Making the Netherlands Sparkle
October 11, 2010
Any introduction to a new technology is bound to be unsettling.
Take, for instance, Native Americans’ first introduction to men on horseback, which they took to be strange, sinister beasts with two heads.
Instead, it turns out that they were sinister beasts riding on horses. Worse, they were carrying guns, another new technology that did the Indians no good at all in the short or long run.
Being an American male of a certain age, I have always been fond of new technologies. I still like to tell tales of the first time I drove a concrete mixer (who knew that trucks came with TWO transmissions, and thus two sticks, back in the old days?), or the very first time I sat down to use a computer, at the beginning of my career in journalism. (What do I do first? “Turn it on,” said the inimitable Bill Fresch.)
So, when I took a room at a nice B&B on the Maine Coast, I was intrigued to find installed in the room a bit of technology that was new, to me anyway.
It was a bidet, pronounced “bee-day.”
It’s a French word for “pony,” though I suspect the number of cowboys who have used bidets is rather small. If not, then my notion of life in the Wild West will need to undergo some serious revision: “Sorry, Marshal. I tried to stop that gunfight out in front of the saloon, but I got my boot heel caught in the stirrup on the bidet, and had a devil of a time getting loose.”
Bidets don’t actually have stirrups, but never mind.
Now, I’m not a total rube, so I knew what it was. I’ve heard tales of people mistaking them as something strictly for a foot-bath, a use to which they are sometimes put, or sometimes a water fountain, though it would have to be a fountain for a very short person, or one who is unusually limber.
See, I knew that a bidet is used to wash one’s “business end” after using the toilet or just as a general hygienic practice. All in all it seems like a pretty good idea, but they have never really caught on in the U.S. and, in my young manhood, spent mostly as a truck-driver and general roustabout, I believe I can safely say that I never heard any of my co-workers say they were late for work because the bidet was busted.
Though I knew what the bidet was, I had no idea exactly how to use it. There were no instructions, supposedly because this is a pretty tony B&B and the assumption would be that most guests would either (A) already know or (B) be too embarrassed to ask.
I fell into that second category.
So, I figured that I’m a journalist and should not be afraid to try new things, and so took a run at it.
Well, not literally. One wants to be careful with anything having to do with those regions of one’s physique, generally speaking.
Basically, the thing is sort of an elongated sink, with a faucet and two knobs, Hot and Cold, on either side, and a drain thingie.
The idea, obviously, is to straddle the thing and lower one’s self onto it (hence, I suppose, the name “pony) and then turn on the faucets.
Well, that’s what I thought at first.
Which direction one faces depends on the, um, target area of the stream of water. So, I sat down facing away from the faucets, thinking to turn on the warm water. Trouble is, facing away like that I got mixed up as to left and right and gave a good hard twist to the Cold faucet.
Happily for me, the B&B was deserted at the time, else the loud WHOOP I gave might have caused me some embarrassment, although witnesses might have been handy, as I’m pretty sure I beat the world record for the standing high jump.
I must say that unheated water in Maine in October is very bracing. Boy, if you think splashing cold water on your FACE will wake you up…WELL.
When I settled down and got my pulse to a reasonable rate, I got the brilliant notion that I should turn the water on and get it to a comfortable temperature before sitting.
Well, that made all the difference in the world. I’m not sure one is supposed to sit on a bidet as long as I did on that one, but I’m sure the novelty played a major part in my persistence, and gave me a certain sparkle.
© 2010 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content, though there have been moments when I wish I could blame it on someone else.
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