Dear Alice,

Here's a Hey, what's a bidet? — follow-up question: I was glad to see an explanation for the purpose of a bidet. I've seen them in other countries and in upscale homes here. I still don't understand, though, just exactly HOW one uses it. There is no actual seat. Are you supposed to "hover" over the water jets, or what?

Thanks!

Dear Reader,

Last week on Bidets of Our Lives, Jackie and Johnny Genitals discovered something very strange in their bathroom: "No, Johnny,... that's a toilet, not a water fountain!" It quickly became clear to the American couple that this Mini Me of a commode was a bona fide bidet (rhymes with "hooray," "relay," and "filet"). It is commonly used in the lands of Europe, Asia, and Latin America to clean external genitalia when toilet paper and showers are inefficient, difficult, painful, impossible, or just too passé to use.

Bidet in French originally meant "small horse," and was assigned to the appliance in question in the 15th Century by soldiers on horseback who, with few bathing options, wanted at least to clean the parts of themselves that were forever up close and personal with their saddles. Thus, "straddling the pony" became slang for using a bidet, and may give you a good visual to accompany this user's guide. You climb aboard a standard bidet the opposite direction that you would sit on a toilet. You're right, bidets don't have seats like toilets, so may most of your "rides" be in warm places. If your unit is the kind that sprays up from the basin, then it's pretty much an auto-wash, and dry-off with a towel. Some bidets fill up like sinks that require the washee to do a little more work. If used properly, your body should keep the water in the bidet where it belongs.

As we learned in the last episode, new bidets nowadays are often built into conventional toilets — a one-stop shop feature, especially helpful for people who prefer not to jump from one "throne" to the next.

Giddy up,

Alice!
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