It’s happened to most of us. At least it happens to Americans. Our first few visits to higher class hotels, we occasionally encounter a mysterious bathroom fixture. It’s this piece of porcelain next to the toilet that looks a lot like a toilet with no seat, and it’s somewhere about knee height … yet it’s got a faucet on it. Hhmm…what the heck is that thing? Isn’t that just a whole lot of redundant plumbing?
To be honest, I avoided bidets because my fundamental Christian upbringing told me it was wrong to pay too much attention “down there”. I was a little scared of the things. I’m not sure how I thought sitting on a bidet was more exotic or kinkier than sitting on a toilet. I never really gave it much thought until I moved to Portugal. Bidets are common in most of Europe; and, in fact, it’s required in Portugal that each bathroom have one.
Our apartment has a bidet. Out of habit, I respectfully skirted around it our first two months here and wondered every day what to do with it. It soon became a convenient place to wash shirts and undies since the actual bathroom sink is merely a sculptural object with no stopper. I commented to myself on how the bidet is a great “first sink” for toddlers. After all, it’s the perfect height for them. After more weeks of this low sink staring at me every day, I decided to do a little research
Sure enough, they predate indoor plumbing, indoor toilets and – probably most importantly – toilet paper. If one occasionally went to the public bath house down the
street, they were the way to stay “fresh” in between visits. Mechanically they are simply sinks, with hot and cold running water and a stopper. Many – as mine does – have a moveable nozzle to direct the water flow to just the right area. Listed uses include the handwashing of laundry, children washing and foot washing. Brilliant! It’s a good place to soak your feet if you bring a chair into the bathroom. Further reading revealed different positions in which to sit on the thing, some included illustrations. So, I’m not the only one who was baffled by this appliance.
Well, to back up a few months, I had begun cutting back on daily showers and employing “French Baths” to give my parchment-dry skin a break from moisture-robbing soap and hot water. Now, here I am face-to-bowl with the original French Bath, the bidet! I felt weird, a little naughty and very secretive. But then, who hasn’t (male or female) pointed a handheld showerhead directly at their nethers? If you say you haven’t, you’re just lying. Which also makes me wonder, how did the bidet become an appliance strictly for the ladies? We all have parts that would appreciate the pampering.
Carefully adjusting the temperature so as not to burn anything tender…I’m goin’ for it. At first, I’m thinking that it won’t support my weight, it’ll be awkward (like landing on the toilet rim after someone left the seat up). The initial sit-down was surprisingly comfortable, secure and inviting. One or two minor adjustments to the temperature and direction of the water and I’m singing opera! Cleanliness is godliness. I love my bidet…and yes, I still use it to rinse undies and wash my feet.
Here’s a little ditty on the topic (to be sung to the tune of “I Love A Parade”)
I love a bidet
I safely can say
That In every way
It beats all the rest
Oh, I love a bidet
When I’m wanting to preen
And clean to extremes
It’s simply the best
So set up the jet
Go ahead and get wet
I’m willing to bet
You’ll never regret
The day that you met
This fancy toy-let
You’ll love this frenchified method of hygiene….
Oh, I love a bidet!