Squidward didn't care about the doorbell ringing up front. He also did not care about the twenty-minute limit the delivery fish told him about, nor the fact that his new purchase was somewhat of an eyesore, jutting five feet from the ground. All the worries washed away the second he stepped in his brand new Jacuzzi.
The octopus relaxed, hands behind his head. This was the way to live. Warm, bubbling water, and momentary tranquility.
"Hey, Squidward!" piped the sponge.
"I guess you didn't hear us ring the doorbell all the way out here so we came around ba—whoa!" SpongeBob interrupted himself at the sight of Squidward's new hot tub. "Oh, boy! You got a Jacuzzi!"
Patrick stood beside him, now also in awe. "Mmmm, what smells like calamari?"
The two of them were suddenly wearing seahorse floaties around their waists, thinking it was like a pool. "Can we join you, Squidward?" asked SpongeBob with a big grin. "Please?"
"No way!" said Squidward, moving to the edge of the hot tub. "I got this thing to help me relax from nuisances like you!"
"We're not nuisances, we're neighbors!" SpongeBob gave a little wave. "Silly Squidward."
"Ooh, SpongeBob! I'm gonna do a cannonball in!"
"Great idea, Patrick!"
Squidward growled. "There is no way either of you are doing that in my Jacuzzi!"
"He's right, Patrick …" said SpongeBob. " … we need a diving board!"
Patrick put up his arms. "But where are we gonna find one?"
"I have one in my bedroom!"
"Then let's go get it!"
"NO!" Squidward's shout caused the two to flinch. "Don't you get it?! Neither of you are ever allowed in my hot tub!"
SpongeBob frowned. "But why?"
"Because …" Squidward paused. He was dealing with two idiots, he thought. A logical explanation would be useless. What he needed, in his mind, was an idiotic answer. One that was on their level. " … because there's a lake monster inhabiting it!"
Both SpongeBob and Patrick cowered. "A lake monster?! … what's that?"
"You know … like the Loch Ness Monster."
The two glanced at each other and shrugged.
"You mean you've never heard of Nessie?"
They shook their heads.
"Well, take my word for it. He's pretty scary."
"Gosh!" said SpongeBob. "What's a lake monster doing in a hot tub at the bottom of the ocean?"
"Maybe he got lost," said Patrick.
"It's a mysteryyy …" Squidward drew out his voice for effect. "But for your own safety, you must come nowhere near the Jacuzzi! Unless you want to be eaten! Understand?"
"Gotcha, Squidward! You can count on us!" said SpongeBob.
The two walked off toward the pineapple, thinking they were escaping a certain doom.
"Say …" began Patrick along the way. "Why do you have a diving board above your bed, SpongeBob?"
They watched him curiously through the pineapple window.
"I don't get it," said SpongeBob to Patrick. "If there's a lake monster in the hot tub, why is Squidward still lounging around in it?"
"Maybe he lied to us."
"No, don't be silly! He must be under the monster's spell or something!"
It was time for some research, SpongeBob thought. He and Patrick entered his now rarely used library, and soon found a book on the mythical. SpongeBob figured the title must have been a typo for mystical, because clearly lake monsters existed. Squidward had said they did.
After skipping over the sections about mermaids, Bigfoot, and jackalopes, SpongeBob arrived at the chapter about lake monsters. Strangely, anything about hot tubs was absent.
"It doesn't say anything about how to get rid of them …" said SpongeBob, nose in the book. "Apparently they're usually hard to find."
"Let me see." Patrick took a look at the blurry photograph. It looked vaguely like a sea serpent's head stuck out of the water. "That's it? That could be anything! What a crummy photo!"
"Yeah, kinda looks like a periscope to me …" said SpongeBob, squinting at the picture.
"Or a sock puppet!"
"Wait a minute, Pat — you've just given me an idea! These creatures must be camera shy if this is the best picture they could find!" He grinned slyly. "Get where I'm going with this?"
"No! I mean we can chase the monster away by trying to take a picture of it! Come on!"
Squidward had his eyes closed, still peacefully soaking in his bubbly new acquisition. He wasn't asleep, but lingered dangerously close to it as SpongeBob and Patrick crept into the yard.
SpongeBob, now in swim trunks and gripping a camera, quietly climbed into the tub. He slowly lowered himself into the moving water.
He stifled the urge to cry out. It was much different than a dip in his own tub. Unbeknownst to him, SpongeBob was actually standing right at a jet. "Oh, yeah …" He bit his lip.
"Psst!" said Patrick from the other side. "Take the picture already!"
"Huh?" SpongeBob snapped back, just in time to dodge Squidward's attempt to grab him.
"What are you doing in here?!" Squidward had been disturbed from his repose at Patrick's words. "I thought I told you to stay out!"
"We're trying to save you, Squidward!" said SpongeBob.
"From what?" It took a moment for him to remember. "Oh, yeah. The lake monster—"
SpongeBob dunked the camera underwater and a flash lit the tub. "Got it!"
"All right, SpongeBob!" cheered Patrick. "Let's see it!"
SpongeBob held up the device and peered into the tiny screen. Apparently, under the sea they have digital waterproof cameras. They both stared at it: a graphic close-up of several suction-cupped tentacles.
"Gross!" exclaimed SpongeBob, sticking out his tongue. "It's some kind of disgusting tentacle monster!"
Patrick gagged. "That's just disturbing!"
"Oh, well. At least we scared it away!"
Squidward was nearly steaming, though that may have been just been the hot tub's water. "You idiots! Those are my …" He stared at their oblivious faces and smirked. "I mean … great job, guys! You scared it away … or whatever you said."
SpongeBob grinned. "Uh huh. So we can play in the Jacuzzi now, right?"
