A brief blog on bidets

What’s the opposite of surviving? Thriving.

Today I’m taking a short hiatus from my survival research project to revel in an artifact of civilization here in Jordan that some consider necessary. To survive or to thrive, I’m not sure. What am I blathering on about? A second toilet, that’s what. Or, a hose attached to the toilet. Both shoot water into your private parts.

This is called a bidet.

I read an article, from a source I can’t recall, within that flooding fountain of information, the Internet, that bemoaned the fact that the USA had not caught on to the benefits of bidets. As a result, everybody in the good ol’ States walks around with dirty anuses, the article accused. We’ve got bacteria-ridden bacteria smeared all around down there with little more than dry toilet paper. Totally ineffective.

I don’t know if this situation is as dire as my partially-recalled, unsourced, unverified article would have us believe, but at any rate I was super excited to be back in bidet country this month.

Excited, until I used a high-pressure toilet hose that nearly sheared off a part of my genitalia that I was planning on keeping for my entire life. It had better water pressure than my sink hose at home. Kudos to the water engineers of Amman, and also, yikes.

“Sure, I want a clean butt. What I don’t want, is to fire-hose off my own clitoris.”

Me

And then there’s this other usage snag, a small, bidet-shaped hole in my bidet enthusiasm: this counter-intuitive entirely separate bidet, opposite the toilet.

So many questions

The toilet hose is high-pressure-dangerous, but I understand how to use it. (I think. Maybe not. I dunno.) This structure, on the other hand…what? First of all, it’s opposite the toilet, so am I supposed to waddle over there after the evacuation? Based on the size of the drain, sources say yes. Sources say, don’t overwhelm this guy with a whole mess of waste product. The soap, then, do I just…smear that around? The square-shaped and yet parallel-to-the-ground faucet…do I back that ass up on it? And then use that nice towel…as toilet paper?!

Variations in bathroom culture are fun and exciting, until you fall forwards into raw sewage, but that’s rare for me these days. (Sad. I’ve definitely lost my edge.) Early in my traveling days I had the privilege of visiting places without toilets, indoor plumbing, sewer systems, or the ability to process a lot of paper waste. No visitor really felt thrilled about adjusting to those circumstances, but the practices for survival were intuitive: don’t eat with that hand anymore. Bidet practices, much like the remote control that comes with toilets in Japan, need more training. I’m guessing that after you get used to it, you don’t feel so great without it.

Is thriving worth it? Moving on up in the pantheon of hygienic practices is nice, sure, but it’s also a limiting factor. You leave Japan and you think to yourself, “Where’s my toilet remote? How can I possibly live this way, without the heated seat, the sound of rushing water while I pee?”

Anyway, one of these days I’m gonna waddle on over to the bidet, figure out how to turn that thing on, and give it the old decontamination try.

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