!
Relishing in our nautical achievement, Albert and I cautiously shared a high-five. Following a brief examination of the stray television that floated next to us, we set off on our journey down the creek. Much to our surprise, the brooms proved to be relatively satisfactory oars. Consumed by the moment, neither of us noticed the sound of a car, thirteen feet behind us, as it pulled away.
Sparrows chirped as we floated down the river. I dipped my feet into the water, and pondered starting a river rafting tour company; on the gentle rides downstream, I would detail the history of Otter Creek to my passengers, and of course, I would buy a second raft so that lovers could trail behind me on their romantic river cruise.
With no interest in braving the falls that roared on the other side of the Pulp Mill Bridge, Albert and I paddled over to shore at Otter View Park. Our river excursion lasted a total of thirty minutes. Barefoot, we exited the Explorer 200, walked through a bit of mud and climbed up onto the boardwalk. Still dumbfounded by what we accomplished, Albert and I looked at each other and laughed until we heard a woman call out, “Whose idea were the brooms?“ The kind middle-aged woman joked around with us for several moments, then she took our picture, and Albert and I went on our way. As the two of us walked down Weybridge Street, brooms in hand and raft overhead, the woman honked at us as she drove by, late for the first time all year for a shift at the Ilsley Library.
My first winter at Middlebury, I called my older sister, Emmy, and asked her, “where do you hot tub at school?” She laughed and hung up on me. It was an extraordinarily random question. I was no hot tub aficionado; I was just an idiot looking to relax. Part of me knew that Emmy didn’t take hot tubs at Vassar, but in my warped mind that was the sort of activity that people engaged in at college.
I would be lying if I said that I came up with the idea for the Middlebury Hot Tub Club on my own. The truth is that this organization wouldn’t exist without my friend Albert. After I got off the phone with Emmy, I took a long hot shower, wallowed in my self-pity, and briefly abandoned my frothy dreams. Luckily for me, Albert was there to snap me out of my downward spiral, “If you want to fucking hot tub then make it happen God dammit.”
Albert is down. No questions asked. That dude is down. What’s that mean? It’s three a.m., Albert is asleep, and you shake him awake and ask, “Want to drive to New York state and back?” Without any explanation needed, Albert is always down. I met Albert my freshman year when I asked if anyone on my hall wanted to watch an episode of Seinfeld. Obviously, Bert was down. So, when I asked Albert if he wanted to go into town, break into the Marriot Hotel and take a hot tub with me, I knew I could count on him responding, “I’m down.”
A week later, Adam, Albert, Andrew and myself were stymied in our simpleminded initial attempt to tub at the Marriot.  Like the true geniuses that we are, we waltzed right up to the front desk and bluntly, albeit somewhat timidly, asked, “Can we please use your hot tub?” After explaining that we were not guests at the hotel, we listened as a surprisingly sympathetic concierge kindly told us that for insurance reasons we couldn’t soak in their hot tub.
The next week, I spent the majority my Sunday hiking Mount Abe with Albert, Adam and Andrew. By this point in mid September, snow blanketed the top of the mountain. Cold, tired, and a little sore, we all agreed that the best way to cap off our hike would be to take a hot tub. Headed towards the Marriot Hotel, we formulated a plan.
Our strategy was simple: we were going to wait outside the keycard-protected pool entrance until a hotel guest walked by us. When a middle-aged man exited the elevator, I explained to him that we had forgotten our key card in our room and didn’t want to have to go back upstairs to get it. “If you wouldn’t mind letting us in, we would really appreciate it,” I said. And before he could process the faulty logic of our fictional conundrum, I interjected, “You know there’s snow on the top of Mount Abe?!” Distracted and with the wool successfully pulled over his eyes, the man responded, “Wow! How much snow is up there?” The next thing we knew, he swiped his card, and went on his way, none the wiser.
To this day, Adam and Andrew, Albert and I are Co-Presidents, Chairmen and Treasurers of the MHTC (when you sneak into hot tubs, you don’t have to worry much about balancing a budget). Disclaimer: our organization is no way affiliated with Middlebury College. We do the majority of our hot tubbing and steaming in town at the Marriot Hotel and The Swift House Inn. Contact us at email@example.com if you’re down.
Over winter break of our second year at Middlebury, Albert, Adam and I decided it was time for the Hot Tub Club to level up. Now pros at sneaking into the Marriot, we decided to try our luck at a four-star hotel. An evening of research later, we had our mark: The Intercontinental Hotel in Boston. I live in Lexington, MA, so we could crash at my place. It was an almost perfect plan; the one caveat, The Intercontinental Hotel didn’t have a hot tub. After much debate, we gave the Intercontinental the green light, with the goal of gaining access to the hotel’s luxurious steam room.
Aside from Adam’s roommate Rob, who somewhat randomly accompanied us on our adventure in order to catch a flight back home to San Francisco, none of us had ever stayed in a hotel as nice as The Intercontinental. Unsure of how guests acted and dressed at hotels of this caliber, we all agreed that we would have to buy some new clothes. So, on the morning of what would become the most prolific day in the Hot Tub Club’s history, we set out to the Central Square Goodwill in Cambridge. And maybe I’m biased, but I think we came out of that place looking pretty darn good.