"Oh, gosh, SpongeBob … I'd love to invite you …" They were too literal-minded to detect his sarcasm. "… but I can't because of that hot tub disease. You know … Cuzzi … itis."
"Cuzziitis?!" they both exclaimed in unison.
"Uh huh. You get it from sharing an unprotected hot tub with someone. So unless you wanna get sick, you better stay away."
"But …" SpongeBob surveyed his surroundings: he was still nearly chin-deep in the bubbling water. "Squidward, I'm in the hot tub right now!"
Squidward feigned a gasp. "You know what this means?" He waited for SpongeBob to begin trembling before continuing, " … we may have infected each other!"
"Oh, no, Squidward!" sobbed SpongeBob. "I'm sorry! I didn't know!"
"Your only hope …"
SpongeBob wiped away a tear and turned his full attention to Squidward. "Yeah?"
" … is to go home and completely avoid the person you may have given it to. Don't talk to them, don't go on their property, nothing. That's the treatment for Jacuzziitis."
"I thought it was just Cuzziitis?" asked Patrick.
"Uh … Jacuzziitis is the Latin name."
SpongeBob sniffled. "Okay, Squidward. It'll be hard, but I'll do whatever it takes. Call me when you're well again!"
The sounds of the two of them sobbing and leaving filled Squidward with a not-so-guilty gratification. He sighed, letting his muscles relax once more.
"Note to self," he said out loud. "Don't call SpongeBob."
Patrick approached the soaking octopus, who had returned to relaxing in the hot tub.
Squidward startled. "Huh?! Oh … it's just you. Aren't you supposed to be comforting SpongeBob or something?"
"He wanted me to give you this!" Patrick held out a flat bubble in his palms.
"A bubble. Fascinating."
"No, silly! It's a card bubble! Here, I'll read it to you." Patrick cleared his throat. "Squidward, get well soon! So sorry about maybe infecting each other! Love, SpongeB—" The bubble popped in his hands. " … oh, shoot."
Squidward closed his eyes once more, arms behind his head. "That didn't even have any words on it. You were making it up as you went," he said. "I knew you couldn't read."
"I can so read!" Patrick glanced around for something to prove his literacy. The only text around was the warning label on Squidward's hot tub. "Warn … ing …" he sounded out slowly. The words were tiny, so he looked over to the pictures. One caught him off guard. In it, an X slashed through a female with a protruding belly. "Huh? What does that mean?"
Squidward sighed and looked at the warning. He could have told Patrick it was an advisory against pregnant mothers to enter a hot tub, but that would have been boring. It was much more interesting for him to come up with another lie. "Don't you know? It's a warning against fat people. They're not allowed in Jacuzzis."
Patrick looked down to his own girth and back up. "Why not?"
"Because it will cook up all the contents of their stomachs like a pot of boiling water!"
Patrick shrieked. "Oh, no! That means I'll never get to swim in your hot tub!"
Squidward smirked. "Guess so."
"Don't worry, Squidward! I'll lose the weight!" Patrick began doing jumping jacks in place. "One, two, three, four … uh …" he trailed off. Counting was almost as hard as the jumping.
Squidward laughed, his nose inflating and deflating, at Patrick's desperate attempt to slim down in minutes. And his laughter grew even laughter when the starfish quickly tired and fell to the ground, struggling for air.
"Can't … breathe …" said Patrick, panting heavily on the ground. "Things … going black …"
"Go into the light, Patrick! Into!"
A short distance away, SpongeBob had been spying through his pineapple window. The sight of a friend in need of aid caused him to recklessly jump out and fall two stories. Luckily he flipped into a rolling somersault, and landed proudly beside the starfish.
"Patrick! Speak to me!" he cried after his little performance, cradling Patrick's head in his arms.
Patrick's tongue hung limply from his mouth. He'd passed out.
"SpongeBob!" called Squidward from the hot tub. "What are you doing?!"
"I was …" SpongeBob looked around him. He'd crossed the property line and was well within the confines of Squidward's yard. "Oh, my gosh! I'm on your property!"
"That's right! And I told you to stay away!"
"But I'm okay! And so are you!" SpongeBob stood up triumphantly, dropping Patrick back to the ground. "This means neither of us are infected after all!"
The little sponge raced over to the Jacuzzi, suddenly wearing water wings. "Oh, I'm so excited!"
Squidward, leaning over the edge of the tub, blocked SpongeBob with a shove of his tentacle. "You still can't come in!"
Squidward sighed. "Okay, SpongeBob. I'm gonna be honest with you."
SpongeBob leaned in, listening intently. "Uh huh …"
"I made up the lake monster thing, the fake disease, and the fat warning …"
SpongeBob cocked an eyebrow at the last one; he hadn't heard the conversation with Patrick.
" … but the honest truth about why you can't come in ..." continued Squidward.
Squidward nearly blurted out what he originally intended, because you're incredibly annoying, but he couldn't help himself. Another crazy lie was just too tempting. " … is that the mayor of Bikini Bottom passed a law prohibiting two guys to be in a hot tub together at the same time."
"But why?" asked SpongeBob, frowning.
Squidward just shrugged. "You know politics."
"Okay then …" SpongeBob turned away. Slowly, he dragged himself back to his pineapple.
When Squidward heard the slow creak of the door and then it shut, he breathed a sigh of relief. "Whew. Glad that's over." He relaxed his muscles again, slid a little farther into the water, and for a moment enjoyed the tranquility.
Until the shrill voice jolted him back. "Heya, Squidward!"
The sponge was in a bikini and wearing lipstick. He sat relaxing in the other side of the tub. "Shhh! Don't say my name!" he said with a wink. "There can't be two guys together in a hot tub. But this is all right!"
Squidward sunk deep in the water. He'd finally had his fill of making up reasons and excuses. "Whatever, I give up …"