Monday, September 15, 2008

Bidet in My House

The story of why there was a Bidet in my childhood home goes like this. My Dad, upon hearing my Mom talk about Europe and the Swiss “facilities,” insisted the architect designing our new home in the mid-1960s add it to the plans. It was an average sized, modest home with a great-room, big fireplace and the unusual apparatus in the only full bathroom. Our Bidet was lemon yellow, to match our other porcelain utilities, with a hot/cold control on the wall, and a douche lever, which controlled the height of the up-spraying water. You’d sit reverse-toilet style, and…..well, douche.

Mom would parade guests on tours of the house and proudly point it out. Most adult visitors in the ‘60s and ‘70s had never seen or heard of one before. They asked if it was a urinal, a very low drinking fountain or, I actually heard someone guess, a bird bath. To Mom, it was a status symbol; a useful and grand addition. To me, it was a source of embarrassment

Because we had one and a half baths, anyone using the larger bathroom noticed the mysterious trough. When I was little, my friends would ask me, “What does it do?” “I think it’s a foot bath,” I’d answer, not really knowing. One day I asked:

“It’s for washing your backside,” my Mom said, plainly. “Crocodile Dundee” stole that line from my mother.

We had equipment for butt-washing…with a douche lever on it!!!

I hated that Bidet.

No kid wants to be famous for having the only butt-washer in the township. I took a lot of flack for that Bidet. Somehow, someone on my street found out, and told someone, who told someone, who told someone. Having a Bidet in my house was the equivalent of having an “accident” in your pants; more embarrassing than having your dress tucked up into your panty hose in a glass elevator, descending into an atrium full of people; more humiliating than sprinting for a tossed bridal bouquet, then tripping…and missing.

It’s impossible to blend in when the whole neighborhood knows you have a butt-washer.

“You must have really dirty butts to have a BUTT-washer in your house.”

“Haven’t you ever heard of toilet paper?”

“I bet your MOM uses it.”

All those comments made sense to me, so I never made a move to defend the “offending” porcelain "doucher."

“Mom, why do we HAVE to have a Bidet?”

“It’s the perfect way to get clean.” Mom said. “Everyone should have one.”

When I was older and had friends over, I’d try to cover it up or make sure the door was closed. “Don’t go in there. We have a vicious dog.” I’d lie.

Oh—did I mention our Bidet was loud?? The bathroom was right next to my bedroom. At night, and in the morning, we’d hear first the water running, then a whining of the pipes, then a noisy whoosh-bubbling, full-on hose sound. That sound could only mean one thing…someone was washing their butt!

I NEVER used it. Even if I wanted to—I wouldn’t have given “it,” or my Mom, the satisfaction. The only time I can ever remember thinking it made sense was right after I gave birth to my kids, and by that time, I had already moved out. It would have been a little awkward at that point:

“Mom, I’d like to use your bathroom.”

“What’s wrong with yours?”

“Nothing. Can I?”
”Uh—O.K., dear.”

Whooooshhhhh…. Bubble, bubble

Upon hearing those sounds emit from the bathroom—Mom would have been well satisfied.


Jenie Altruda said...

That bidet was the first I ever saw. I have yet to use one! Especially a yellow one!!!

bspicknall said...

I know zero people with a Bidet. I saw plenty of them in Italy and even then my first thought was usually, "How nice. A urinal AND a toilet!" Your comments about post-pregnancy made me laugh. Absolutely, a Bidet would have been the perfect antidote! Yes, your mother would be pleased. Bubble. Bubble.