It was January and the sidewalks were coated in ice, so I decided to take advantage of what Mother Nature had given us. I snapped my fingers and instantly, the four of us simultaneously spun around in a clockwise circle. Much to our amusement, we repeated this routine several times. I can only imagine what people must have thought as they walked by us, to them, we must’ve looked like a bunch of King Idiots.
When we arrived at the hotel, the first thing we saw was a guest wearing sandals and sweatpants. Sweatpants?! We panicked, and rode the elevator up to the top floor of the hotel. Almost ready to admit defeat, and head home, I watched Rob as he called the front desk and asked, “Which floor is your pool on?” Unfazed, Rob looked at us and said, “We’re going to floor two.”
Unlike the Marriot in Middlebury, and conveniently for us, you do not need a keycard to enter The Intercontinental Hotel’s pool and spa. The hotel’s guests are far too classy to be bothered by things as common as keycards. Instead two large doors separate the pool area from the rest of the hotel. Unsure of exactly what was on the other side of those doors, I took a deep breadth and opened them, trying my best to act like I belonged in this ridiculous place.
While we had no clue at the time, the man who sat at the desk on the other side of those doors was named Stephan Glass, and today marked Stephan’s first day on the job. Now, I can only speculate as to exactly what went through Stephan’s mind as he watched walk up to us his desk, but I imagine our presence was rather shocking.
Silently, Stephan waited for us to say something. Eventually, I mustered up enough courage to ask, “Which way to your pool?” Stephan paused. My hands sweat profusely. Mr. Glass looked me up and down, likely wondering what the hell a twenty-year-old boy wearing a royal blue blazer and a red turtleneck was doing in a place like this. And maybe it was because he didn’t want to risk upsetting the son of some wealthy guest, or maybe it was because he simply didn’t want to deal with any sort of confrontation on his first day at work, regardless, Stephan Glass locked eyes with me, and with an over the top gesture to his right, said, “Right this way, sir.”
I couldn’t believe it; we were in. Excited and freaked out, I went to the bathroom to get my bearings. Used to the plastic toilet seats at Middlebury College, and with adrenaline pumping throughout my body, I slammed the toilet lid down as I moved to wash my hands. A moment later, when I turned on the faucet, I heard a curious clink. Unsure what that peculiar noise was, I looked around the room and saw it; a chuck of the porcelain toilet seat the size of my fist. Panicked, I threw the piece of the seat in the trash and ran out to the pool. Adam and Bert appeared to be equally distressed and Adam looked at me and whispered, “Rob’s gone.” Several minutes earlier, Rob went to look for the steam room and he had never returned. Figuring that Rob had been caught, arrested, and was on his way to prison, Adam, Albert and I froze.
Then we saw him. Wearing a full robe and slippers, Rob walked into the pool area, and instantly Adam, Albert and myself thawed from our deep freeze.
The Intercontinental steam room is amazing. There is a button you push that releases a Meyer Lemon zest, and as you might expect, the scent is pleasant but not overpowering. Down the hall is the tranquility room, and here, the four of us enjoyed a warm compress as we munched on the most delicious pears of our young lives. A few other guests roamed about, unaware of what we had done. We couldn’t believe it, in fact, I still can’t believe it.
In our four minds, the trip will forever be known as, Intercontinental Fest.
We used our briefcase to take home the branded Intercontinental robes and sandals as souvenirs. The next morning, we walked from my house to Wilson Farms, a local farm stand and grocery store, to get provisions for breakfast. Obviously, we wore our robes and sandals. We couldn’t help but chuckle, as we walked past people hunched over in their winter coats. We were on vacation, and we weren’t about to let anyone stop us. Some people smiled at us, others scowled, regardless of what they thought, a majority of the people in the store watched as these four robe-wearing morons bought a pack of bacon, and a dozen eggs. One woman even asked us if she could take our picture to show her son what college is like.
When we steamed at The Intercontinental Hotel, the four of us felt like little kids on Christmas morning. And looking back on it all, I realize that the shared feeling of joy that coursed through myself, Adam, Albert and Rob, not the Meyer Lemon zest, was what Intercontinental Fest was all about. The Middlebury Hot Tub Club extends beyond hot tubs, steam rooms, and even river rafting. It is a way of life, it is a call to embrace to ridiculous and find you in the outlandish. And I never would have realized or experienced any of this, if I had deemed it too insignificant, too trivial, or too silly to ask my older sister, “Where do you take hot tubs at school?”
 Special thanks to the kind people at the Middlebury Bike Shop for letting us use your pump.
 Much to my dismay, my river rafting company has yet to take off.
 That actually happened.
 Adam and Andrew are two of my other best friends at school.
 Faulty logic: If all our keycards really were locked in our room, then we wouldn’t have been able to get back into the room to get the cards even if we wanted too.
 Now, we are all good friends with Rob. But at the time, his presence certainly added to the ridiculousness of the trip.
 At the Goodwill, we bought the briefcase that Adam is holding. We used it to carry our bath suits.
 We really should’ve done more research before going to the hotel.
 Keep in mind it was mid-December.