In travels outside North America I’ve faced a variety of plumbing challenges: toilets on Naxos that cannot have any toilet paper put in them; youth hostel showers in Copenhagen that ran only cold water (in February, no less); no running water available on Raivavae making laundry impossible; in Morocco the hole in the ground with the foot guides eliminated any need for plumbing.
Even supposedly advanced countries have their oddities and challenges. German toilets are built with a shelf for display and examination of the creation; my first use of a telephone handle shower head in Rome lead to me douse the entire bathroom; a 707 size bathroom in London hotels allowed me to tend to every need at the same time.
Then there’s the bidet. Like the appendix and Congress, it’s there but you’re not sure why. It’s vestigial: useful at some point in the past, but now it is a ceramic anachronism.
My first bidet was in Rome, 198-. I was sharing a hotel room with my friend, Matt. It was June, hot, and we were jet lagged. We were young and resilient and intrigued to be in a land dark haired women. Matt and I bought bottles of red wine at the market across the street from the hotel. This was back in the days when you paid for things in Lira. Rome was hot, the wine was warm, so I put the six bottles in the bathroom to cool: three in the sink and three in the toilet. In Europe ice had not yet been discovered.
Soon after getting the wine I had the urge to go. With the sink and toilet filled, that left the shower or the bidet as targets. I chose the bidet. Not the right move as the shallow basin made blowback (bounce, reflection, refraction, whatever) a problem. The bidet and I were not off to a good start, but after that our paths seldom crossed. Until now.
Our Marseille apartment has three bathrooms. One of them has a bidet. A pink bidet.
What is the sound of one hand clapping? Does a dog have the Buddha spirit? What is the value of a pink bidet? Je ne sais pas.
Our bidet will never be used. We can’t remove it. So the question becomes: what do we do with it? Put it to use? Ignore it? WWMSD? What would Martha Stewart do? WWTAD? What would Tim Allen do?
If I had more time and were a decent artist, I’d create some Monty Python looking mashup: a cartoon foot coming out some clouds smashing an image of a bidet. Instead please bear with our simple stagings.
Of course there’s no end of fun to be had with silly naming substitutions (The Girl Who Kicked The Bidet; The Good, The Bidet, and The Ugly; Bidet New World; A Bidet With A View; The bidet formerly known as Prince), but I’d be here all night on this one.